What the Streets Think
Infuriating and Righteous
jenniferscott-madison7 September 2016
“Queen Sugar” examines the intricate dynamic of familial relationships, race, culture and heritage. If you’re interested in another predictable array of characters and plot twists, then you will likely be disappointed. Should your soul require retouching, or should the transcendence of blackness be something you dare allow handle you, then Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey’s collaboration is well worth your attention.
The highly praised director of 2014’s “Selma” is yet breaking ground as one of the elite visionaries of our time. Equipped with a diverse crew under all-women directors, “Queen Sugar” takes you to the mountaintop with intimate aesthetics and actors whose commitments will leave you at the edge of your seat. You will also journey through the valley as siblings Nova, a natural healer, journalist and activist, sister Charley, a scholar, business manager and NBA wife, and their brother, the previously incarcerated single-father, Ralph Angel, are further bound in the wake of their father’s failing health. This may sound a little like George Tillman Jr.’s 1997 film “Soul Food,” and while the resemblance is uncanny, the setup is real. Unfortunate as it is, life tends to bring families together on few occasions—mainly weddings and funerals. It’s painful, and beautiful. It’s infuriating, and righteous. It’s a feeling of undisputed connectedness that empties your belly and puts weight in your toes. And in the midst of America’s current socio climate pervaded by the Black Lives Matter movement, rest assured that “Queen Sugar” is both aware and intentional. You will be moved and forced to confront some difficult scenarios should you choose to tune in. “Queen Sugar” is certainly more than entertainment, but make no mistake, it’s still damn good TV. If that doesn’t convince you, the opening scene of episode one featuring Nova played by Rutine Wesley (“True Blood”) in little more than sweat and shadows to accompany her luscious locs and exquisitely defined sable physique should provide more motivation, if not #workoutgoals. And get ready to upgrade your playlist as neo-soul artist Meshell Ndegeocello’s musical direction offers the perfect underlay to what already promises to be a phenomenal project.
The contemporary drama is adapted from a novel of the same name written by Natalie Baszile. Leading roles are portrayed by: Rutine Wesley (Nova), Dawn-Lyen Garner (Charley), and Kofi Siriboe (Ralph Angel).
luvleils13 October 2016
When I first heard of the showings for this series, I was kind of skeptical to watch, since it was initially stated it would be a short series, so I recorded the first two so that I could make sense of it. I’m glad I decided to. The series is GREAT and quite believable. I can never wait until the next showing as it leaves you on the edge of your seat and waiting for the next. This, as with all great series, will be very upsetting to me once it ends. I totally love it am glad that OWN is there and Oprah allows the African American shows to be aired on her network and am sure that other networks will not even give it a second thought. The plot is very intriguing and edgy. The writer is brilliant and the cast are excellent actors/actresses and I love each one of them and everything they bring to the show. Other viewers whom rate as bad and just another black show are confused and of course they are entitles to their own opinion but I highly advise others to view for themselves before looking at other reviews and their negative opinions and decide to watch and get into it. Once again OWN, thanks for the excellent and mind-intriguing shows!!
gauthierprecious13 March 2017
I love watching strong families this is a new favorite. I can’t wait for the next season! This show would get a lot of attention if it was advertised more. I am so glad to have found this gem.I will be looking for the cast in other shows in the future. It’s really easy to relate to I found myself comparing the cast to members of my family. Real problems that keep you interested. Definitely binge a worthy show.
jeffreyhiaz5 March 2017
A friend recently recommended that I see this show. I must admit that I put it off on the basis that it comes from OWN which has a less than stellar reputation for producing quality programming. Additionally, I assumed that, considering the nature of the production, it would be – (sigh) – “predictable”. Well, was I ever wrong to make that “assumption”. Granted, I have only just watched the pilot, but MAN what a pilot! Outstanding. Not since “Six Feet Under” has there been an initial episode of a series which has been anywhere nearly this intriguing, enthralling, and – well – stunning. Very, very well done! I am most certainly looking forward to more. It is SUCH a pleasure to see Rutina Wesley on screen again: such an outstanding talent! Though perhaps the show may justifiably rate the 7.5/10 currently allotted to it by this site, please let me assure anyone who reads this, the pilot is unquestionably a 10/10 and WELL worth seeing.
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I love this new show!
turnerdelores-0913915 September 2016
I have already sent out a message to friends that this is a show to watch. If you missed the first 3 episodes, then spend some time binge watching them. You’ll be glad that you did. I like it much better than “Greenleaf” which is also on the Oprah network. I give it 2 thumbs up!
