“Cherish The Day” with its sometimes complicated, yet never messy, love story answers the call for rich Black love stories.
|Aired||2/11/2020 – 3/24/2020|
|Miss Luma||Cicely Tyson|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Season Plot Synopsis
Over the course of roughly 5 years, we witness the ups and downs of Evan and Gently’s relationship. One complicated by their socio-economic differences, where both were at, career-wise, when they met, and being total opposites who struggled to find a middle ground.
Gently – 90
What I loved about Gently is that she had the vibe of all of those female romantic leads from the 90s and early 00s. However, rather than be presented as a modern take or homage, she seemed like the natural evolution of those women. She was worldly, a hustler, able to be an around the way girl as much as vulnerable and soft. Also, and I think this is what hooked Evan, she was someone who couldn’t easily be defined.
Did Gently grow up without a mom and her biological dad? Yes. But she had Ben, his boys, and a community that raised her and gave her a home. One that, despite her need to run and fly, didn’t try to limit or guilt her need to spread her wings. They just kept the nest up for her return. And as we get to know Gently, you really get to see and understand that what many say about her, in terms of being flighty, had less to do with fear and more to do with lacking roots or attachment to places.
After all, with Ben being a grown man who doesn’t need nor want Gently doting on him, that gave Gently license to find herself while getting lost in the world. And while Evan and Ben sometimes have noted her need for travel as a negative thing, it could be because they belonged to something they were so integrally a part of they didn’t feel secure in the idea of going too far.
The Reverence Shown To Miss Luma And, In Extension, Cicely Tyson – 91
I’m of the opinion, like in rap music, when actresses hit a certain age in media focused on Black lives and experience, they too seem to fade away to the point of needing specials documenting where are they now and asking, what happened? Such hasn’t necessarily been the case of Cicely Tyson, who does consistently work. However, a lot of her work has put her in the position of seeming frail, perhaps within the grasp of death, and often disoriented. “Cherish The Day” is different in, like how Margaret Avery was portrayed in “Being Mary Jane,” she was still very much about her wits, spry, and vibrant.
This was shown through her moving about her home, dancing with Evan on occasion, and it being clear she doesn’t have Gently, later Philip, due to a disability. More so, she has so much to do that she needs help. Yet, as shown in the finale, she is just as capable of leaving the house and doing something for herself if she needs to. And speaking of the finale, Miss Luma is akin to Tyson in many ways in terms of being a great talent who isn’t known as she should be. So as we hear Miss Luma’s stories, see the investment the community, be it entertainment or everyday people, have in her, it reminds you not just the value of her stories, but presence.
There Was More To Evan Than Meets The Eye – 89
When it comes to Evan, he wasn’t a saint. He had the looks of one, since he had a good job, was a sweet talker, capable of listening, and would defend Gently even from his own mother, but he wasn’t perfect. That I appreciated for it allowed him, like Gently, to not be what meets the eye. Evan, in some ways, was spoiled by the adulation of his mother and her sorority sisters. Also, while Evan had a desire to do good with his company, like many, he succumbed to the pursuit of money, and it ruined his reputation a tad and some friendships.
But, what we especially loved is that Evan, as progressive and seemingly romantic as he came off, he was still a piece of work. One that was passive-aggressive, lowkey controlling, and sometimes seemed more interested in being attached to Gently because she was this exotic bird or wild stallion he wanted to claim than wanting to fly along with her or gallop out in the wild. And it is in having to think about his actions and question if they were romantic or selfish, and ponder about his points during tense moments, that made Evan more than your basic male lead.
How Evan and Gently’s People Are Crafted – 88
While some members of Evan’s family and friend group, specifically his sister, her child, and her ex, feel underdeveloped to the point of wondering what was the goal there, most are well crafted. Outside of Miss Luma, we have Ben, Gently’s parent, who presents us with this former gangster who reformed his life. Yet, as shown by his interactions with Evan, catch him on the wrong day, and he could still be about that action.
From there, you have Gently’s best friend Rika, who, admittedly, we don’t see much of, but she, like so many, are crafted to be a welcome presence when on screen. And when you shift to Evan’s parents, Marilyn and Johnny, you see familiar faces with new stories. The kind that helps you understand Evan better and yet, neither Marilyn nor Johnny seem solely in existence for his benefit. Nearly every character is made to be the star of their own story, it is just we don’t follow them around.
So as much as you may wonder how Johnny and Marilyn’s relationship works, how it came to be, and what presently maintains it, you don’t get an answer. You are just left knowing there is a world outside of Gently and Evan, and while they are a part of it, these people don’t revolve around them. Yet, are always appreciative of their company.
How “Cherish The Day” Presents A Sense of Community – 87
When it comes to Ava DuVernay, as shown through “Queen Sugar” and her many other productions, the foundation of them all deal with community. Not just who is in your family, or even your friends, but also your neighbors. People in the neighborhood you may not see every day, but when you connect, there is a cordial conversation and catching up.
