Written By: Beverly Kwakye
For anyone who favors the thrill of a good heist, deception, control, and the art of seduction, they will also enjoy this edge of your seat drama series coming soon to Starz.
P-Valley takes viewers into the world of exotic dancing, the lives of those dancers, and the all-around hustle of money over power and control. Based on American Playwright Katori Hall’s play, P-Valley stars actors Brandee Evans as Mercedes, Nicco Annan as Uncle Clifford, Shannon Thornton as Miss Mississippi, Elarica Johnson as Autumn Night, J. Alphonse Nicholson as Lil’ Murda, and other notable faces.
In P-Valley money talks. The common theme this series channels is how money plays into deceit, lust, and jealously, which in turn leads to the control of broken women. In this series, every dancer has a story, but regardless of that hardship or story off-stage, every dancer smugly carries themselves by keeping friends close but enemies closer. Viewers will see this theme emerge repeatedly with the club’s top dancers Mercedes, as she interacts with the other dancers whom she feels may be competitors or obstacles to her success at Pynk.
Mercedes has a love-hate relationship with her mother Patrice. Patrice can be viewed as an obstacle in Mercedes’s life because she symbolizes the overtly religious parental guide who disapproves of her daughter’s profession thus knocking off some of her daughter’s confidence and pride. Despite the disapproval, Patrice still relies on Mercedes’s dirty money to fund her godly deeds.
This is when deceit comes into play. Mercedes’s character embodies jealously and deceit through her interactions with those around her. When the newcomer Autumn comes around, the amount of money she easily makes despite her lack of skills and experience in the profession angers Mercedes. This anger turns into a mental competition of cat and mouse between the two dancers, who mentally act as competitors when at the club.
P-Valley is a thematic series. Multiple themes are explored in this Starz show. There is the transparent theme of escaping demons in search of a new beginning and the less obscure theme of forgiving enemies through partnership. The theme of escaping demons first emerges in Autumn’s introduction as she develops her alias and ultimately establishes her character. This is important because this is how she begins to find her strength. She is first introduced as a woman with a broken spirit.
This series strays away from using a common narrative by working multiple storylines into one. The act of doing so creates a compelling and complex series. Each character appears to be battling inner demons off-stage but in different avenues of life. From abuse to neglect to the attempt to get by in life, Pynk serves as a haven of escape for the dancers, but unfortunately, the trouble they desire to flee from exists in that very place, too. While the dancers carry the burdens of their outside life in their subconscious, they harbor their inner burdens of their work-life through their behaviors.
The women wish to abandon their real-life demons while working, but they continue to act in ways that exemplify the characteristics of those demons. Finessing men, the control clients have over dancers, and the money they tolerate for exploitation are all concepts that mirror the abusive relationships present in several of the women’s lives outside of the club. Many of the dancers come from abusive relationships or broken families consisting of maltreatment. The women get the exact treatment from their clients as they do from the outside, their families, and significant others. This is proof that it is not entirely the money that drives these women to do what they do, but it is the vision of using the club to find their escape. Ultimately, they cannot find their escape if they cannot find themselves first.
P-Valley is the show that leaves viewers asking whether the dancers will ever truly find their escape. Trouble seems to follow in the form of friends, backstabbing, and deceit in every direction. Working with abrasive women on stage contributes to the characters’ inability to find inner peace with themselves. Because this show deals with various complex situations, every character’s struggle is somewhat of a domino-effect to the next character. Each character is distinct in their own way and is important to the storyline without overshadowing the other.
Money is a central theme that shows how one character’s misuse of funds can somehow fall onto others, leading their issue to become damaging to everyone. Whether their escape is mental or physical, the stage has proved to deliver divisiveness more so than provide an escape or solace from the mental baggage that was intended to be left behind.
Starz subscribers can catch P-Valley premiering this Sunday, July 12 on Starz.
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