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She’s Gotta Have It

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What it’s about:

Independent-spirited artist Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) juggles three lovers while trying to stay true to herself in the sexy comedy-drama series She’s Gotta Have It.  An updated adaptation of Spike Lee’s 1986 film, the show takes on Black Lives Matter, the gentrification of Brooklyn, street harassment, what lovers owe one another, and whatever else its creator wants it to be about.

Names you might know:

The most famous name is the one behind the camera: Spike Lee, who directs every episode and writes a handful of them. It’s based on his 1986 film of the same name.

Why it’s worth your time:

This underrated series ran for two seasons between 2017 and 2019. It wasn’t around for very long, but it’s a hidden gem waiting to be rediscovered on Netflix. 

The show takes the premise and characters of Lee’s black-and-white debut feature and updates it for the present, with a more outspokenly feminist bent. Nola Darling knows who she is, and she will not be controlled by any of the men in her life. Those men are the romantic and rich investment banker Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent); energetic and fun gig economy worker Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos); and the conceited but seductive model Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony). They’re all very different from each other, so they each provide Nola with something different. But they’re all the same in that they each want Nola for themselves. And nothing is more important to Nola than her freedom, which creates complications in her life. 

The show has the restless energy of all Spike Lee joints, where it feels like he’s trying to pack in every idea he has at the occasional expense of cohesion, but it mostly works thanks to its winning cast and generosity of spirit. It’s also very erotic, with love scenes that fully earn the show its TV-MA rating but are also romantic and relevant to the plot. It’s a show that’s interested in sex as an idea and an act, and isn’t shy about it. 

You’d be hard pressed to find a filmmaker better than Lee at depicting what New York City feels like, and here he makes it feel summertime hot and sexy and charged with possibility, where you could meet anyone and they could change your life. She’s Gotta Have It is a love letter to Fort Greene, the best neighborhood in Brooklyn and probably the whole city, where Lee has the headquarters of his 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks production company. 

Credit: David Lee/Netflix

You’d also be hard pressed to find a filmmaker who loves music more, and the series’ soulful soundtrack features classic tracks by Prince, the Isley Brothers, Sade, and more. Something totally unique happens on this show, where after scenes that heavily feature a given song, the album cover will flash on screen for a second, as if to encourage the viewer to add the song to their own playlist. It’s a cool idea that saves a lot of Googling.

The takeaway:

If you’re in the mood for a sexy summer comedy that will make you laugh, think, and get a little hot and bothered, check out She’s Gotta Have It. At only two seasons, it’s a quick escape watch binge.

Watch it with:

This is a good one to watch with your partner, as it’s both conversation-starting and mood-setting. That sexy soundtrack is potent!

Worth noting:

Anthony Ramos – best known for playing John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in Hamilton – has taken over roles played by their creators twice. In She’s Gotta Have It, he plays Mars Blackmon, who was played by Spike Lee in the 1986 movie and in a series of famous Nike commercials. And in the recent film In the Heights, he plays Usnavi de la Vega, a role originated by the musical’s writer and original star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Just a fun fact.

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