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.
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, some New Orleans type of spiritual healing 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 is a cohesive unit of a family. Especially that 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 aren’t lighter toned to have opportunities to shine.
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
I got to admit, 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.