One of the key ways this is shown is through Gently’s uncles who, like Ben, are rough around the edges, but as shown in episode 5, are softies. I mean, watching these grown men fight over who is the favorite uncle, and detailing the moments that substantiate their claim rivals nearly any moment Evan and Gently shared. But, alongside people who were consistent figures, I remain struck that, in episode 1, we saw a woman like Sanah. A pacific islander woman who isn’t what we usually see in television or movies, especially outside of indie productions.
It is with that you get a real sense that DuVernay and her team wanted to do what so many New York filmmakers claim but rarely achieve – showing you the non-tourist parts of the city and the folks who make the city what it is.
The Show Avoiding Being Messy, No Matter What Was Happening In Gently and Evan’s Relationship – 92
Evan and Gently’s relationship isn’t sunshine and daisies. Most episodes either contain a fight or end with you thinking the relationship is over. However, despite that, we don’t see Gently smacking Evan, through drinks in his face, nor Evan cheating or doing any of the craziness most shows pursue to heighten the drama. “Cherish The Day” recognizes that relationships, just trying to have and keep one, create more than enough drama, so adding bells, whistles, and ribbons is unnecessary. All you need to do is have the person meet your parents if you want to heighten things. No need to create love triangles or turn passioned conversations into nasty exchanges.
Most Of Gently’s Career Moves Aren’t Shown On Screen – 65
When it comes to Gently, her resume is a bunch of odd jobs she did to survive overseas and assisting Miss Luma. This is compared to Evan, who, with his degree, is making apps, starting a company, and making huge leaps, all in front of you – throughout the season. This makes when Gently finds her thing, producing podcasts, not shown in terms of the work involved and how she looks in action, a bit unfair. Particularly since most of Gently’s memories we don’t see or live but hear about. So to not see her find a career and excel in it, that pushes you to wish “Cherish The Day” was 10 episodes instead of 8.
We Got Left On A Cliffhanger – 66
Well, more so we were left with the idea things could get better between Gently and Evan, but not knowing if they may ultimately end up happily ever after. Perhaps as a nod to the show’s title, we’re just reminded to cherish the day and the moments you have, rather than hoping, and praying, way down the line, things will get or be better. But, as we felt with the premiere, there is the issue of giving us these two wonderful people, who we’ve grown attached to, and then telling us we won’t see them again. Rather, a new couple will be focused on.
This, to me, and it will likely be covered in the season 2 premiere, is going to challenge “Cherish The Day’s” audience. At least considering, culturally, how much media representation means to Black folk. Especially the kind which neither preaches to the culture nor represents what many are trying to differentiate or grow from. So one can only hope each season of “Cherish The Day” operates in the same universe or neighborhood so we can hear something.
On The Fence
The Time Jumps Don’t Create The Easiest Transitions – 73
“Cherish The Day” more so pushes you taking note of moments in time than you following a strict timeline. So when it comes to why Evan’s niece goes from looking like she is 9 to a full adult, within a few years, things seem off. Also, in terms of wondering if these two moved too fast and keeping abreast with what is going on in their own life, the show taking note of the time but not saying what date it is, that can be frustrating. Making it so the transitions aren’t smooth episode to episode, and require taking note of certain dialog or context clues to reconnect with where everyone is in life, and what happened in the gap of time between each episode.
The Handling Of Evan’s Family and Friends – 74
In terms of Gently, from Miss Luma to Ben, Rika, and a lot of the show taking place in her neighborhood, her whole world is presented to us, and the people who live in it. When it comes to Evan, his parents, his seldom-seen friends, they seem established solely to note they exist and give a modicum idea of what molded Evan.
His sister especially, and her family unit, as noted above, seem almost oddly placed, and with how infrequent we see his sister and the shift which happens with her daughter, you see a stark difference between Evan’s people and Gently’s. Making it where, sometimes, you feel the show stacks the deck in Gently’s favor and pushes Miller to go beyond as an actor to make sure Evan can hold his own in a scene, and in the season.
Sometimes It Feels Like Way Too Much Was Packed In A Day – 75
At times, it is a bit overwhelming all that happens in Gently and Evan’s dad. Be it meeting, spending time with family or friends, it makes each time the clock changes, you wonder how someone can pack all that in and not be exhausted? If not, taking note of the time to understand why Gently and Evan often argue. It seems after the days they have, to not be irritable would mean you were a saint.
Rating: Positive (Watch This)
“Cherish The Day” as a whole comes off ambitious yet somehow seems effortless at the same time. Which I can only explain in it coming off ambitious in that it doesn’t wish to rehash what was already seen with new actors. Yet, in pursuing something new, you can see that creativity and ideas just poured out. There wasn’t a pursuit of making a hit, getting more money as the main goal, but more so seeing that as the byproduct of the creative process. Hence a positive rating for the first season of “Cherish The Day.”