Review: Queen Sugar, season 2

Kofi Siriboe, Dawn-Lyen Gardner, and Rutina Wesley in Queen Sugar

Queen Sugar season 2 is now available on Hulu, which is where I watch it since I don’t get OWN. It was actually a great experience to binge the whole 16 episode season on Hulu, even though it took several days. The power, the impact, the brilliance of Queen Sugar just soaks into you when you binge watch it.

Several plot lines drive the action in season 2. I’ll start with the three Bordelon siblings and work outwards.

Charley Bordelon West (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) struggles to get her sugar mill, Queen Sugar Mill, up and running with farmers who will agree to mill with her. She’s divorcing Davis (Timon Kyle Durrett), helping her teen son Micah (Nicholas L. Ashe) adjust to living in the South, and tentatively romancing Remy (Dondre Whitfield).

Ralph Angel Bordelon (Kofi Siriboe) struggles to be a good father to Blue (Ethan Hutchison) and a good farmer on the Bordelon land. He and Darla (Bianca Lawson) hope to build a family together with Blue.

Nova Bordelon (Rutina Wesley) struggles to bring awareness to the mass incarceration of Black people. She wants to bring attention to the neglect of the 9th Ward in New Orleans, especially as a potential breeding ground for the Zika virus. She gets involved with Dr. Robert Dubois (Alimi Ballard) as part of the Zika activism. Her newspaper articles and TV guest appearances bring her fame she doesn’t particularly want.

The three siblings carry the drama forward, with many, many subplots radiating out around them. There are divorces, love affairs, break ups, proposals, fights over milling clients, fights for respect, fights over who owns the Bordelon land, problems with parents who interfere with their children, and traumas with the police.

Rutina Wesley and Dawn-Lyen Gardner in Queen Sugar
The sisters have a strong and supportive relationship. It is important to them both.

The three actors playing the siblings do a fantastic job. However, Rutina Wesley is some kind of magnificent beyond even the superlative work done by the entire cast of Queen Sugar. Nova’s so strong and true to herself, so beautiful, and so calm. If I had to pick one example from among the many wonderful female characters in this very female drama to represent the best of womanhood – Black womanhood in particular – it would be Rutina Wesley as Nova.

Tina Lifford in Queen Sugar
Aunt Vi holds everyone together

I can’t fail to mention the family matriarch, Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford). She surrounds everyone in the extended Bordelon family with love. She has an enviable relationship with her man Hollywood (Omar J. Dorsey). In season 2 she ventures into a business of her own.

Charley and Davis’ son Micah gets arrested for driving while Black in season 2. There’s a strong story arc about Micah’s treatment by the police but also his growing awareness of what it means to be Black in the South.

Charley’s mom (Sharon Lawrence) is there for several episodes. At first I was prepared to hate her because of the pressure she puts on Charley to be perfect, but she had a chance to redeem herself in everyone’s eyes as the season progressed.

Darla’s parents also show up late in the season. This is a momentous event for Darla. She’s particularly glad to see her mother (Michael Michele). Her conversations with her mother are both reassuring and explosive.

The characters and the actors who play them are perfect. Each person’s story is compelling and provocative. The love we see in the family and among the other characters is beautiful and inspirational. The themes underlying the series are important and relevant.

When season 2 ends, things are up in the air between Ralph Angel and Darla, and Charley is embarking on a scheme to save Queen Sugar Mill that could be disastrous. Great cliffhangers for season 3, which begins on OWN in May 2018.

To me, Queen Sugar is one of the most outstanding shows on TV.  Everything about Queen Sugar is intelligently done. The colors, the lighting, the costumes, the close-ups, the sets, the music – all are well chosen and well executed. I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the importance of seeing an extended, loving, African American family carry such beautiful stories out into the world. It’s both groundbreaking and heartwarming.

The directors in season 2 are all women. They are Kat Candler, DeMane Davis, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Amanda Marsalis, Aurora Guerrero, Garrett Bradley, Maryam Keshavarz, Liesl Tommy, Christina Voros, Patricia Cardoso, and Lauren Wolkstein.

 

Share your comments