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Queenie (TV Review)

3 min read
The cast of Queenie

Let’s face it, breakups are hard. Really hard. Perhaps even worse if your ex tells you “you’re too much” and then scarpers off. In the eponymous TV adaptation of Candice Carty-Williams’s Queenie, this is the catalyst for the protagonist’s ill-advised decision making. There are moments that will make you roll your eyes into oblivion, and moments that will pull at your heart strings. Splitting opinions since the book was released in 2019, the TV adaptation helps to add some context as to why this chaotic character is so self destructive and helps to make Queenie’s flaws more relatable. 

The series follows 25-year-old British-Jamaican woman, Queenie Jenkins (Dionne Brown) after the breakdown of her relationship. We see how this impacts every facet of her life, including her performance at work, the relationships she has with her friends, and the diabolical dating choices she makes. However, as the series unfolds it becomes apparent that the breakup with her long term partner, Tom (Jon Pointing) is just the tip of the iceberg. Tom expresses to Queenie that she doesn’t open up and through flashbacks over the eight episode series, we realise the deterioration of the relationship is not the cause of her current trauma, but a symptom of unhealed childhood wounds. 

With this in mind, it’s uncomfortable at times to watch Queenie date men who sexualise and fetishise her. We’ve all heard that famous saying, “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” but the dating decisions she makes are woeful and appear to be fuelled by an impending identity crisis. The majority of the men she interacts with view her as disposable and will make you want to shout at your screen.

But despite this, it’s somewhat weirdly refreshing to see a black woman character at the forefront with traits that are, yes, very chaotic, but human. Queenie has received some unfavourable reviews and has been accused of being clunky. The character has even been referred to as the “Black Bridget Jones,” yet Queenie feels different to that. The “clunkiness” adds to her messy character journey and rather than a black comparison to the 2001 character, Queenie is a singular character in her own right. 

Queenie’s chemistry with her on screen bestie Kyazike (Bellah) adds lightness and warmth to the adaptation. We meet the exuberant Kyazike in episode one and the beautiful parts of female friendship are exemplified through intimate camera work, and small gestures that make you feel like you as a viewer are spilling the tea with your girls. The special bond between a grandparent and grandchild is also highlighted by Queenie and her grandfather Wilfred (Joseph Marcell) Wilfred is protective of Queenie who is struggling with her mental health and is a bridge between Queenie and his wife, Veronica (Llewella Gideon) who thinks her granddaughter should not go to therapy to discuss her feelings. 

The series may not strike a chord with everyone, but the depiction of tackling life in your twenties and confronting your trauma with a character from an ethnic minority background feels major.

Queenie is available to stream on Channel 4.