Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

USA - Mo­re than fi­ve ye­ars af­ter it went on the air, OWN, Oprah Win­frey’s ca­ble chan­nel, still see­ms as if it’s trying to de­fi­ne itself. So per­haps it’s no sur­pri­se that its la­test se­ries, Qu­een Su­gar, feels that way too. The show, which be­gins on Tues­day, is de­fi­ni­te­ly a dra­ma, but it su­re is a hod­ge­pod­ge of to­nes and to­pics. The se­ries, ba­sed on a no­vel by Na­ta­lie Bas­zi­le and using fe­ma­le di­rec­tors for each of its first-sea­son epi­so­des, em­ploys one of the most overus­ed setups the­re is, the all-co­me-ho­me tro­pe, to get things star­ted. A de­ath in the Bor­de­lon fa­mi­ly brings three not-very-clo­se adult si­blings back to the old ho­mestead — in this ca­se, in Loui­si­a­na — whe­re long-es­ta­blis­hed ten­si­ons fla­re with num­bing fre­quen­cy. This is the ty­pe of fa­mi­ly in which no one ever says tho­se one or two ex­tra sen­ten­ces that would head off mis­un­der­stan­dings or pre­vent brui­sed fee­lings. The si­blings are of cour­se ra­di­cally dif­fe­rent, be­cau­se that’s the ru­le in the­se stress-riddled fa­mi­ly ta­bleaus. The­re is Char­ley (Dawn-Ly­en Gard­ner), an ef­fi­cient cri­sis­ma­na­ge­ment sort of wo­man mar­ried to a pro­fes­si­o­nal bas­ket­ball play­er (Ti­mon Ky­le Dur­rett). The­re is No­va (Ru­ti­na We­sley), a jour­na­list who al­so dab­bles in out-oft­he-main­stream spi­ri­tu­a­li­ty. And their bro­ther, Ralph An­gel (Ko­fi Si­ri­boe), is a brooding ty­pe with a pri­son re­cord. The show’s cre­a­tor, Ava DuVer­nay, wants the se­ries to seem cut­ting-ed­ge, so she gi­ves it so­me hot­but­ton plot­lines. Char­ley and her hus­band, Da­vis, seem to ha­ve the ide­al mar­ria­ge un­til he be­co­mes cau­ght up in a sports sex scan­dal in which ac­cu­sa­ti­ons of ra­pe fly, and sud­den­ly Char­ley’s abi­li­ty to be in con­trol fails her. Ralph An­gel’s young son, Blue (Ethan Hut­chi­son), li­kes to play with dolls, and his fa­ther is not O.K. with this kind of iden­ti­ty ex­plo­ra­ti­on. But the show al­so wants to be a lush, ti­til­la­ting ro­man­ce. When we meet No­va,she’s in bed with her whi­te, mar­ried lo­ver. By the end of the third epi­so­de Char­ley see­ms to be war­ming to a lo­cal fel­low alt­hough she’s still mar­ried. And are Ralph An­gel and Blue’s tea­cher stri­king a spark?

Then the­re’s the sa­ve-thefarm an­g­le. The si­blings find them­sel­ves in pos­ses­si­on of the fa­mi­ly su­gar ope­ra­ti­on, which had fal­len dor­mant. Will they be for­ced to sell, or can they over­co­me their dif­fe­ren­ces and ma­ke a go of it? It’s a throw­back to Dust Bowl-era sto­ries. It al­so ta­kes three epi­so­des for that ques­ti­on to jell, though it pre­su­ma­bly will be the foun­da­ti­o­nal one as this se­ries, which has al­rea­dy been gi­ven a se­cond sea­son, mo­ves along.

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