Watch it for...
The smart writing in this Mississippi Delta-style portrait of both motherhood and the sex industry, and the tough-tender spot where the two worlds overlap.
P-Valley’s pilot episode opens in the aftermath of a hurricane, where we meet Autumn Night (who goes by a few other names too) fishing a stranger’s suitcase out of the murky water. She snatches the ID inside, along with a new identity. We learn through flashbacks that the disaster she fled is more manmade than natural, and she left a lot more behind than soggy furniture or black mold. After a bus ride to the fictional town of Chucalissa, Mississippi, Autumn wins an amateur night “booty battle” at a local shake joint called The Pynk, and finds a prickly, new family of sorts among the strippers on staff.
Playing matriarch is the club’s sharp-tongued, gender-bending owner, Uncle Clifford. Starring as Autumn’s rival is club legend Mercedes, but as the season unfolds, the pair find they have more in common than they realized. When the church Mercedes’ mom attends joins forces with big-money real estate interests to shut down The Pynk, Autumn and Mercedes team up to save it, but the cost may be too high. P-Valley’s plotlines and themes glide gracefully through a minefield of tough topics, from colorism in the Black community and homophobia in the rap world to the legacy of slavery and the cotton trade.
Though The Pynk is fictional, showrunner Katori Hall drew its inspiration from all the pole dancing and make-it-rain-showers she says were just part of the scenery growing up as a Black girl in the South, so even though I’m not from her world, I trust her depiction is legit. I’ve never worked in the Mississippi Delta, but I have worked as a stripper (decades ago!) and could relate to the profession’s universal truths sprinkled throughout the show, namely that a stripper’s job description can so often read more like an actor’s or a therapist’s, or most of all, a mother’s. P-Valley’s serious take on a world that rarely gets taken seriously makes for an honest and unique watch. I can’t recommend it enough.
Find P-Valley on Hulu!