By Korrien Hopkins
Cinematic genius Spike Lee has recreated his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, adapting it to the era of T.V. and Netflix originals. The new Netflix dramedy’s 10- episode first season became available to us all this Thanksgiving holiday.
I spent the following days indulging in leftovers and in this feminist refreshment. In the end, I was definitely not disappointed.
In my opinion, this show is praise-worthy. It shines light on many issues women face in this patriarchal world by showing sexual liberation and a relatable woman’s experience.
The main character, Nola Darling, is a 28-year-old sex positive, polyamorous, pansexual artist living in Brooklyn, New York. Nola is caught in a love pentagon and finds herself stuck between three male partners Jamie, Greer, Mars, and a female partner, Opal, to whom she struggles to commit.
Just like myself and so many women I know, Nola faces street harassment and assault, money troubles, the challenge of self-love in a time when body modification is increasingly popular, subtle racism, and the gentrification of her neighborhood: Many problems that are uniquely affected by the fact that she is a black woman.
After recently viewing the 1986 original She’s Gotta Have It, I would say that Nola Darling 2.0 is way more satisfying to watch. In the original film, Nola is raped by one of her partners, Jamie. This rape was very downplayed in the movie. Although the relationship doesn’t end up working out, it wasn’t because of the incident that took place just a few scenes earlier, but because Nola says that Jamie was too controlling– dismissing the fact that she was raped.
This did cause a lot of criticism during that time and was something Spike Lee said he regretted doing in the film. Lee took his second chance, the rape was removed from the new version of She’s Gotta Have It, although in the first episode Nola is assaulted by a cat-caller as she walks home one night. She uses her artistic nature as a form of activism and starts a guerrilla street campaign. She has conversations with friends and she experiences PTSD. Her character’s response is finally congruent with the trauma she’s experienced. This change shows the progression we have made combating women’s issues in today’s society, giving much more of a modern turn to the original.
It shows women experiencing, fighting back, seeking help and healing. Nola is what I like to call more of a millennial feminist, no different from me and the many other women who face the same issues as her.
She is like Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the artist who inspired her character. Fazlalizadeh created the global 2012 campaign Stop Telling Women to Smile, which also focused on street harassment. Nola’s activism also reminded me of Tarana Burke, the creator of a non profit organization that helps women who are victims of sexual harassment and assault and the brain behind the #MeToo campaign.
In fact, Lola Darling’s anti-street harassment photo campaign has made its way to social media, allowing others to join in on #MyNameIsnt____
The evolution of Nola’s character was definitely an enjoyable watch, from her message to the great choice of music that was played throughout the season. The change also represented the type of changes we continue to go through as a culture battling racism, sexism, and lack of respect for the experiences of women. It showed progression. It showed what happens when a woman knows what she wants and works for it because “She’s Gotta Have It!”