Spike Lee has been the talk of the net (flix) with the recreation of his “She’s Gotta Have It (1986)” which has now been reintroduced into a modernized Netflix series. Still holding the same concept of the Brooklyn native, Nola Darling, juggling three exceptionally different men and breaking gender roles, only to find that she is the love of her life. Lee throws in a little more spice, making the classic an even bigger phenomenon. In the current series, cultural adversities such as gentrification, body image, and rape culture are craftily pen pointed to target today’s millennials.
In the current series a new character, “Papo” played by Elvis Nolasco, is introduced. Papo is a high school colleague of Nola, a retired veteran, striving artist, and currently homeless. Known for pushing a cart full of his artwork around the neighborhood; many of the natives refer to Papo as the “mayor of the block”, except a new resident of the community which happens to be a white woman named, Bianca Tate played by Kim Director. In episode nine titled, Gentrification, a townhall meeting is held to speak about the recent discrepancies in the community. During the meeting, Tate incriminates Papo for the suspicious green spray painted “G’s” spotted around the neighborhood, later leading to his arrest. The “G’s” stand for the gentrification (hence the title of the episode) that had been taken place in the urban Brooklyn neighborhood. For the past years, gentrification has been a critical topic for many impoverished neighborhoods around the country, not only in Brooklyn. Speaking from experience, as I watch the Westend of Atlanta transform from a mainly African American community that the city slept on to a main attraction following the creation of the New Mercedes Benz Stadium. The demolishing of the former Georgia Dome is symbolism of what is to occur, not only in Atlanta, as well as other communities across the world facing gentrification. Instead of helping those birthed in these communities, market values are raised forcing those individuals that harvested these areas to be removed from what used to be their homes. To only become homeless and watch the new intruders walk their dogs without a care in the world. And yet, the mystery of the green “G’s” continues.
Another unique character, Shemekka Epps played by Chyna Layne, is set forth as one of Nola’s closest friends. Shemekka serves as representation of the women idolized in today’s society. Working as a server at a strip club desiring to live the lavish life of a stripper, but lacks the ideal body type. In episode two, Booty Full, Shemekka’s reaction to Nola’s portrait of her notifies the audience of her insecurities within her natural beauty. Despite Nola’s constant reminder “but you’re already gorgeous”, Shemekka seeks to get the cash coin for a perfect plump booty. Achieving her goal, she’s able to indulge the painful injections to receive the stage time that she has longed for. However, during her first performance the money isn’t the only thing that is falling. Shemekka tail ended her performance, literally, falling flat on that poorly molded, thousand-dollar booty which explodes into the atmosphere. Thus, leading to her hospitalization and regretting a decision that could have ended not only the performance, but her life. Lee addresses the insecurities of the younger generations who aspire to emulate the bodies of women like Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj, and too many more to name, not realizing the dangers that can come with it or having self-acceptance. Just as Nola said “I accept what I got and what I don’t got” this is just a reminder to learn to love your natural self.
Lastly, the paramount concept of the 2017 series is Nola’s powerful feminist “My Name is Not” street art campaign, that resulted from her assault. In introductory episode, Da Jump Off, she was manhandled by a stranger who’s “cat calling” didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. Although slightly different from the 1986 film when Nola was raped by Jamie, the Netflix series still addresses the abasement of women. Also, referencing the rape culture that has continued to arise, firing up multiple protest throughout the world this past year. However, Lee uses Nola’s artistic abilities and the mastermind behind Nola’s artwork, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, who also has her own street harassment campaign “Stop Telling Women to Smile” to bring light to the intolerable actions against women.
Despite these three main novelties, there too are minor modifications in the Netflix series. Nola’s parents play a bigger role being that she is reliant on them due to her tight financial situation. And, to add some flavor, Opal (Nola’s lesbian friend in the 1986 film), has finally been given a chance and is added Nola Darlings’ list of lovers. Furthermore, there are slight character differences in the three men from the 1986 film in comparison to the present series. In Netflix series, Jamie is a dark skin man who happens to be married. Greer is light skin and a bit flamboyant with his silver painted nails. However, in the original, Jamie was light skin and there was no sign of a wife and Greer was a brown skin pretty boy with a slick back hairstyle. The only character who seems to remain entirely the same is Mars with his humorous personality. Also, the series focuses more on Nola’s career as an up and coming artist. As well as recognizes many legends that have cultivated the arts in society today. With the brilliant idea of displaying the cover arts of the singles played throughout the thirty-seven minutes of greatness. Artist such as Frank Sinatra, Jill Scott, Floetry and more are recognized. In the beginning of episode nine, Nola even takes the time to pay homage to the many artistic legends and activist that paved the way. Lee’s amazing ability to use cultural assets to captivate millennials and address the current burdens in societies while still giving us an amazing story line ceases to amaze. What can I say? He has absolutely outdone himself!