The following review contains spoilers from season 3 of Queen Sugar.
“Don’t lead with the fear of what might be, lead with the strength of who you are.” – Charlie to Nova.
“You gotta understand that I don’t need no pedestal. I aint gone break. I got wings, just like you.” – Aunt Vi to Hollywood
“We ain’t goin’ inside.” – Ralph Angel to Tomika
The beauty of Queen Sugar lies in its ability to communicate the complicated nature of family, community, and the crises that constitute life. This season follows suit as we watch how the characters we have come to know and love deal with loss. Aunt Vi is forced to deal with her new medical diagnosis and the potential loss of the independence that is so integral to her personhood. Charlie faces life without the support of Remy, an extremely difficult task considering the tight-knit nature of her new community and his multifaceted role as her friend, business consultant, mirror, and lover. Nova has to reconstitute what defines success and selling out while considering a six-figure book deal from New York publishers and dealing with the frustration of being censored by the editor of her newspaper. And Ralph Angel struggles with the battle of a lifetime after being at what he thought was a pinnacle – reuniting with the love of his life, the mother of his child and preparing for a life together as husband and wife – to finding out that the little boy at the center of his universe is not biologically his. And these are only the major plots of the narrative.
I find myself both invested in and annoyed by Charlie and Nova, which is odd for me considering that I too consider myself a hard-working career woman. Maybe that is the reason why; there is not enough distance between us. It is difficult to watch Charlie dance with the devil, also known as the Landry family, the ancestors of those who enslaved, tortured, and brutalized her ancestors. On one hand you appreciate her confidence and her gusto, but on the other hand you understand this proximity is dangerous, symbolism is important, and that she may very well be in over head.
I can appreciate Nova’s decision to think about what this new opportunity could mean to her personal integrity and self-understanding, before signing the dotted line. However, I find myself frustrated by her self-righteousness and would love to see more of her outside of her work; but then again, true to life, the work of activism has no boundaries, no borders. Ultimately, the range of emotions I feel watching the lives of these women play out on the screen is a testament to the show’s writers, cinematographers, and actors abilities to portray the complex emotional grappling with simultaneous beginning and endings.
Will Charlie become romantically involved with Jacob Boudreaux or some other non-black man? If so, how exactly will it affect the family? Remy? What will happen with Nova’s relationship to the community and herself now that she has agreed to write a book? Can Aunt Vi juggle her pie making business, lupus, and wedding planning? Is Micah going to get what he expects out of his desired public school experience? Is Ralph Angel hurting so bad that he might go and do something stupid? This is the genius of Queen Sugar’s creators; they give inspire within us more questions than answers.