Spike Lee keeps fixing She's Gotta Have It

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In the Netflix adaptation for TV of Spike Lee’s 80s film She’s Gotta Have It, the director attempts to fix his past mistakes. Picture: Supplied
In the Netflix adaptation for TV of Spike Lee’s 80s film She’s Gotta Have It, the director attempts to fix his past mistakes. Picture: Supplied

She’s Gotta Have It

Available on Netflix SA

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Much has been written about the series She’s Gotta Have It, and the reviews have been mixed. But that hasn’t deterred Netflix from giving director Spike Lee’s film reboot a second season on the streaming service.

Lee’s 1986 feature film, which he wrote, directed and starred in, got a 10-episode “contemporary update” last year on Netflix.

The story revolves around Nola Darling, a Brooklyn-based artist in her late 20s, who finds herself trying to juggle a social life, personal ambitions and three romantic interests – the cultured model, Greer Childs; the protective investment banker, Jamie Overstreet; and da original b-boy sneakerhead, Mars Blackmon. Each of these men serves a different purpose in Nola’s life.

This storyline should be great, but, because I watched the series before the film (also available on Netflix), I didn’t quite see what Lee was trying to do with this reboot. After watching the movie, it was obvious – he was trying to redo the show to correct the mistakes of the original film for the more woke audience he’s trying to reach. And so, in parts, Nola will remind you of a bad version of Insecure’s Issa Dee.

Although the film was most probably groundbreaking at the time by featuring female sexuality in a new light, it wasn’t exactly a perfect feminist manifesto.

The scene towards the end of the film in which Nola’s character is raped by one of her boyfriends was revised in the show, as was Lee’s problematic treatment of sexual assault in the original.

Lee has since expressed his regret over including that scene. In an interview with online magazine Deadline in 2014, the director said: “I don’t really have any regrets. Check that. You know what my biggest regret is? The rape scene in She’s Gotta Have It. If I was able to have any do-overs, that would be it. It was just totally … stupid. I was immature. It made light of rape, and that’s the one thing I would take back. I was immature and I hate that I did not view rape as the vile act that it is. I can promise you, there will be nothing like that in She’s Gotta Have It the TV show, that’s for sure.”

However, the Netflix adaptation had a disappointing end to season one. The last episode was an anticlimax that left you with nothing learnt after 10 episodes.

The episode ends with a dance number that doesn’t pay off any of the emotional layers of the story and feels like another opportunity for Lee to pander to his musical tastes, which made me understand why so many people say that Lee doesn’t know how to end any of his projects.

And so, while Nola Darling continues to struggle to figure her life out in the new and, tragically, gentrified Brooklyn, the show in parts accurately depicts what it’s like to be a woman today. In doing so, Lee rectifies his past mistake in irresponsibly portraying violence against women. Hopefully, in the second season, Lee will try to lose the stereotype that women are irrational and indecisive – or at least that there is anything wrong with being indecisive.

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