Power swaggered its way into our lives last summer, and surprisingly, it’s pretty good. I say surprisingly because 50 Cent is attached to the show, and he’s not exactly known for making anything that isn’t Direct-to-DVD-to-Bodega-and-Barbershop. In fact, the last time I saw 50 do something worth being in a theater was Get Rich or Die Tryin’.
But I digress.
S2 of Power has been thoroughly and handily deconstructing S1, breaking down all the lies we were told and poking holes in damn near every plot point. In short: the show is coming apart. Whether that’s good or bad has yet to be understood. But for now, let’s look back on the distant and more recent past and enjoy some life lessons that the good folks of Power have provided, at their expense. Spoilers ahead.
Ask Your Partner the Hard Questions
First off, let’s address the big, fat, black panther in the room: the entirety of S1 of Power hinged on the fact that Angie and Ghost are not really people, and therefore don’t do real things. Like, for instance: asking your partner what the fuck they do for a living and diving into their lives. The show really tries to sell us this Bronx Tale-esque, wrong-side-of-Gunhill-road, I-wrote-you-letters-to-333-Christian-Street-every-summer ass narrative of star-crossed love. But honestly, it only worked because we were too busy worrying about whether or not Lobos was gonna turn Ghost into a primo or a Hudson River Special. That said, the two really are cross-eyed in their love. As they try to “play house” they weave perpetual blankets of lies between each other’s sheets, until the middle of S2.
Now, while their relationship is sure to end in Riker’s visiting hours or in yellow tape, yours doesn’t have to.
Seriously: communicate with whoever you’re sharing your genitalia (or not. word to my aesexual spectrum folks out there) with, for real. Especially if you ain’t seen them for 10+ years. They might actually be an artisan cake decorator who traveled to Thailand…or they might be a drug kingpin who somehow has dodged Stop & Frisk, the IRS, Giuliani, and the NYPD, all while running a profitable nightclub and staying off Facebook (Seriously, Angie didn’t think once to search Ghost up on teh facebookz? The Google? Or Twitter? Shit, even BlackPlanet?)
Trust is Worth its Weight in Gold
Now, while we all indulge a bit in the culture of The Streets™, most of us don’t know a bird from a key and couldn’t tell you how to break down That White if our lives depended on it. There’s no shame in that. There’s also no shame if you do. Just remember the Feds, and Jesus, is watching.
What I’m trying to say is that I know for a fact that I couldn’t be no damn drug kingpin. Shit too skressful, breh. Because you can’t trust nobody. No. Body.
Honestly, look at Ghost. Dude has murdered at least 8 people solely off of information from certain folks that * we * know are out to get him. Shit, Ghost murked his surrogate son off that shit. While that particular murder sparked possibly one of the best scenes in S1, it also shows you that paranoia will only get you so far.
And if we’ve learned anything in the drug game, from Nas to Bodie and Frank White to Nino Brown, it’s that trust is hard to come by and even harder to maintain. Especially when the stakes involve guns, angry connects, and LaLa’s tetonas. So, definitely invest in that shit now on ETrade.
Cite Your Sources
Speaking of trust, sometimes it’s important to cite your sources and double-check things. For instance, should you believe the muhfucka you sent to jail when he tells you that your boy put a hit on your operation?
That’s some silly ass math, yo.
Sometimes I really do wonder how Ghost has managed to stay alive all these years in this show. Not to mention the fact that him always running around in the hood in those tailored suits is about as loud as the BART is when those wheels screech (I swear I’m going to lose my hearing by 45 if I keep using BART).
Point is, make sure you can trust who you’re trusting. And, always have at least two sources when you’re trying to divine key information. Otherwise, you’ll have killed your own protege and be too busy giving Angie from The Block the business afterwards to think straight.
Sex Ain’t Everything
This is a tough one, but it needs to be addressed: Tasha and Angie are sexual foils on Power.
What I mean by that is, both characters have consistent track records of using sex (or at least, the appeal and possible promise of it) to get their way. While the show often plays this in a weird, non-empowering way, it’s not without merit for shining some light on a muddy subject, in muddy situations. The sad part is that the muddier it gets, the more desperate both women seem, in spite of their more admirable shots at being complex and full characters. But that’s an issue I’ll take squarely with the writers. Thus, this isn’t a judgement on these women, but the aspects of interpersonal politics that the writing uses them to employ.
For instance: sex may get you info about Ghost’s whereabouts, but it won’t keep that waffle colored beefcake from wandering into Boricua pastures. Similarly, sex may get you access to FBI records, but it also undermines your own arguments about trying to fight sexism in the workplace. This is especially damning and weird in light of recent episodes, where Angie ends up fighting an uphill battle on a mountain of dick-led sexism during their investigation.
While I will always root for her to continue to be smarter, and arguably better, than her colleagues, I am often confuzzled at the wavering moral compass the show throws at you throughout.
Thus as a viewer, for both Tasha and Angie, I wish for nothing but a large dose of “do better, sistah-girl,” because this shit is getting ridiculous at this point. Angie has flashed her poom poom as a carrot on a stick so much that I’ve wondered if she sees herself. For real, there’s no irony everytime she tries that stale-ass “smoky sexy eyes” routine. Even “I look like a serial killer” Greg is tired of it.
Similarly, I wanted to just hold Tasha when she had the nerve to be jealous that LaKeisha wanted to put her pussy on Shawn’s sideburns. Girl. Do you see yourself? You’ve been baiting Shawn more than a Instagram thirst trap talm bout “I got new shoes.”
