Spike Lee Gave Puerto Rico The Star Treatment In An Episode Of ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ And Everyone Is Screaming Their Approval
Netflix has not only given voice to new talent but also provided a larger canvas to established filmmakers. Such is the case of the legendary Spike Lee, perhaps the better known African-American director in history. Lee has directed two seasons of the TV version of his debut film “She’s Gotta Have It,” in which a powerful, queer, young African-American woman from Brooklyn discovers the secrets of love, friendship, sex, and art. Nora Darling is a nascent painter who is as smart as she is magnetic, she is a Black queen who has taken full control of her mind, her body and her politics. In one of Season 2’s best episodes, episode 7 titled “#OhJudoKnow”, Nora and her friends visit Puerto Rico to bring some money and resources they collected during a concert to help some hurricane victims. Nora finds herself on the island, and Mars (her ex-lover and now BFF) visits his mother and sister. It is a transformational trip for all involved. Lee also showcased the beauty of the island and its people, as well as showing the struggles that boricuas have faced not only after the natural disaster but also historically.
These are some of the things that Spike shows us about boricua complexity and belleza, hermano.
Blackness is beautiful and needs to be depicted en todo su esplendor.
Spike Lee was one of the first American auteurs to capture the beauty of Black bodies and faces, and he does this in the episode, where the credits roll over amazing portraits of Afro-Caribbeans.
He also shows the devastation that Hurricane Maria brought on the island.
This image warms our heart (look at this loving, heroic father), but also makes us incredibly sad as it makes us think of the many tribulations the island has gone over in the past few months since Maria struck.
Lee captures the multiracial identity that makes Puerto Rico the beautiful island and community it is.
Spike Lee delves into the processes of colonization that la isla del encanto has gone over for centuries. These processes have resulted in Brown boricua identity, which is combative and festive at the same time.
We love Mars.
Mars gives us the rundown of what Puerto Rico is in all its contradictions and colorful melancholy. The Island Of Enchantment… the colors, sounds, and smells are truly hypnotic.
And no, the Spanish did not “discover” Puerto Rico.
There was an established indigenous population when the conquistadores laid foot on the island. They were massacred, enslaved and taken advantage of. Yes, by pinche Cristobal Colon.
Let’s keep it real: Columbus was not a hero.
Cristopher Columbus was not the hero that some history books have led us believe, but as Mars argues he was a malnacido mamabicho who basically started a genocide.
Yes, the people of what is now Puerto Rico were dealt a terrible hand.
Ever since its inception, Puerto Rico has had to face external, colonizing powers that when tragedy strikes simply throw toilet paper rolls at them (wink, wink).
The episode is full of joyous Puerto Rican music.
One of the best stylistic choices that Spike has taken with this show is to actually show the cover of the albums that he takes music from. Gracias, hermano Spike. The episode is full of great salsa and we can create a playlist, no problem.
Puerto Ricans are facing a power outage that doesn’t seem to stop since the hurricanes devastated the island.
Puerto Ricans have had to live with a very slow government response and power outages since Maria hit are a common feature of everyday life.
Nevertheless, San Juan is as pretty as ever.
Look at the old houses. You can almost smell the wooden furniture and feel the sun on our faces.
San Juan is synonymous with partaaaaay.
Us Latinos sure know how to party even when faced with adversity. We have had to struggle so much that we find joy in the everyday.
San Juan is a street art epicenter.
The district of Santurce was revitalized by allowing muralists and street artists to basically take over walls and create a vibrant, amazing arts district.
Of course, Nora loved it.
We mean, look at the nostalgic weirdness of this piece.
There were shots of art that are a testament to boricua women.
Can we rent a loft there already? Honestly, we just want to be surrounded by all of the beauty and majesty that is Puerto Rico.
Just stop it, we can’t take so much cool.
We can totally see this in any street art hub like Montreal, Melbourne or even Spike Lee’s hometown of Brooklyn.
Of course, Spike stopped in the barrio of La Perla, a working-class legendary site where people like the members of Calle 13 have lived.
Spike Lee kept is authentic and real with the same couch all moms and abuelas own.
Yes, we all have a relative with an ugly, cheese couch that seems to be the most important thing in the world for them.
The show proves that arroz is the key to happiness.
Family meals are a very important part of life on the island, and in many places of Latin America, Spike Lee captures this beautifully.
Of course, Rosie Perez serves us some santeria vibes.
We adored the casting of legendary Rosie Perez as Mars’ mom. We loved the fact that she is a quirky santera even more. This shows us that religiosity in the island is a true mix of indigenous and African lore, and Catholic doctrine.
The shots where the sky meets the ocean are breathtaking.
Blue versus blue. Need we say more?
There is music everywhere in the show and that is something that you will experience in real life.
Nora is captivated by a trumpet player on top of a historical site. Music is part of everyday life, and the Puerto Rican diaspora has generated huge stars and huge revenue (just ask the likes of J-Lo!).
Spike Lee totally captured the politicized identity of Puerto Ricans.
Mars rides a bike and sings the Puerto Rican freedom song with gusto, and with a bit of rage. Puerto Ricans like poet Martin Espada, among many others, have long fought for autonomy, and their struggle continues.
Did we mention the unapologetic Black, Caribbean beauty?
OMG. Does it get more empowering and beautiful than this? Nora saw herself reflected on this tall, magnificent woman.
Dance, santeros, the ocean… yes, please.
That dance by the beach with full African drumming and santeria rituals just connected us to a time before time, to the pride of a people that has historically been dispossessed.
And that homage to Roberto Clemente gave us all the feels.
Yes, the best and bravest pelotero to come out of the island, and one of the first Latino sports figures who broke the glass ceiling of U.S. sports.