P-Valley is Top Tier

Lil Murda is our man now and Uncle Clifford has to deal.

Photo: Kyle Kaplan, P-Valley, 2021 Starz Ent, LLC

Spoiler alert* Don’t come reading this if you haven’t watched the grand fi-fi-fi-finale of P-Valley! *in my Uncle Clifford voice.*

Katori Hall’s P-Valley has disrupted our lives in the best way possible with her TV-drama that highlights the imaginary town of Chucalissa, Mississippi. The show chronicles the characters that the strip club, The Pynk, bring together owned by Uncle Clifford (Nicco Anaan).

Now, I have to admit that although I’d heard great things about the show in Season 1, it was my husband’s song placement in Season 2 that finally brought me to the show. And boy, was I in for a ride.

Each week, we were devouring the tales of this animated southern town knowing the song he produced, Jazmine Sullivan’s “The Other Side,” wouldn’t actually appear until Episode 10. But from the first episode, we were hooked. So much so, during their break for a week, I went and watched the whole first season.

From the moment Uncle Clifford enters a scene, she is magnetic. All eyes are on her. Tall, flamboyant, and lace fronts on fleek. But there is also a spirit Anaan radiates through the character that immediately draws you in. Uncle Clifford cares for every single person in that club deeply from Big L to all the fabulous girls!

The season has been all about survival for the characters as we’ve watched the ups and downs of everyone from Mercedes to Keyshawn and even poor Diamond in the final scene of the finale. Guess we’ll have to see if he makes it out of the trunk. But the real show stopper all season has been the relationship between Uncle Clifford and Lil or Big Murda (J. Alphonse Nicolson), depending on your taste.

I am not sure we have ever seen a queer love story done this tenderly in the history of television. While some episodes this season may have sparked some negative banter on Twitter, for those of us who love and appreciate cinema, we have been enveloped in the connection between Uncle Cliff and Lil Murda. It’s the care. Lil Murda helping to take care of Cliff’s grandmother Ernestine (Loretta Devine). It’s them laying in bed and having pillow talk about life and dreams. And damnit the way that Lil Murda melts Uncle Cliff with those stares every time, well … it’s been one of the most beautiful things to see unfold. Showcasing this steadfast love for a non-binary character feels like it’s monumental for television and absolutely captivating to watch.

Lil Murda is a closeted rapper and gang member who spent time away and found himself in love with his homie turned security, Teak (John Clarence Stewart). We have seen immense growth in this character’s career from a struggling rapper trying to make it, to his performance with Tina Snow (Megan the Stallion) and the possibility of a tour as an opening act.

All season we watch him struggle with the desire to be himself. Even risking his relationship with Teak to reveal his true feelings for Uncle Clifford. And honey, the reveal in the finale took all of our breath away as Lil Murda crept up from behind on Uncle Clifford at her grandmother’s welcome home party after she nearly saw death due to COVID-19. Lil Murda was no longer allowing Uncle Clifford to push him away in the name of “salvaging his career.” He was staking his claim not only of his partner, but who he really is. And I mean, which of us wants to constantly wear a mask? “Not I,” said the cat.

I think we all wanted to cheer from the damn rooftops that finally, Uncle Cliff and Lil Murda could exist outside of the four walls of Uncle Cliff’s bedroom. They were revealing themselves in the light and received with love from their club framily.

Look, I was a goner when Lil Murda walked up in there leaning on the jukebox, playing her song with the track suit with no shirt under it. So I knew Uncle Clifford didn’t stand a chance. Ha!

Brava! To everyone involved especially Katori Hall as her vision for the show has certainly carried through. To dive into the world of sex work and homosexuality and do it so gently yet in a raw and authentic way, well, this is a show that I feel like we needed. And give Nicco and J. Alphonse ALL OF THE THINGS! You hear me? These fools are giving acting masterclasses every single week. Because J only has one more smoldering gaze before we all gotta share Lil Murda.

I cannot wait to see where Season 3 is going to take us as this Casino is still coming, Keyshawn still ain’t killed Derek, and we get to see what all this means for Uncle Cliff and Lil Murda one our most endearing couples in the current television landscape.

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Ashley M. Coleman

Writer and Author of GOOD MORNING, LOVE. Avid tweeter, because what is life without these jokes? http://ashleymcoleman.com.