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Talk about turning the tables! Nola Darling, the main character in Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It, gives us self-determined feministic "I make my own rules" vibes. This Netflix addition is based on the movie version Lee had directed in 1986 (which I didn't watch). Fast forward 31 years later, this storyline has resurfaced with a modern twist. There is so much to talk about, but I'm going to focus on Nola in relation to her three lovers, Brooklyn as a person, and the culture of art.
Nola's Three-headed Monster
Nola Darling has not only one lover, not two, but three! She is dating three men at the same time...damn. We are introduced to all three men in the first episode, and trust me, it's a lot to take in. Each man brings out something different about Nola and, I believe, look at Nola in different ways.
Jamie Overstreet, the money man, with a stable job and nice-ass suits brings to Nola's table maturity. He nurtures this trait in Nola by taking her to expensive restaurants, writing poems about her and buying her paint supplies. I think he sees her as the type of woman he would have gotten with if he didn't decide to move away from his past. His past is another area I don't want to go into detail about, however, Overstreet grew up in tough and self-taught circumstances. That side of him often comes out when he's with Nola and sometimes slips when he's with his wife, to which she scolds him for.
Greer Childs, the narcissist with a flat big enough for his ego, brings to Nola's table artistry. Out of her three lovers, he connects more to her artistic side. His personality of self-obsession/love is like a type of art on its own! His photography makes him someone to Nola rather than just her lover. Before their photography session turns a mess, you could tell Greer enjoyed taking photos of Nola and Nola enjoyed being the subject of his artistic scrutiny. Greer sees Nola as just that, an art subject. Greer knows he can get any woman he likes with his looks and charm. But with Nola he has to work just like how he works when he wants to get that perfect shot.
Lastly, Mars Blackmon, the goof-ball always seen with his bicycle, brings to Nola's table innocence. As the youngest lover of Nola, Mars brings out the fun in Nola despite her determination to chase her dreams as an artist. His childish character always brings out Nola's laughter which is a sign of relaxation and a stress-free environment. His determination to find out the mysterious vandal reminded me of a kid on a adventure, so keen on finding all the answers. I don't think Mars sees Nola as just a lover but as a long-time friend he can be himself around. With his type of character, people have experienced him as "too much" or "not serious." Yet with Nola that changes, he can voice his opinion and actually be heard.
Brooklyn: The Character that Didn't Audition
We get a good chunk of what Brooklyn is all about through each character. The people (homeless mayor), the art, the homes, the party-scene, the police presence, the school system, etc. If we take a part of each character's personality it would make: BROOKLYN. Nola's free-spirit, Mars' contagious smile, Greer's self-love and Jamie's helping hand. Brooklyn is not only presented as the culture of a place but also the culture of a person in the 20th century (1986). The idea of the new folks taking over Fort Green community is like Brooklyn being replaced by the 21st century.
Art: Everything and Anything
The use of art is not only in the stroke of Nola's paintings. Although, this is the most visible form of art. Nola creates a life out of art and this is confirmed when she wins the ultimate funding for her pieces. She creates art out of what she sees (Shemekka's painting - change of hair), experiences (my name is not posters), and feels (three-headed monster painting). Art is cultured in Brooklyn as it becomes more about the way people talk and the way people walk. Art is people's interactions with each other, the way they dress, carry themselves and approach issues. If you have this mindset when watching She's Gotta Have It, it will blow your mind how art takes form.