The show P-Valley, a powerful and provocative original series on Starz, offers a fresh and raw look at the lives of strippers at a Mississippi club called The Pynk. The show, created by Katori Hall, a Pulitzer Prize- and Olivier Award-winning playwright and television producer from Memphis, Tennessee, is a captivating blend of drama, comedy, and musical elements that explores the complexities of the dancers’ personal and professional lives and showcases their struggles, aspirations, triumphs, and relationships.
The first two seasons introduce us to diverse characters with unique stories. From the club’s charismatic owner, Uncle Clifford, to the ambitious stripper, Mercedes, to the newcomer, Autumn Night, the show presents a nuanced and empathetic portrayal of the people who work at The Pynk.
I was skeptical when I sat down to watch the first episode. I anticipated gratuitous nudity; instead, I got sharp and insightful writing tackling essential themes such as sexuality, class, race, and self-discovery.
Sexism is a central theme that permeates the series. Exchanges between characters highlight the prejudice strippers face and the stigmas associated with strip clubs. For example, in Season One, Autumn and Mercedes discuss a customer who belittles Autumn by saying, “She has a pretty face but no real talent…She’s just shaking her ass for money.” But it takes tremendous hard work and talent to dance on the pole. Every dancer must be physically and mentally fit every time she steps on the stage.
In addition, the performances are first-rate, especially from lead actors Nicco Annan, who also appears in Greenleaf and The Haves and the Have Nots, and Brandee Evans, who has appeared on other shows but, most impressively, is the CEO of the Hip Hop in Heels® fitness platform that focuses on women’s empowerment. Both actors bring their characters to life with depth and nuance.
The musical elements of P-Valley are noteworthy, as the show’s soundtrack complements the themes and tone of the series. From classic R&B to hip-hop, the music adds an extra layer of energy and emotion to the scenes, and the musical numbers featuring the dancers are mesmerizing. “Trinity Dance” by Tokyo Vanity in Season One is an example. The dance routine was performed by three dancers on stage together, known as “The Trinity,” and y’all, they killed it. From electrifying performances, and innovative, boundary-pushing choreography, this dance is a standout moment in the show because of unique and creative choreography, the sheer power of athletic performance, and the ability to be both sensual and powerful. Overall, the song mirrors the intensity and vigor of every move “The Trinity” makes on stage.
The first two seasons of P-Valley are available now on Starz; a third has been confirmed, although no release date has been announced. Although I trust the third season will be as entertaining as the first two, Hailey Colton, a.k.a. Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson), will not return for Season Three. Johnson stated in a previous interview that she chose not to return because she felt Autumn Night’s journey had ended. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see what happens next at The Pynk.
P-Valley is a must-watch for fans of drama, comedy, and music, and for anyone looking for a show that celebrates diversity and human complexity. Don’t miss your chance to experience a raw and authentic look at the lives of strippers in a world where they are often misunderstood and misrepresented.
STAGE & SCREEN
Created by Katori Hall
Available to stream on STARZ