Illustration by Kate Greenblatt
If there is one word that comes to mind about the new Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It, it’s bold. It doesn’t shy away from things because they could make you uncomfortable, but instead shows an authentic experience of it. Its characters grow on the audience and you want to see them succeed. This show is also engaging because you are lured in by its storylines and cliffhangers at the end of some episodes. She’s Gotta Have It also talks about women’s rights, which is an issue that is very relevant to today. As a whole, She’s Gotta Have It is the show that creeps up on you and soon has you invested in the whole thing it ends.
She’s Gotta Have It is a reboot of the 1983 Spike Lee movie of the same name about a struggling artist named Nola Darling. Lee is a famous director who has a production company and has produced 35 films since 1983. Nola lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and has three lovers, all with distinct separate character traits. One of them is narcissistic photographer Greer Childs, overprotective businessman Jamie Overstreet and finally, the last of the three is Mars Blackmon, a free-spirited and energetic guy. Nola can’t decide between them and doesn’t want to. She’s Gotta Have It tells the story of her trying to be a successful artist, juggling these three guys as well as her relationships with her friends, family and more.
Nola is unapologetically herself and doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do. In one episode, she wears a black dress that makes her feel confident, but all three guys make comments about the dress being too much or too showy. She says that she dresses for herself, not them. This is important because women’s fashion is often policed by the men in their lives. Nola talks about what it was like growing up and having people call her rude things for no other reason than what she is wearing. She doesn’t stand for it and neither should we. Another example of this is when Greer says that he doesn’t like that he isn’t her only lover. He then proceeds to call her a sex addict. What bothers her is that when she asks then what would he call himself, he says he is simply a grown man. She gets angry at him because of this double standard. She says that she can live however she wants and won’t be told or called a name because of it. This is not how things should be and Nola lets him know that he can’t say that to her.
However, on the negative side, sometimes this show can be a little too bold or random in it’s message. One of the biggest issue is the one dimension of some of the characters. For instance, Jamie, Mars, and Greer only seem capable of being the guy that you first meet. Greer is never not vain and Jamie, although romantic, never stops being the over-protective alpha male. While Mars continues to be the bouncing-off-the-walls guy that sometimes is sweet, most of the time these guys stick to the surface, giving just the basics of their personality. This is important because as much as you want to focus on the main character, you also have to make sure that the characters around her are also developing and showing the many sides every person has. A series can have a great main character but will fall apart if the rest of the cast is a one dimensional. She’s Gotta Have It could dig deeper and make all characters more three-dimensional, but the show doesn’t do that and instead lets them run in circles.
Still, the show is very good at showing how characters — especially women like Nola — handle sexual harassment. Nola is attacked on the street and is clearly bothered by it. Even though she is physically okay, she realizes that it affected her more than she knew. The show depicts her dealing with it and getting help as well. Instead of throwing it under the rug or ending the storyline in just an episode, it shows her dealing with it like a real human being. A human being doesn’t get over being attacked in just one day but over many days, years, and more. If we don’t get over something like this fast then neither should the character, and the show does a good job with this theme and promoting healthy ways of handling harassment
She’s Gotta Have It came from the 1980s and got a modern makeover, which came out mostly spectacular. Although it has problems with its one dimensional characters, the show still has enough charisma to make you want to watch it all the way though the first season. It paints the picture of a struggling artist, who lives her life the way she wants to, even if her friends, or anyone else for that matter, don’t like it. It has an unapologetic attitude that is refreshing and leads to the question, how can we push all television to be out of the box with it’s storytelling like She’s Gotta Have It?