Nola Darling in She’s Gotta Have It is one of the freest Black women I have ever seen on TV and I do not mean just in a “sexually free” way. Nola Darling is one of the most emotionally free Black women I have ever seen on TV.
The catalyst of She’s Gotta Have It Season 1 occurs in Episode 1 when Nola experiences unwanted and aggressive advances from a stranger which leaves her traumatized. When the incident occurred, I completely missed the severity of it — not because of the writing or the acting (which were excellent,) but because the incident is not an uncommon occurrence in society.
My reaction was similar to that of the Masters of None Season 1, Episode 7: “Ladies and Gentleman” episode where a woman is being followed and harassed by a stranger. She goes through all the expected emotions in that moment: fear, anxiety, etc., but once the situation is over and done with, she seemingly goes back to her daily routine as if nothing happened.
The episode acknowledges the societal absurdity of those restricted feelings when the male characters are more shocked and emotional than the ladies and the women respond by saying “if you’re born with a vagina, creepy dudes are just a part of the deal.” That mentality coincided with my own as I watched the same thing happen to Nola.
But in She’s Gotta Have It, Nola is able to feel the true weight of the attack. She is able to process it, express it, as well as acknowledge and deal with the residual effects concerning the traumatic experience. As the season continued, Nola was able to explore herself emotionally, and she began to feel emotionally foreign to me, and I was intrigued by her.
I realized Nola possessed an emotional intelligence muscle elusive to my psyche. Due to my own personal misconception of having to “deal with creepy guys because you have a vagina,” I have latently developed a certain degree of numbness to the severity and trauma of those types of aggression. That numbness must have somehow weakened my own emotional intelligence muscle, thus restricting me from being as emotionally free as my on-screen counterpart.
The strength of Nola’s emotional intelligence allowed her to live her best emotionally free life. This led to her openly and honestly having her three suitors over for Thanksgiving (which was followed by her “it’s complicated” friend, Opal, coming over), as her career approached stardom following a street art series she created as a result of her emotional acknowledgment of her traumatic incident.
Ultimately, watching the emotionally free Nola Darling in She’s Gotta Have It feels really good and I recommend it especially if you’re looking for a flex to your own emotional intelligence muscle.
By: Megan Maher
Author Bio: Megan Maher is a creative professional, research scientist of clandestine magic, and is currently located in Los Angeles, CA.