The only “star” that I was familiar with on “Queen Sugar” is Dondre Whitfield from the old “Cosby Show’. He’s all grown up and is quite handsome. I wasn’t familiar with either of the two female leads, but they are really enjoyable to watch. I hope that white audiences will give this show a chance, but most intelligent African-Americans will enjoy and be proud of the terrific writing and directing.
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ms-mani15 November 2016
I love this show! Very heartwarming,great acting. I love the strength of each character. The aunt is an awesome, strong women, who holds the entire family together. Both sisters are awesome as well. Can’t wait to see how the relationship between Charley and Remy unfolds! As well as Violet and Hollywood’s relationship. This show definitely has my attention. I can hardly wait until the following week after watching current episode/s. I hope it’s here to stay. Thanks Oprah! Although it’s no surprise that everything you touch turns to gold. Wishing you much success on this and more to come! Keep it up! I’m staying tuned. Happy Holidays!
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hotbbq-308791 August 2018
This series is absolutely outstanding! It is a must see. The cast is simply amazing and excellently portrays the story of a strong and loving family, living through life’s peaks and valleys.
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Refreshing New Series
muziqlova27 September 2016
I have enjoyed this new series so far and plan to watch the remaining episodes because I’m now hooked. The new faces peeked my interest and did not disappoint in their delivery of the real life complicated humans that we are. I can relate to their perspectives on what is happening to them and I love the New Orleans agriculture background being included as its own character. Even actors I have seen before, like Dondre Whitfield and Tina Lifford, bring new dimensions to the type of characters they are playing so their acting evolution is noticeable. The eye candy of men/women on this show is drool worthy and certainly keeps me engaged with the story line. Hopefully this first series will inspire a continual story line for other seasons to come.
With a patriarch becoming ill, his family comes together to support one another and in some cases reconnect.
Amari-Sali10 September 2016
OWN is a slept on channel. Granted, starting things off with a slew of Tyler Perry productions didn’t begin its scripted foray with the best reputation. However, since branching out to different visionaries OWN arguably has gained the type of programming you’d have expected the decades old BET to have had years ago. So with their newest addition, Queen Sugar, arguably Oprah Winfrey and her team have created a solid launch pad for new talent, seasoned talent who deserve steady work, and those in between who may be familiar faces but never got the roles they deserved.
Trigger Warning(s): Ailing Parent
At the center of it all is Ernest Bordelon (Glynn Turman). He has three children. One girl, Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) is married to a famous basketball player who is caught up in a sex scandal; the second girl is Nova (Rutina Wesley) who is into holistic arts, is a journalist, some New Orleans type of spiritual healer and has an off and on relationship with a married man; and lastly there is Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) and his son Blue (Ethan Hutchison). Ralph is an ex-con trying to figure out a way to do right by his son, especially in light of Blue’s mother Darla (Bianca Lawson) being a recovering drug addict. However, each and every one of Ernest children are struggling. Making it when he has a stroke it is almost like they crumble. Yet, together they may make it. Together you hope they’ll make it. For with everything going on in each and every one of their lives, they need their family.
I’ll admit that when it comes to Black majority productions, I like a little drama, a few scandals, but what I never realized is how I missed seeing a cohesive family unit. Especially a good relationship between a father and son. For a lot of shows, be it featuring Black folks or otherwise, it usually is about a maternal figure or children and their mother, especially when it comes to dramatic shows. But when it comes to a paternal figure and their kids, usually it is very jokey joke and you don’t get to see the beauty of a man taking care of his son, consoling him, protecting him, and worrying about his abilities as a parent in a serious manner.
I mean, watching Ralph Angel and Blue is the type of stuff that inspires you and makes you want to call your father if they are in your life. For despite neither actor having a long resume, though Siriboe has been on a few notable shows and movies, they are the two whose performances hit you the hardest. Really proving how important it is for Black actors, and actors of color in general, to have opportunity. Much less, actors who don’t have light skin tones.
Focusing on the story, I really love when a show is capable of balancing its characters well. Usually, and unfortunately, things are usually tipped where there is always someone you can see who should be cut so someone whose talent isn’t being nourished or focused on enough can shine. However, with this show, they need to full hour because every last person leaves you wanting more.
Let’s start with Ralph Angel. On top of having his son, he needs real and steady work. Then he has to deal with being an ex-con, for which we don’t know what he went to jail for, and then comes Darla who is doing better than before and wants to see her son. But Ralph Angel isn’t going to make that easy because she abandoned him and apparently he has seen her really strung out. Yet, Blue wants to see his mom. Oh, and before I forget, something tells me, Ms. Velez (Marycarmen Lopez), Blue’s teacher, is a possible love interest for Ralph Angel so then you got that situation in the mix.
