It’s President Trump. It’s Harvey Weinstein. It’s Matt Lauer. It’s Kevin Spacey, Al Franken and Louis C.K. These are just some of the men in power accused of sexual misconduct this year. In the wake of this widespread systemic problem finally being brought to light, we need something empowering, hopeful and real for all women – and Spike Lee’s movie-turned-Netflix-series is just that. Here are 10 reasons why you should watch the new Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It:
1. It’s a feminist breakthrough.
The story revolves around a female protagonist, Nola Darling, an independent woman who never gives away her power to her male suitors and sticks to her morals. Nola controls her relationships. Despite the lovers’ requests for monogamy, she denies them in favor of freedom. She does not let men dictate her behavior. She will wear that little black dress, be polyamorous (however, the show doesn’t really depict ethical polyamory since none of her partners are okay with her seeing other guys), reject being defined as a “freak” or a “sex addict,” and only allow sexual encounters to happen in her bed if she wants.
2. The protagonist is a champion of the pansexual community.
Love is love! By having the protagonist be a sexually fluid character, Spike Lee is normalizing the fact that some individuals are attracted to a person, not a gender. Hopefully, this will lessen the disbelief or judgement surrounding pansexuality.
3. It’s a show about black people with white people on the periphery.
Shows today still center around white people for the most part. Except for secondary characters Vicky Street and Rachel, She’s Gotta Have It focuses on black people, who are often marginalized or typecast in television, realistically reflects our society now, and gives us hope that black people will be given more attention in the future.
The show delves deeper into race relations between black people and white people. Jamie Overstreet has a biracial son. The son, who attends a predominantly white and Asian school, obviously struggles with his identity. He doesn’t know if or how to use or own the ‘n-word,’ and whether his white friends can say it. The son creates an incriminating rap video made for a school project where the ‘n-word’ and blackface are incorporated into it. When Jamie and his wife meet with the school principal, the principal, a white man, actually references #AllBlackLivesMatter as if his support of the cause would atone him and erase evidence of the video.
4. It doesn’t trivialize the effects of sexual harassment.
Spike Lee purposefully didn’t include the rape scene between Jamie and Nola from the movie in this series. The original almost blamed her for what happened. The movie made it seem like the violent incident happened because Nola ‘asked for it,’ and glossed over the impact the event had on her. Netflix films a less intense scene of sexual harassment that happens to Nola on a dark city sidewalk, but also shows the physical and emotional scars she has afterward and how she tries to overcome them.
5. It emphasizes the need for self-care and puts therapy in a positive light.
There’s a stigma associated with going to therapy in the black community; they are often encouraged to turn to religion to preserve their mental health instead. But, Nola eventually chooses therapy and improves the most through it rather than a spiritualist or any other attempt for a cure.
6. It supports self-determination.
Nola “doesn’t believe in labels.” The series endorses the idea that no one can define you. Only you can decide who you are.
7. It addresses the issues with gentrification.
When Vicky Street uses the term, ‘New Fort Greene,’ Mars responds: “New Fort Greene? Fuck that, we’ve been here! How’s it going to be new when we’ve been here? Because you show up, it’s new?” The show portrays the reality of gentrification displacing black residents who lived there all their lives and how it strips away their culture.
8. It credits the songs and the artists who made them.
Spike Lee is a well-known lover of musicians and artists. In the series, he actually showcases the record covers of songs he includes in the show to make sure the artists are recognized. What a novel idea!
9. It’s realistic.
Today, women are still being catcalled on the street, and the series showcases that. Following Nola’s encounter with sexual harassment, she creates posters with perverted and misogynistic lines some men have used on her, which is very similar to that of the current ‘Me Too’ campaign. Clothing choices in the show, like Nola’s little black dress, and her walking home alone at night are ways it touches on why women are getting sexually harassed or assaulted today.
10. It’s passion that takes precedent.
Despite encountering issues like coming up with rent while living alone in a brownstone, Nola follows her dreams of being an artist. Rather than taking an unfulfilling job, she finds other ways to fund her passion – like walking dogs and getting her friends to model for her paintings so she can apply for scholarships. Nola’s friends also work hard for their dreams, such as Shemekka who goes to dangerous lengths to become a dancer.
What did you think of She’s Gotta Have It? Tweet us @flurtmagazine.