P-Valley—and the 'P' Stands for Prosper While Bingeing This Endearingly Turnt Series

P-Valley (2020)
P-Valley (2020)
Photo: Courtesy of STARZ
Black and BingeingBlack-ass commentary on the best bingeworthy content. It's like digital soul food.

Down in the valley where the girls get naked...is where you’ll be hooked once you really get into P-Valley on STARZ.

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Earlier this summer, I featured the trailer for this series, described as “trap music meets film noir”—and in hindsight, that description is incredibly apt. From the trailer alone, I knew scandal and drama were afoot, but I really had no idea just how wild the ride would be. It is wild and I want to get back in line to ride it again.

Based on the play Pussy Valley by Katori Hall (who is the showrunner and executive producer), P-Valley takes us on the rugged journey to a beautiful hole-in-the-wall strip club called The Pynk, located in the fictional small town of Chucalissa, Miss. It is at The Pynk that we meet the fabulous-yet-forgotten, presented onscreen with incredible depth, rawness and regard. This one-hour drama stars Brandee Evans, Elarica Johnson, Nicco Annan, Parker Sawyers, Harriett D. Foy, Shannon Thornton, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Tyler Lepley, Skyler Joy, Dan Johnson, Morocco Omari, Thomas Jones, Isaiah Washington, and Loretta Devine.

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Since the branded name for this show is P-Valley, I want to break down each of the details that especially appeal to me under categories that start with “P.” This show is so fun, so let’s have fun with it!

Performance

Let’s start with motherfuckin’ Mercedes—it’s always her night. Evans is a whole entire star. From the moment we’re introduced to her via a topsy-turvy cinematic shot, you can’t take your eyes off of her.

Even noting Evans’ stand-out portrayal, this is truly an ensemble show. Whether it’s Keyshawn (Thornton) who blossoms into the Sasha Fierceness of Miss M-I-Crooked Letter-Crooked-Letter-I-Crooked-Letter-Crooked-Letter-I-Humpback-Humpback-I or the rugged sentimental aura of Diamond (Lepley), each character of The Pynk adds just another layer that further connects the audience with the story. Add the “what the fuck is going on here?!” mysterious life of new dancer in town Autumn/Hailey (Johnson) and the twists and turns that come with this “femme fatale” and you’ll be wrapped up in some edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

And I can’t not mention this breakout character: Get into Uncle Clifford (Annan), the “HBIC” who unapologetically struts across the spectrum of masculine and feminine in a genuine display of gender fluidity. Though she is boisterous, Uncle Clifford is not a caricature...her heart is bursting with a vulnerability that makes it hard not to fall in love with her.

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As expected, the eye-candy and sex-factor is real (Whew, Lepley is a beautiful man but is also in portraying what I believe to be the role of his life and I’m excited to see how Diamond is fleshed-out even further), but so is the tenderness. Which brings me to...

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Poignancy

This show is so fucking turnt, yet it also realistically tackles tough issues such as homophobia, misogyny (and also specifically, misogynoir), colorism, sexual identity, generational wealth, motherhood, racism, domestic abuse, oppression, systemic marginalization, the long-term effects of chattel slavery (especially specific to the South), gender identity and more with a balance that feels absolutely authentic. I never feel like the show is pretending—and though I’m an outsider (as a Black Chicagoan, I may have generational links to Mississippi, but I’ve never been), I don’t feel like a voyeur...I feel right at home. P-Valley is a sensational sight, but it’s also inviting.

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I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say this—one of the most gorgeous plot lines of the series involves the gifted Nicholson, who portrays Lil’ Murda, a roughneck with a heart of gold and a captivating ambition that had me rooting for him very quickly.

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And since we’re on the subject of him...

Pump Up the Volume

Much like the Dirty Delta itself is so alive and vibrant that it serves as a character, so does this series’ soundtrack. It sucks we’re currently in lockdown and aren’t able to fully enjoy trap music—which, I believe is best served during a social activity—I guess the best we can do is shake our asses at home and pretend we’re under those flashy neon lights. Lil’ Murda’s “Fallin” is a banger and you’ll have the song in your head all damn day.

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Plus, I love and appreciate the dedication to showcasing local artists, especially giving less-known artists an opportunity to spotlight their work on a life-changing platform.

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It’s a long line to get into the popular Pynk (don’t worry, I came in late too and binged it!), but I absolutely believe it’s worth the wait. So, if you’re late to the party, trust me...it’s binge-worthy.

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The season finale of P-Valley, “Murda Night” airs Sunday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. ET / PT on STARZ and if you need to catch up on the show, the previous episodes are now available to view on the STARZ app.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

Thank you for this, Tonja. This show is black. I mean it’s pig feet and chitterlings with hot sauce black! FYI, you forgot one ‘ism in your description. Do gooder classism is also present. Notice how Andre’ wanders about the town he’s from now that he’s returned home an educated man. That sort of explains why he’s drawn to “more than a stripper” Hailey because he sees her as a kindred spirit that’s better and wanting to rise above her circumstances. (He’s also a horny dumbass that proves men ain’t shit by pining for her grifting ass instead of being faithful to his M.D. wife, but that’s an entirely different discussion.)