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[Opinion] P-Valley’s Black Male Characters Have Been Written With Concern, Intention and Care


A television show about female strippers in the south is guaranteed to be a hit show with men, especially when nudity is involved. Add a little complexity to the characters, sprinkle in some hard truths with provoking storytelling and you have Starz’s hit series P-Valley.



You’d think a show following stripper culture wouldn’t have men at the helm, but they do. Creator Katori Hall managed to craft something oddly unique with P-Valley's male characters. Not to say the female characters aren’t an important fixture, but Hall made it her mission not to leave the men out of the series equation, which is often the case in most TV programming.

The arcs for the male characters in season two have been written with concern, intention and care. The latest season of P-Valley tackled suicide, Black queer masculinity, legacy, and topics that pertain to the plights and struggles of Black men.

Uncle Clifford



Uncle Clifford (played by Nicco Annan) is a non-binary character who is the owner of the Pynk strip club. Uncle Clifford is a chameleon of all things; a mother, father, advice guru, fashionista, son, daughter, lover, poet and rule maker. Although Uncle Clifford is labeled non-binary, she identifies as Uncle Clifford, and nothing more or less will be tolerated. Ultimately, Uncle Clifford teaches us the strides you can make being comfortable in your own skin.

Diamond


Diamond (played by Tyler Lepley) works as security for the Pynk. He’s naturally a protector and his ex-marine background assists with his ability to sense dangers the club offers on a fly. He comes across as a tortured soul, but his experience on the battlefield left him with PTSD, which oftentimes haunts him. Diamond allows us to see how our savior complex can assist in our downfall. A vigilant who’s in touch with spiritual healing and root work isn’t seen on screens often.

Big Teak



Season two introduced us to Big Teak (played by John Clarence Stewart) a friend and fellow gang member of Lil Murda’s with whom he shared time in jail with. We soon learned the intricacies of their relationship. Teak is struggling with adjusting to a world that continued while he’s been incarcerated. His poor mental health stemmed from childhood trauma and could also be linked to the effect homosexuality has on Black men who aren’t able to speak about their queerness. Unfortunately, his fears and demons lead him to commit suicide and cautions us to take care of our mental health.


Andre Watkins



Andre Watkins (played by Parker Sawyers) gives us a lesson in accepting the ugly parts of who we are. He’s somewhat of a child prodigy who’s done a good job at erasing his past and allowing those to see who he wants them to see. His desire to do good showcases his plea for acceptance and he has managed to give himself a chance at something new. But he always has something to prove.

Lil Murda



A southern gentleman, rapper, killer, poet, genderqueer lover, and chef are just some of the qualities that encompass the character of Lil Murda (played by J. Alphonse Nicholson). A character on the journey of self-discovery has allowed love to lead him in that direction. Lil Murda’s journey reminds us of the possibilities ahead when peeling back the layers and walking in the truth. Many might not think Lil Murda fits the “mold” of a member of the LGBTQIA community, but in fact, his character is very reflective of the community but isn’t always displayed on TV.


Season two of P-Valley elevated the conversation and concerns of Black men, their mental health and their Black queer struggles. What once was this parallel universe never televised to the masses, Hall’s dedication to highlighting these multiple complexities of the Black man’s story is refreshing and raw. Uncle Clifford and Lil Murda is a historical TV moment for queer Black men and their love story will go down as one of TV’s best couples. And that’s with the help of this season’s character development expanding beyond normal television arcs with emotion, nonconforming identities and writing a real portrayal of queer love. In a world where Black men often disguise and shield who they really are, the depiction of the P-Valley characters define real masculinity, raise awareness and brilliantly show their authentic existence.


Who knew a show surrounding a southern experience, centered around female strippers could consciously capture the complexities of the complicated stories rarely told of Black men. We look forward to seeing season three of P-Valley.

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