Is Power saying it’s only empowering and chill when they decide to flash that thang for some favors, and not when others do? What type of weird sexual politics is this? The show generates so many questions and not enough answers!
Crude analogies aside, Power is quite bad at managing this particular aspect of the show and I feel like a bad feminist-accomplice for even engaging this shit. But it’s fiction, and I know better. So, for every lame attempt to illustrate workplace sexism and paternalistic power dynamics, I try to hold out for better depictions of these women’s struggles on this show. Or, at the very least, some more powerful examples of muddy personal and professional politics. Luckily, we’ve gotten some much better positioning (for both Angie and Tasha) in episode 5, but there is much to be done to undo the weirdness of previous eps.
So do better, Power. And folks, don’t always use sex to get what you want. It leads you to having less credibility and Frankie being 4-5 seconds from putting her foot in ya ass, all while slaying in a black dress with matching clutch. Or, it’ll have you irrationally mad that LaLa is gracing
my eyes Kanan’s son with them Honey Nut Cheerios.
Cheating Ain’t Cute
Now I know I just went in on the misuse (narrow representation?) of female sexuality. So let me come at Ghost for a second.
I forgot who coined this originally, but I’ll give credit to Kriss at The Movie Trailer Reviews:
Your dick ain’t ya friend. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not right now.
99.9888% of the time, this is the Lord’s truth.
For example: Angie must have the ill nana, because over the last 13 episodes Ghost has:
-Lied to Tasha more times than Pinocchio.
-Rented a secret apartment/hotel room, just for rendezvous. Despite the fact that he’s trying to hide his spending from Tasha.
-Continues to rent a secret apartment/hotel room, even though his business begins to tank due to the shooting and Stern’s slaveholder mentalities.
-Took Angie’s narrow behind to Miami as “Mrs. St. Patrick.”
-Even though he should’ve been there strictly to interrogate and murk the Pink Shoes Killa™.
-Sloppily didn’t think to cover his tracks during any of this, like, idk, throwing away any records of what hotel he stayed at.
-Berates Tommy with no irony about dating Holly, even though Ghost is quite literally sleeping with the woman who’s trying to put them both in jail.
-Has effectively abandoned his responsibilities as a father in every way except financially, leaving weak ass voice mails for his three children.
-Has the nerve to get mad when Tasha acts like any other wife scorned by infidelity.
-Has even more nerve to try to convince Tasha to be his partner even though she has noooo reason to trust his overly-muscled ass.
Point is: stop looking for grass that might be greener when the garden you’re tending needs care. For someone who seems to be thoroughly concerned with professionalism, making it out of the game, and having power, Ghost is a controlling, cheating, lying, ole ya-word-ain’t-worth-a-penny-in-hell, ass dude. And what’s more, he’s been holding onto some peak lighstkin-level hurt after being dumped by Angie way back when.
Seriously, dude has come so close to being killed, discredited, destroying his family, and worse just by letting his 16-year-old wet dreams (see: “love”) dictate his actions as a grown ass man. For a show that wants to be as cerebral as it is street, it’s hard to find a ideological rock to stand on within this maelstrom of foolery. Sometimes I think ole boy is trying to figure it out too. Maybe that’s why he left Being Mary Jane.
All I can say, for real for real, is this all could’ve been avoided if Ghost had some Sadé tapes, a bottle of wine, a good counselor, and a hug or two.
No Country for Rich Old White Men
Despite my woes (woes!) about Power, one thing always makes me smile a bit: this show is so brown. Like Bobby Brown. Snickers Brown. Chocolate Suede Timbs Brown. W 125th Street and Malcolm X Blvd Brown. There’s enough Spanish, “ebonics,” and general New York culture in this show to rival an episode of the now defunct Desus v Mero. Word to Courtney Kemp Agboh for keeping the show in NYC and trying to portray an authentically New York experience. The world is so ethnic that when a white person (that isn’t Tommy) is on-screen, it feels out of place. Case in point: top white man in charge, Simon Stern.
If there was ever a poster child for “evil rich white guy,” it’s him. Dude leaves a bad taste in your mouth, like aspartame. And even though you saw it coming, there was nothing more delicious than seeing him say shit like “blacks and latins” and “James” with that racist, condescending tone of his.
Now, we all know that #NotAll old rich white men are evil and deficient in the soul category. But, there’s something delectable and fun knowing that Stern is an evil son of a bitch. From trying to belittle Ghost to basically using him as his errand boy (see: slave), all while cheating Ghost out of his club, Stern is a mastermind of trickery and fuckery.
While I personally hope he gets a good bullet to the chest this (next?) season, I will enjoy his evil nature in the meantime. If only for the fact that Ghost deserves some type of punishment for trying to have two families at once and being willingly blind to his own bullshit.
Moral of the story here though? For every Bernie Sanders and Warren Buffet, there are countless Donald Trumps. #staywoke
We’re more than halfway through S2, so only Kanan knows what the future holds. I’m sure there’ll be more lessons to be had. Hold onto your seats folks, cuz this ride will only get more ridiculous, I’m sure.
The original Homeboy With A Keyboard ™, dap wants to be an enigma, but he’s pretty transparent. A transplant from “Back East,” he found himself in Oakland writing about alla the fun things. He’s in love with the coco(a) (skinned women and butter,) among other things. @dapisdope