Television

P-Valley Episode 2

pvs01e02
Uncle Clifford sees through all of Hayley’s lies. Photosource: Starz

Logically, I know a show about strippers in Missouri will not be to everyone’s taste. Acknowledging that, I still say P-Valley is wildly underrated.

Yes, this is a show about strippers unlike other movies or series on sex workers, they’re not using nudity as a handrail. Thanks to the all-female slate of directors they are showcasing the phenomenal talents of dancers but in a way that centers on the women themselves and not on the male gaze or male consumption of strippers. Now that’s called skill.

And it only got better with this week’s episode.

The Pynk is packed and thriving, unfortunately for Autumn (aka Hayley), she won’t be able to enjoy it for much longer, let alone make it to the lucrative neon Paradise Room. Uncle Clifford is demanding ID and while we know she has some, the fact that she fished it out of a random suitcase during a flood means it’s probably not safe to give to her employer. Clifford tells her to produce one tomorrow night or else. Clock’s ticking for Hayley.

Although it’s Clifford who is really running out of time. He owes a whopping $55,000 and since he can’t pay there’s a real chance he will lose the Pynk. The loyal Mercedes offers to help but even her funds can’t come close to that amount, and withdrawing them from her mother’s church is proving to be more difficult than it should be. While the churchgoers love to slam Mercedes and for her stripping, they have no problem keeping her money.

Speaking of greedy people, we were introduced to some new financial prospects in this episode. The Kyle family is composed of two white brothers and their very light-skinned half brother, Corbin who happens to be a big fan of the Pynk. To give you an idea of Wyatt and Wayne Kyle, the first time they met Andre, a Black man, he is taking a picture of their cotton field and they decide it’s a good idea to yell out “pick some” at him. Yeah, not a great start for a character, but a brilliant way to introduce the underlying racial tensions of Chucalissa. As I said, there is a lot of skill happening in this show.

Unsurprisingly, the Kyle brothers spent their inheritance and want to sell the land to the new casino coming to Chucalissa, but half-brother Corbin, who was never fully acknowledged by the family until now, has a better idea. Well, one that frustrates his brothers and earns him more money, so better for him really. He insists on leasing the land to turn a multi-million dollar profit. Andre steps in as the negotiator and Corbin’s venue of choice is of course the Pynk, and while Andre ultimately refuses Corbin’s offer of a kickback he does get to spend some one on one time with Hayley and the two connect about their mysterious scars.

Not the most romantic connection, but it proves useful. When Hayley ultimately gives Clifford the Lakeisha Savage ID only for him to see through it within seconds the only reason he decides to keep her around is so she can press Andre for more information about this casino, which is not exactly what she does when she calls him later that night but it’s safe to say she found a way to get closer to him.

Safe to say there’s a lot happening in every episode.

Just to focus on our main character, Hayley, we know she escaped a violent relationship, survived a flood, changed her name, had a baby girl at some point, and as we saw in this episode during her panic attack at the annual car wash, she also had a traumatic experience about being trapped underwater in a car. We don’t know the full story about any of these or what will happen in the future. We just have to keep on watching.

All of which goes to show that critics of P-Valley that say all these story points are shallow have got it wrong. This show isn’t a bore, it’s a tease. They’re giving us snippets of all of these intense story lines sandwiched between clever dialogue to dangle the next episode in front of us, and so far it’s working. It’s not for everyone, of course. If you’re feeling vexed while keeping track of the lives of all these different characters then you should quit now, it doesn’t suddenly get simple from here. But, if you choose to entangle yourself in the lives of these women it’s only going to get better.

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