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Why you should be watching ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ this Christmas

Georgia Dack

Georgia is the website entertainment editor and is also an English literature and Film student; she (unsurprisingly) enjoys & likes to write about cinema, tv shows, books, music, and culture.

A series that is brutally honest whilst being enjoyable and beautiful to watch, the show explores racial, political, sexist and artistic struggles in the life of young Black people living in Brooklyn.

Nola Darling is an artist and a young independent black woman. She is creative, fun, intelligent, and most importantly: free. She loves the cinema, hanging out with her girlfriends, being a part of Brooklyn, painting and having sex with each of her three boyfriends. She loves not feeling guilty about it and does not allow anyone to judge her, yet life isn’t all sweet and dandy. As an artist, Nola struggles to make a living and get her work noticed. Juggling three guys at the same time is no easy task, although Nola seems to have it under control with her multiple rules.

She’s Gotta Have It is directed by Spike Lee and is a reboot of his debut film of the same name. The series taps into a number of contemporary issues that women, especially women of colour, experience today. Whilst they explore the everyday struggles like careers, family and relationships, the writers highlight what it’s like to be a minority in the US post Donald Trump’s election, touching on the horror of assault, racism and sexism.

She’s Gotta Have It is also visually stunning, stylistically using the album covers from the soundtrack between the scenes, and in the intro, juxtaposing photographs of the past and present Brooklynites in a collage style. Nola as an artist obviously has a terrific style and her house looks amazing. The cinematography is beautifully balanced, colourful yet not kitsch. I usually don’t listen to the kinds of music that was used in the soundtrack, but they contribute wonderfully to the vibe that the setting and characters create.

The series is of course not perfect. At some points I felt like the camera and the script were not working together. Whilst the series and the main characters in the show claim to promote feminism and fight against the fetishization of the female body, and the scripts were written by women, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that it was directed by a man. As highlighted by Andrew Anthony in The Guardian “it steers an uncomfortable path between depicting Nola’s scrutiny by the “male gaze” and the camera’s own fixation with her naked body”. The first scene in a club that Nola’s friend Shemekka works in was far too long to be beyond the purpose of pleasing a male audience.

Despite this, the show still manages to be empowering and ultra-feminist. It is brilliant, beautiful, touching, witty, fun and most importantly – current. Just as the original movie made a ground-breaking effort in the 80’s in changing the representation of black people in cinema, today, the series harks back to that success but also shows that there is still a lot to be done. The series and the characters are extremely honest about who they are and how they are, and they say this directly to the camera. At first this annoyed me because I believe that cinema should show, not tell, but maybe if we want to change things, then we should be honest, and say what we think, whilst showing who we are and how we feel. If one is being oppressed, mere suggestion will not get people taking and thinking. Just like Nola, we have to be active and stand up for ourselves and for what we believe in, even if it sounds like a cliché.

Both the original movie and the new series are available to watch on Netflix.

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