I have absolutely no idea why I am so late to join the bandwagon but when Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey decide to co-create a tv show, it’s very likely that it will be a masterpiece. If you don’t know who both of those women are, I’m sorry but you need to open your mind up a little more. The show has already been renewed for a second season and it’s only on it’s fourth episode. Queen Sugar is based on the novel by Natalie Baszile and follows three siblings who inherit their fathers Louisiana sugarcane farm.
In retrospect, there aren’t many family drama’s on tv. I can count the Fosters and Empire both of which are extremely different to this. It’s a whole different kind of drama on it’s own. It’s not just the drama cause from their relationships with others but each of the characters have their own inner struggles; their own demons, before they can even have drama with anyone else.
The very first scene introduces is us to Nova Bordelon (played by Rutina Wesley a brilliant casting decision by the way) in a close up shot waking up next to her lover who happens to be a white police detective. The camera shows us Nova’s locs, tattooed skin and even before she says anything, you know her character is very afrocentric. There is then a very sensual yet gentle dressing scene. Yes dressing, cause this man just touched her softly, caressed her, stroked her with his fingertips, while helping her get dressed, and I was so here for that scene. Don’t get me wrong, I love that there are so many black women on tv now in main characters and they are powerful. But the sex scenes more times than not with black women reflect a stereotype that people have when it comes to a black woman’s sex life. The sex scenes are usually very aggressive and seem more lustful than loving. This one was the latter and it was very welcome on my screen.
We are then introduced to Ralph Angel (How cool is that name?) and his five-year old son. In this scene he gives his son a lesson on discipline before leaving him alone in the park to go and rob a convenience store. Let’s dress the irony here. Where is his self-discipline? A few minutes later we find out that Ralph Angel is an ex-con. He clearly doesn’t have enough self discipline to stop himself from committing crimes. The problem with Ralph Angel is you know he can’t shake the bad habits because of the love he has for his son and also his desire to repair his relationship with his father. They don’t say much to each other, but just watching the scene where he gives Ernest the money, you can see the yearning for acceptance.
Lastly we are introduced to Charley Bordelon West, the last sibling. Charley is the one who seems to have the perfect life. Married to a very successful basketball player and when I say successful I’m talking 4 rings, a beautiful home and what seems to be the perfect child. It’s all great. Five players are accused of rape and although her husband David West isn’t mentioned, it affects the whole team. Charley sticks by him and supports him and we find out later that she’s also his manager. Her father phones and speaks to her asking her for some advice and time (some fantastic foreshadowing right there) and from that scene you instantly know that she has a very shaky relationship with her family. It’s too early to tell but she’s either embarrassed of where she’s from or just wants to forget about that part of her life. Another noticeable thing is that Charley is the only light skin sibling. At the moment, i’m not sure if that is just casting or if the character was written that way for a purpose.
That is the three siblings and their father initially when we are introduced to them. The beautiful thing about this was that we got all that information from just what was maybe the first 25-30 minutes of the episode. The complexities within themselves and the demons they’re fighting alone is intriguing before the drama of their relationships with others is added to the mix.
Nova, who was the first sibling we were introduced to we quickly learn that she’s not as simples as she was initially portrayed to be. Yes she was very afrocentric and a herbalist but she was more than that. She was also a journalist and an activist. All of which you could tell she was very passionate about. Being an activist meant that she was very outspoken about the issues African-Americans currently face, especially with police brutality, and considering her lover is a white police detective, it’s obvious that there is going to be some conflict of interest there and that there will be a lot of drama stemming from that. oh you thought that was it? Not at all. Turns out lover boy is a married man. So meet Nova Bordelon; herbalist, Journalist, Activist and Mistress.
Ralph Angel like I said is an ex-con. The problem with him is that he’s trying to build a relationship with his son and do right by him but all he seems to do is make reckless mistakes. Ralph Angel oozes confusion and desperation. He seems to be the most troubled one out of the three with the most inner demons. As the episode progresses we meet Blue’s mother Darla who he reached out to for reasons even he himself is unsure of. The two have a very very troubles relationship. Drama is a recovering addict which suggest to us that maybe at some point Ralph Angel was too. It’s basically a glasshouse. The smallest thing could be thrown at them and that will be the end.
Speaking of glass houses, Charley and the West family live in a literal glasshouse. This show and the metaphors. I cannot even deal. Personally I haven’t read the book so I don’t know if this was Baszile’s vision but if not and it’s DuVernays directorial decision, can we just bow down. Let me explain why I’m so pumped over the Wests LA glasshouse. Charley had the perfect life, Looking in from the outside you could see everything. It was literally perfect. However her life as she knows it comes crashing down when the news breaks that Davis actually was involved in the rape. Charley was the perfect, classy put together one, but in that moment, nothing else matters, not who she is, what the world thinks of them or even where they are. All that matters is what her husband did and so she gets up, walks onto that court and shouts at him ‘what did you do’. Just as her life is falling apart, so is that of the Borderline family as Ernest suffers a stroke at Blue’s party and is rushed to the hospital. Across the country Charley is screaming at her husband in the middle of a basketball court. D-R-A-M-A.
Due to his Stroke, Ernest can’t speak but no words are needed. Ralph Angel brings Blue over and in that scene, God I don’t know these characters yet but I wanted to bawl my eyes out for them. Blue cuddles his grandfather and a son lies on his father’s chest sobbing because he’s failed him, the father trying to give them a reassuring smile yet a tear rolls down the side of his face as he knows that the end is coming. Three generations of men, all of them holding on, not wanting to let go. JESUS TAKE ME NOW BECAUSE I CANNOT ANYMORE AND IT’S EPISODE ONE. Just as I recovered from that, Charley walks into the hospital with Micah (her son) but it’s too late. She walks in, sees her sisters face and just crashes into her arms weeping. The pain, deep loss and the almost non-existent relationship between the sisters was all highlighted in that one action. The episode ends with Charley finally on the farm, like her dad wanted and so here goes QOTE.
Daddy I’ll fix it.
This is an abnormally long post but I wouldn’t have done the show justice if it was any shorter. This show has so much potential and I am grateful to OWN for blessing our screens with this. I can’t wait to see what it will offer and I only hope more people quickly jump on it.