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"Black Cake" got me feelin' like Whoa!

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Yes, I quoted Black Rob.


"Like Whoa" is the most realist, 'illist, and strongest way I can describe my feelings about the Hulu series based on the New York Times bestselling novel of the same name. Charmaine Wilkerson's novel is beautifully brought to life. The Bennett family saga is told through the use of melodic, yet plainspoken, prose. The family matriarch, Eleanor Bennett, dies and bequeaths her adult children an interesting inheritance-recordings. Their mother's revelations slowly bring Benny and Byron Bennett closer together. Eleanor flees her small island home under suspicion of murder. Her new life in 1960s London is plagued by anxiety as she fears she will be found out at every turn. Accordingly, she lies about her background, avoids crowds, and tries not to draw attention. A first-class swimmer with no discernable skills, Eleanor finds employment as a domestic and later a secretary. Through sheer luck, she crosses paths with her first love. With a stolen identity, they journey to America for a fresh start.


Benny and Byron reflect on their mother's experiences before she immigrated to the United States. Soon, their own secrets come to light. Without giving away too much, Black Cake leaves viewers on the edge of their seats, wanting more at the conclusion of each episode.


I am also drawn in by the Caribbean-American story. I don't think audiences see it enough. We encounter the southern Black family, the urban Black family, and even the bougie Martha's Vineyard Black family. Movies like Boxing Day and television series like Hulu's Black Cake celebrate, language, food, dress, and culture that are often ignored. Yes, I am biased. My father's family hails from the Bahamas.


Typically, I don't watch series based on books, especially ones I have not read. I thought Hulu had adapted Wilkerson's novel into a movie. Imagine my disappointment when I realized I would have to wait for weekly installments. Eventually, I gave in; I was not feeling well and stuck in the house. I had nothing but time on my hands and decided to watch just a few minutes. I give movies and new television shows approximately five minutes to grab my attention. The series' creators perfectly cast all the characters. However, I was locked in the moment I saw Jade Eshete who plays Eleanor's mother. The American actress is stunning. Her dark brown skin paired with a bright yellow bathing suit is "like whoa!" It's everything.


This image celebrates blackness. I don't mind standing on a soapbox or sitting high on a horse. A lot of issues are tackled in Black Cake but there is no way to portray a Black American family without touching on colorism. Wilkerson expertly weaves in this touchy topic. Actresses like Tessa Thompson, Zendaya, and Zoe Kravitz are often held up as examples of Black beauty. Beyonce too. These women with their fairer complexions, long straight hair, or voluptuous bodies resemble a small portion of Black American women. I am happy to see more representation. I applauded when I saw Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen in Queen & Slim on the big screen. I am equally as happy to see Jade Eshete as Mathilda and Adrienne Warren play her granddaughter Benny.


I've said it before and will continue saying it, screaming it from the rooftops, Representation Matters!


I can't wait for the final three episodes and hope the series is picked up for a second season.

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