Continuing the trend of the cinematic past finding its way back into our hearts as revitalized and revamped versions of its original self, Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It is now a Netflix series, and the trailer was released this past weekend.
The feature film that launched Lee’s career was notable for its revolutionary portrayal of black female sexuality. Cherishing her freedom and central character, Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) juggled three men and experimented with monogamy. The trailer reintroduced us to the 31-year-old storyline with some nuance. Speaking to her therapist, Darling declares herself “sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual” and says she never thought monogamy as a possibility. Granted, these identities are far from new, however, the readiness to accept and understand the terms used to identify them is. The trailer expands on the three men she’s seeing, who are updated characters based on the original film: there's Mars Blackmon (Hamilton alum Anthony Ramos), a goofy, sneakerhead; Greer Childs (Transparent's Cleo Anthony), the spontaneous model; and finally, Jamie Overstreet (Saw's Lyriq Bent), the successful grown-up who cares about her in a way no one ever has.
News of the remake of Lee’s debut feature film, and arguably one of the best Spike Lee joints out of the 40 Acres and a Mule filmworks, still comes with some concerns. On one side, there is the excitement to see one black woman’s exploration of her sexuality and identity with agency and autonomy on screen. Then on the other side, it’s a Spike Lee joint. Longtime viewers of Lee’s works know that things can go really well (School Daze, Do The Right Thing, Girl 6) or leave you asking, what the fuck did I even just watch? (See: Chiraq or Clockers — ehh, or maybe don’t...) Not to mention the hesitation of seeing films about women written by men. It’s the same general hesitation many marginalized groups have whenever an outsider presents a work of a narrative that they do not live.
More importantly, fans will certainly not forget the almost-justified rape in the original. Refusing to choose a single lover, after being prompted by all her suitors, Darling shuts all the relationships down. Darling tries to rekindle a relationship by seducing Jamie. Feeling used, this angers him, leading to the assault. This was dangerous for audiences, as the assault was seemingly justified because Nola “asked for it.”
Luckily, In 2014, during the 25th anniversary of Do the Right Thing and promotion for Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, the Huffington Post reported that Spike regretted the inclusion of the assault. He said, “If I was able to have any do-overs, that would be it. It was just totally ... stupid. I was immature. It made light of rape, and that’s the one thing I would take back. I was immature and I hate that I did not view rape as the vile act that it is. I can promise you, there will be nothing like that in She’s Gotta Have It, the TV show, that’s for sure.”
For that directoral and personal growth, I am hopeful. And, if nothing else, at least I can scream, “Yaaas Uncle Spike. Come through with these alternative black narratives. Give us poly black love from a feminine perspective.”
The 10-episode series on Netflix will be available this Thanksgiving. Check out the official trailer below:
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Bry'onna Mention is a digital editor at BUST and a wavvy womanist who is always ready to square up against misogynoir and respectability. She can usually be found running through the burbs with her ‘fro. Catch her on the internet at @radsadblackbry or firstname.lastname@example.org.