As for everyone else, admittedly it’s the actors’ performance more than their story which is what captivates you. Wesley, who was perhaps my 2nd favorite thing about True Blood, is a bit of a weird one. Her character is into spiritual and holistic arts and also tries to push local drug dealers into participating in civil rights marches. Then when it comes to Gardner, while you could quickly and easily right her off as a basketball wife, it seems, if anything, it is just her skills with her MBA in business just weren’t put to real use. Yeah, she managed her husband, was going to help with the PR after the sex scandal began, but now life has changed and she may have to start over. Which could very well be an interesting journey as she becomes readjusted to the life she once knew and her son loses access to all the wealth his parents had and has to face doing hard work.
Overall, believe me when I say I wish this was a Netflix series since I don’t feel like waiting a good few months to know how things turn out in the end.
Something about this show feels predictable. Be it the possibility of Darla fighting for custody, Nova’s boyfriend likely busting Ralph Angel for a robbery and things of that nature. This isn’t a big deal of a low point, but it is perhaps one of the sole thorns in this rather lovely rose of a show.
On The Fence
A basketball player caught in a sex scandal and one of the main characters dating a married man is a bit of a tired cliché, but I’m hoping that those pieces of their life isn’t the majority of the pie, if that makes sense. If only because you know those stories have a one season life span and neither is going to turn out well and the show already has signs of a possible predictability problem.
Read the book
twosaturns13 September 2016
The TV show is not bad. It’s so very VERY different from the book, it’s somewhat confusing. As usual, with books and movies, I would say the book is 100 per cent better.They made a lot of changes when they brought it to TV…..only 2 siblings, Charley has a daughter and not a son….I could go on and on, but it’s better to read the book and decide for yourself.I had to watch the first episode twice to grasp what was going on.Isn’t Ralph Angel’s wife still alive in the TV show? She’s not in the book and I think that has a lot to do with the way he handles his struggles to raise Blue. A lot of people seem to like the show so I am sure it will be a hit. Congrats OWN TV on a winner. (But the book is still better! Enjoy!)
Queen Sugar put the D in drama
Serenity300010 June 2018
If you like dramas that focus on angst, family, heartache, and a gamut of emotions from the characters, Queen Sugar is the drama for you. For the most part, all of the characters are likable. Sugar is a guilty pleasure show, its not too good, but not bad at all. I continue to watch because I do care about the characters. Nova is least favorite mainly because she’s a walking hypocrite and filled with contradictions. She tends to judge Charlie, but at the same time she doesn’t see her own faults. Charlie is my favorite mainly because she is true to herself, she’s smart, and she attempts to do the right thing most of the time, but it seems to always backfire on her. Ralph Angel is a good guy, but he’s very emotional, a little too emotional at times. RA doesn’t handle conflict well. The most endearing part about RA is his role as a father. He loves his son Blue and it is a welcome sight to see a man putting his child first over a woman and also his work. Sugar is produced by the talented Ava. I would recommend this series to all. So far Season 1 remains the best season, but the jury is still out on Season 3, which recently started. So far its looking good for Sugar
cherold30 August 2017
I only watch this series because my girlfriend likes it. It’s not a bad show at all, but it’s also not a series that has really ever sucked me in. I find the character pretty interesting, and pretty likable, and the overall story arc is pretty good. There are some excellent moments, but there are far more pretty good ones.
The one exception is Darla. the recovering addict who blew up her life and is desperately trying to retrieve it. Bianca Lawson makes the character wonderfully touching and fragile, and when Queen Sugar focuses on her – which is rare – I find myself completely drawn in.
I haven’t watched any of season 2 so far, but my girlfriends wants to watch it, so sooner or later we will. But I’m in no rush.
They said it not me……
s327616919 March 2017
Well the series is called Queen Sugar and I can but agree.
There are some series out there that are so very American, they don’t really travel all that well and I’m sorry but for me, this is one of them.
Whilst the series is nicely constructed I found it at the same time rather “sugary”. The humanity has been polished out of the characters, leaving rather flat glossy caricatures, that are simply not that believable. As a result its hard for me, at least, to invest in this series.
Perhaps this is a shame, as there may be an interesting story on offer, but until the US takes a leaf from productions from say, the UK, who really know how to craft down to earth, very real, believable human interest based drama’s, I’ll be keeping my distance.
