Queen Sugar, the Ava DuVernay-helmed television show on Auntie O’s OWN and based on the book by Natalie Baszile, is kicking ass and taking names right now. It’s easily one of the most compelling shows on television, and probably the only justification for why I see Farmers Only commercials on black television networks.
I won’t call it the best show on television, since I’ve seen exactly half of one episode of Game of Thrones and people have GoT watch parties and there are meme generators dedicated to it. People seem to feel really strongly about GoT.
Point is, it’s a great show, but I won’t fight about what show is the best on television, since I’m not up on all of the most popular shows.
Back to the lecture at hand (Queen Sugar): For years a common complaint in the black community was that we lacked diversity in the form of television shows that catered to the black experience; Queen Sugar looks that complaint right in the face and slaps the taste out of its mouth. It’s a good show, y’all, and I’m gonna learn you something today in case you ain’t up on game. Here are 10 reasons you should absolutely be watching Queen Sugar right now.
1. In what seemed like a herculean feat, the show leveled up in its currently running second season (we just reached that annoying midseason finale point last night) of life with the Bordelon family. For those not in the know, we’re taking a look at the Bordelons, a complex family unit where the patriarch’s death leads to the eventual (I’m skipping everything) opening of the Queen Sugar Mill, whose express purpose is seeing to the needs of black farmers in fictional St. Josephine, La. My concern after season 1 was that they might have given it everything they had. I was wrong. I apologize—believe me, I do. I shan’t worry any longer.
2. There are three Bordelon kids: Nova is the oldest, Charley is the love child in the middle, and Ralph Angel is the youngest and only boy. You could NOT come up with three more different siblings. Nova is basically Black Lives Matter in the flesh, except our first foray into her life includes her relationship with a married white police officer. Say heifer, say what? Yeah, girl, you heard me right!
Charley is the wife of an NBA All-Star and champion and is the brains behind their whole family operation until it all goes to the left, to the left. Then there’s Ralph Angel, a walking, talking good intention who is trying to get his life together after a stint in jail.
Here’s the rub: He’s got a son named Blue (more on him later) with a former addict, Darla. Somehow HE’S the stable one in that parental construct and has “custody” of their son. Bruh. What? Why does this rate as a reason you should watch? Here’s why: In three siblings, we literally hit so many cross sections of the black community. We’ve got a basketball wife (no tomfoolery, though), an activist with some inconsistencies and a reformed felon ...
... and there’s a farm involved.
3. Charley is probably the most curious character on the show even though I enjoy her the least. She’s a woman who is in total control—if you let the liquor tell it—whose world was upended by her philandering soon-to-be ex-husband (the NBA star), Davis, and it sends her into a personal fact-finding mission where she becomes, effectively, Queen Sugar.
Charley is on her shit, full stop, in almost every way. She’s always a step ahead and always handling business. Until we start to see the chinks in her armor in the second season and she becomes more human—to me at least. Who she really is starts to unfold, and it’s powerful. The last two episodes ... actually, we’ll get to that later.
4. I want Ralph Angel to win because as a character, he’s so interesting. He’s got a lot of pride, and it all makes sense. He’s doing everything he can to be a better man and be the best man he can for his son, Blue. The introduction of Blue’s black Barbie doll, Kenya, adds additional layers to who Ralph Angel is, since he is fiercely protective of his son’s innocence and kinship with this doll.
We come to find out that Ralph Angel has long been accepting and understanding as a man and is not confined by gender roles or norms. Talk about curveballs. This show has them. What makes that awesome is that the show does not make a huge thing about Kenya, though it’s clearly coming. Kenya ain’t got no lines, but she’s getting more screen time as the show progresses. Point is, on a black television show about black farmers, we have a young boy named Blue who is playing with Barbie dolls and his masculine-as-hell ex-con father is entirely accepting and supportive of him. Where dey do dat at?
5. Can we talk about the music for a minute? I think we can. The music supervisors on this show are TRYING to make you kill your phone’s battery as you set your Shazam to “auto” so it can catch every song. I have actually stood up and clapped at the television screen
several times every episode once because of the music.
6. Charley and Davis have a son named Micah who got swept up into their shenanigans, got uprooted from Los Angeles to St. Josephine and has been having a time of it. Well, in this second season, they pulled national storylines into the show regarding police brutality. I won’t give anything away, but last night’s midseason finale—GOOD LORD, I ALMOST LOST ALL OF MY MARBLES.
A running storyline is finding out what happened to Micah when the police took him to jail for driving while black. Last night we found out, and man ... I have no idea how I’d handle that if my son were relaying the story they had him tell. It reminded me of the movie Daddy’s Little Girls when Idris’ character’s daughters show up at 2 a.m. and he finds out that his ex-wife’s new boyfriend put his hands on them. He felt helpless (because felon), and that’s a fear I have: something happening to my children where I feel helpless about my ability to fix it and take away the pain. Those scenes make me boo-hoo, and I don’t care who is watching. It was the one moment on the show where I’ve felt bad for Davis.
7. The last two episodes of this season so far have been some of the most emotionally draining of any show I’ve watched in a while. Now, they aren’t This Is Us-level emo—I don’t think I could handle that—but the family gets upended by some news that sends each of the siblings down different paths as they try to put the pieces of the family together. I’m not saying jump right into those episodes. I am saying that if you want to see some compelling storytelling, the last two episodes are your huckleberry.
8. Aunt Violet is probably the true heart and soul of the show. She’s the glue. Aunt Vi keeps the peace and is the one they all rely on. I love me some Aunt Vi. You will, too, if you don’t already. She’s one of those role players who do their job and do it well, and you’re happy they’re present at all times.
9. Hollywood. I just like Hollywood. He and Aunt Vi really love each other, and he made some BIG mistakes, but when she thought he died and he hadn’t died, lawd—those emotions were real as I sat on my bouch and cried for their love. I just like Hollywood, man. He’s good for Vi and she’s good for him. Surprisingly, he’s from Atlanta. He’s probably got the closest to an accent you’d expect from down there, since nobody else is even really trying. Except Ralph Angel, bless his heart.
10. It’s just good damn television, and who doesn’t like good damn television?