|Cherish the Day promo poster.
While the first Cherish the Day anthology focused on Gently James and Evan Fisher’s five-year relationship span, the second season focuses on a few months of a couple’s blossoming reunion. The moment former high school sweethearts locked eyes in a New Orleans hardware store, sparks flew between vegetarian chef Sunday St. James and plumber Ellis Moran. It was the first time they had seen each other in some twenty odd years. Apparently, Ellis messed up a good thing.
Long ago, Ellis cheated on Sunday. Many years later, Ellis’s wife Anastasia cheated on him with Danny, her tour manager. Karma ate Ellis hard, but he’s ready to make amends. He’s an older, much matured man no longer wanting to play little boy games. Ellis and Sunday are both too grown.
With that, time has to be intentional.
Ellis must prove himself worthy of Sunday’s heart.
|Joy Bryant (who should be in a million features) glows as vegan chef Sunday St. James. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
|The divine (and criminally underused) Henry Simmons is a solid choice for independent plumber Ellis Moran. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
Although on the brink of divorcing Anastasia (played by the amazing Terri J. Vaughan) and raising two young daughters Everly and Bree, tall, brown, and handsome Ellis makes it real clear that there is room aplenty for Sunday, a gorgeous, statuesque beauty sporting sleek box braids and tailored chef jackets. Ellis stares at Sunday as though trapped in a hot desert and only she has the power to replenish his thirst. Even without physical touching, their alluring chemistry melts the screen— all in the twinkling eyes and luminous smiles. He believes they can start off as friends again. Yet, with chemistry that fire, a camaraderie would be difficult to sustain. There is so much history in the way their body language conveys longing and desire, especially after an intimate dance at the club.
And history always repeats.
|Ellis watches his woman depart the airport, entranced. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
|Sunday glides to her man in slow motion, captivated. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
Sunday does have a full plate. She’s a big deal chef, coming up with incredible recipes and managing the busiest vegan spot in Atlanta. In addition to that, her father, former judge Mandeville St. James constantly forgets minor to major things and has violent outbursts that may be hinting dementia or Alzheimer’s. This puts stress on Sunday who balances between two cities, focusing on her restaurant, tending to her father’s care, and maintaining a healthy, reignited romance with Ellis. Plus Sunday can impress sweet Bree, but stubborn Everly isn’t too receptive with her father’s girlfriend.
|Brown skin love is becoming a rarity onscreen these days so it’s a blessing to see an honest depiction with Sunday and Ellis. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
Yet, Sunday and Ellis authentically come together, as lovers, as friends, as partners. Their scenes exhibit warm tenderness, pure joy, and all-consuming passion— often more smoldering than any contemporary romance novel in the bookstores and libraries. They exude timeless romance and sex appeal. Frequently, whether Sunday stepped out in a gorgeous number or Ellis entered a room dressed to impress, they rarely wandered to anyone else. That’s the epitome of grown up commitment— a sophisticated looking pair who do struggle to put themselves first. Anastasia and Hosea (Sunday’s ex special friend) may interfere for different reasons. At the end of the day, Ellis and Sunday want only each other. Their best moments include lunch on the grass, introductions to each other’s family and friends, cooking together, and shooting hoops outside ala Gina Prince-Blythewood’s Criterion Collection hit Love & Basketball.
The most important part, however, is that Ellis is supportive of Sunday, not forcing her to sacrifice her restauranteur dreams and be the makeshift mother to his daughters.
|Sunday and Ellis at Anastasia and Danny’s wedding. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
|Their multifaceted, soul-stirring love story was better than the movies— the lighting, the acting, the music, all excellent. DP: Michael Dallatorre.
The up and downs of their relationship are understandable too. Anastasia needed lessons in boundaries, Everly seemed more angry at Sunday than Anastasia who cheated on her father, and Sunday’s obvious shame of Ellis’s profession made a number on his pride. Let’s face it— a woman on the brink of triumphant success is not going to be proudly boasting that her man is a plumber. People are conditioned to think that means toilets are his main priority as opposed to not considering that includes pipes, sinks, and etc. He’s adept at reconstruction, turning homes into goldmines. The ending superbly highlights his underrated handyman strengths, something that would have even impressed Overton Wakefield Jones.
When Everly extended an olive branch to Sunday at Danny and Anastasia’s wedding, it showed a new, profound step in their relationship, that Everly could be open and vulnerable to a woman who shares several commonalities with her. Their conversation explores the heartbreak most girls and women go through and the strength in numbers philosophy in order to overcome it. Everly becomes what Sunday was at her age, crying over a boy. Sunday doesn’t spill the fact that Ellis did the same, instead consoling her future stepdaughter with delicacy and grace, promising her that she would not mirror Anastasia or Ellis’s behaviors.
Yet, the painful cycle of cheating closes on Sunday and Ellis who ultimately decide to forgive the past and look forward to their life together.
|Mrs. Luma Lee Langston (Cicely Tyson) at top, DP: Eduardo Enrique Mayen and former Judge Mandeville James (Richard Roundtree) on the bottom, DP: Michael Dallatorre. Rest in power to both of these great heavyweights.
Cherish the Day performs double duty activism, utilizing an all-female directing crew as in Queen Sugar including Angel Kristi Williams (Really Love) and Tchaiko Omawale (Solace). Casting classic, nostalgic actors gives them flowers, that though in prime they still have good work to accomplish for new audiences. The first season featured the late Oscar honored Cicely Tyson in fine form as the sassy Mrs. Luma Lee Langston. In the second season, Shaft’s Richard Roundtree plays former judge Mandeville, a widowed father to Sunday who happens to be suffering from the ailments of old age. If there happens to be more anthologies, might we suggest Margaret Avery, Garrett Morris, Jo Marie Payton, Charlayne Woodard, Carl Lumbly, or Danny Glover.
Furthermore, Michael Dallatorre’s cinematography aligns with the thoughtful music selection, another key example hailing off Queen Sugar’s independent vibes. Sade’s brilliant song sets the theme as each episode focuses on a single day.
|Illustration by Jasper Yu.
|Illustration by Jasper Yu.
Overall, Sunday and Ellis’s incredible coupledom wouldn’t be complete without the charisma Joy Bryant and Henry Simmons brought to the table. They were beautiful and authentic, just believably present in a Black contemporary love story sans the typical struggle.
So, Cherish the Day season two comes highly recommended and well worth the two dollars per episode.