Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Goodbye Pigeonholing, Hello "Queen Sugar's" Mouthful of Honey Dripping Poetry

Queen Sugar is based on Natalie Baszile's NAACP Image Award nominated novel.
True perennial grasses-- sugar cane that is-- has yet touched the lives of the Bordelon offspring. These symbolic sweet acres will, however, become primary inheritance tying them together as deep as shared bloodline. With tantalizing twang and pleasant degree of Southern hospitality comes a story rich in fertile soils watered by Ava DuVernay's compelling flower pot.
On Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network, already renewed for a second season, Queen Sugar is a promising television series coated in profound integrity, placing nature of black family love and burden on the pedestal. Unlike most shows, this hearty drama looks to fulfill a void audiences have long since desired to view.

Nova (Rutina Wesley) is a natural, mediated leader of the three siblings.
"First Things First" is an introductive parlay of muted intimate frames set in beguiling arrangement like trembling fragile pieces desperate to fit together-- DuVernay's signature metaphoric vignette direction. Unlike Baszile's book, which features Bordelon siblings as a duo, the television series has a triad lead by an invented character. Nova is an apothecary magician/contemporary medicine woman carrying on a passionate affair with a married cop; Charley is a spoiled basketball wife/mother living far from humbled Southern beginnings; and Ralph Angel, the youngest, is a troubled young man with anger outbursts often triggered underneath a vulnerable innocence that comes to light in every interaction with his impressionable young son, Blue.
Nova, Charley, and Ralph Angel cannot be anymore different than one another.

Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) with Blue (Ethan Hutchison) and his gender bending Kenya doll.

This special scene embodied the great love a present black father feels for his son. Beaming Ralph Angel came out with Blue's heavily lit birthday cake (more than four years worth of celebration) and connected to Blue's proud face alone.

Three male generations on the hospital bed together is one of the finest scenes ever rendered. That stray tear coming down Ernest's cheek as he holds Blue whilst connective staring at Ralph Angel brought tremors to heart and mind.

At their father's funeral, Nova holds the hands of her brother and sister. They stand out, this united front, only ones dressed in pure, bathing white clothing. This remarkable fashion choice seems to showcase their black, marginalized bodies as earthly angels. Plus it adds an additional current of love to their father who was buried in a white casket. 
"Evergreen," episode two, is a clashing war between sisters (Nova wants to plan every step Ernest's funeral and Charley wants a role) whilst neglecting a brother's desires.
Neema Barnette's helm episode aptly titled "Inherit The Earth" opens with Ernest splitting his eight hundred acre struggling land between his three children. Nova and Charley want to sell, but Ralph Angel is desperate wish to keep their inheritance in the family. He eventually breaks down in Nova's arms in one pivotal scene, sobbing out grief and frustration after almost inflicting great violence.

The unison of Ralph Angel, Charley, and Nova Bordelon are cast perfectly.
Actors are strong and convincing.
Rutina Wesley, True Blood alum and dazzling centerpiece of Queen Sugar, breathes credible life into beautiful, wise, strong Nova. Refreshing Dawn Lyen-Gardner is a force to bear witness as Charley. That remarkable scene where she receives horrific text message video, inserts poisonous truth, and slowly yet purposefully steps on the basketball court to confront her foul husband was absolutely astounding. Kofi Siriboe inhibits layered complexities required for a multifaceted role of Ralph Angel-- a man dangling between moments of sheer blissfulness, hardened distrust, pure anger, and quiet longing.
Queen Sugar is an ethereal, Gothic visual art piece of television history in the making.
Led under Winfrey's nurturing guidance and DuVernay's graceful wings, other women directors and profound musical choices by Meshell Ndegeocello present a triumphant treat. To include many feminine voices in the room is a divine privilege shining brilliantly through each scene.
Thanks to Winfrey and DuVernay, one can only hope exceptional opportunity is a catalyst to have momentous progression continue onward.
Everyone must watch Queen Sugar and become riveted by the Bordelons. They're honest, authentic, and utterly human. Yet also, they're a testament of our time.


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