P-VALLEY IS A DRAMA about employees of a fictional strip club in Mississippi called The Pynk. Watching the show, which Starz has renewed for a third season, gives me déjà vu. In the opening minutes of the first episode, we see a neighborhood overtaken by a flood, the camera eventually focusing on a floating suitcase — which a woman who looks like she just survived a hurricane grabs. I’m reminded of Toni Morrison’s titular character Beloved, who “walked out of the water”; it’s all instantly reminiscent of the Southern, sin-filled aura of stories by Flannery O’Connor. A few minutes later, I’m hit with production design as colorful as that of the TV show Pose — unabashed theatricality.
This description should feel as dizzying as twirling around a stripper pole — that’s the inevitable impact of the artistic and spiritual heft P-Valley wields. The show, which is an adaptation of a play by Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award nominee Katori Hall, is about nothing less than free will. Hall explores complex topics such as sex work, abuse by men, abortion, and homophobia. Here in the Mississippi Delta, viewers get to know a mostly Black community trying to live as freely as the Constitution of their nation built by slaves declares white men should.