• Nina Sahar

What She Got : My First Response to Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It Adaptation

Spike Lee’s timeless, controversial, incisive 1986 feature film made its way into our living rooms last week.

Only days after its release it was a trending topic on Twitter and in conversation among myself and my friends.

I saw myself in Nola Darling, and that was a first.

As a young adult, as a young black woman, as an artist, as a writer, as a recent graduate, as a girl saving to afford her own apartment, I have never met a character who so accurately told my story. I often found myself wondering if Spike Lee might have stumbled upon that journal I lost on the bus last summer, or if maybe he had been stalking my friends and I on instagram. This is not to say I can imagine Spike as a social media stalker, but rather that I cannot otherwise imagine how else he could have managed to create such a nuanced, real, character. This series, that I binge watched after Thanksgiving dinner, gave me the same sort of tender satisfaction as listening to Ctrl from start to finish.

Much like SZA’s break-out album, this is a project for the “twenty-somethings.”

And believe me, we needed it.

I should mention that I was equally as captivated by the original movie. And it was for that reason that I was fearful of the series’ release. I was skeptical of how an adaptation would capture the lighthearted complexity of the original Nola Darling. I found myself asking how Nola could fit into a generation so far from the Black and White reality she was created in. Spike Lee answered with a series that was more culturally relevant than I could have imagined. She’s Gotta Have It tells the story of a young girl who believes herself to be fiercely independent, and yet finds herself latching entangled in four separate “relationships.” While she might argue that she doesn’t rely on any one person for her happiness, the monster she builds out of all their best traits definitely offers her some consolation as she figures the more complicated parts of her life. Nola Darling in 1986 was classified as a freak. Her sexuality, or perhaps more accurately how she embraced sex, isolated her.

I know so many women like Nola, who put relationships on the back burner as they chase their dreams. Who reject conventional forms of commitment and at the same time fear being alone. For the first time, those women, my friends and I, and other girls like us, have a character that makes our ambition, drive, passion, fear, confusion, and even regret, feel normal.