Six out of ten from me as there is decent direction and some reasonable acting on offer.
One dimensional characters
pgooden29 June 2017
We have the cosseted wife of a star athlete, the firebrand sister, the ” I gotta be a man” brother and the all knowing auntie.
There is no depth to the characters as they are so broadly painted and predictable Aunt Vi and Hollywood seem to chuckle a lot and Ralph and Ralph Angel smolder’s – His ex junkie wife and we can easily see this coming
oh and of course we have the big bad white man who is trying to foil all of their efforts.
I find no hugely redeeming qualities to this show
jacobson987 September 2016
It’s like a really bad 1980s prime time soap opera, except most of the characters are black. Every scene features music which is supposed to heighten the drama but instead proves annoying. The characters are stick figures with little depth or interest – the star basketball player, his perfect MBA wife, their perfect children, the MBA wife’s brother who’s recently out of prison, his adorable son, etc. You will need a scorecard to keep track of the vast cast. The visuals are gorgeous but bear little relationship to the plot. I know I’m supposed to like this because it was created and executive produced by Oprah and Ava DuVernay (the director of Selma). I don’t. If you’re looking for a new TV show with a black cast, try the far superior Atlanta on FX.
yrmbs19 October 2018
You have ruined Natalie Bazsiles wonderful novel. I read the book and was so excited to watch the series afterward. I could not finish the first episode. 😫
Not the same as the book.
a-mmerchant15 October 2016
I guess if you have not read the book you will love the show. I had to watch the first episode several times because it was so different. In the book Charlie’s husband is dead and she has a daughter not a son. Hollywood was Creole and looked almost white, he does not have a wife but stays on the family’s old plantation, Blues mother died from a drug over dose, there is no sister named Nova, this is what really threw me! There are only 2 siblings and Charley is Ralph Angel’s half sister. The father has already died so there is no family gathering for a funeral, also Remy is white. And where the hell is Miss Honey, Violets mother, because she is the one that raised Ralph Angel and when Charle and Micah return to Louisiana it’s at her house they stay, not Violet’s. I am watching the show, and each time I have to remind myself to put the book out of my mind! I just don’t understand why so many changes were made! I don’t think there are any spoilers here but how can it be when the show is so much more different than book. I was and am really disappointed.
This show is stupid
jennifer_edwards7023 February 2018
Queen Sugar is so stupid. None of the characters are relatable or likeable in any way shape or form, everything bad that could possibly happen happens in the pilot, nobody talks like a normal person should talk, the emotional cues are forced upon the audience with sad piano sounds, the humor is unnecessary and bad, there’s prevalent anti-whiteness in parts, and it’s way too overacted. If you’re going to have a drama show where you’re portraying life as sad, you have to have some kind of happiness in that world to begin with. If everything is relatively sad to the audience all the time, then it’s just boring and I don’t care about any of the characters complaints to God or the universe. In order to make someone feel sad, they have to be happy first, and the audience is given no reason to be happy for the characters because they’re never happy except in the beginning where you don’t know who they even are, so why should you at all care about what happens to them? I didn’t care about any of the characters, so why on Earth would I cry over the death of a father? I shouldn’t because there’s no reason for me to care about any of what is happening. The angle the director is taking, is that the characters are poor and black, therefore you must feel sorry for the situation they are in. In order to tap into the human empathy factor, the characters have to have personalities first, then you can attempt to make us feel bad about the situation. Just using the angle of “oh, look at these guys in these shitty situations, doesn’t that make you feel bad for them?”, and it just doesn’t at all work. The way they all talk is stupid too, because they all sound like racist caricatures of what some 1920s Colonel Sanders looking guy would sound like if they were pretending to sound like a black person from New Orleans. And when what they’re saying sounds as trivial and stupid as it does, that only exponentially depletes the number of shits I give about any of these events. And the events and situations? It’s like something out of a joke. “I can’t sign my son’s permission slip to go to the zoo!” “I divorced my wife so I can date this other girl I actually love” “Haha, are you gonna kiss me or not? I don’t wanna be late.” Nothing anybody says here is realistic at all, and it boggles my mind that this show can get critical acclaim and be renewed for three seasons.
Queen Sugar is so stupid.
natty-9414528 February 2018
This show is awful.
It’s full of posturing and severely lacking in substance. The plot plods along, boring scene after boring scene. Everything is sad and miserable. Nothing redeeming about it. The writer should have read a few screenwriting books.
The posters and cover art look great but that’s about it.