Queen Sugar

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Queen Sugar
Genre Drama
Created by Ava DuVernay
Based on Queen Sugar
by Natalie Baszile
Starring
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 36 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Warner Horizon Television
Harpo Films
Forward Movement
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network Oprah Winfrey Network
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release September 6, 2016 – present
External links
Website

Queen Sugar is an American drama television series created and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, with Oprah Winfrey serving as an executive producer. DuVernay also directs many episodes. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Natalie Baszile.[1] The series airs on Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and premiered on September 6, 2016.[1][2][3]

The series follows the life of three siblings: two sisters, Nova Bordelon (played by Rutina Wesley), a formidable journalist and activist from New Orleans, and Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), a modern woman, who, with her teenaged son Micah, leaves her upscale home in Los Angeles and moves to the heart of Louisiana to claim an inheritance from her recently departed father – an 800-acre sugarcane farm; and their brother Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), a single father struggling with unemployment and an absentee, recovering drug-addict mother of his child.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Rutina Wesley as Nova Bordelon, the eldest Bordelon child, a journalist, activist and herbal healer
  • Dawn-Lyen Gardner as Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon West, the middle Bordelon child - half sibling to Nova and Ralph Angel, a sports manager, mother of Micah and ex-wife of Davis
  • Kofi Siriboe as Ralph Angel Bordelon, the youngest Bordelon child, the face-forward brother of Bordelon sisters looking to better himself after recently being released from prison
  • Tina Lifford as Violet Bordelon, Ernest's younger sister, mother figure to the Bordelon children and Hollywood's girlfriend
  • Omar Dorsey as Hollingsworth "Hollywood" Desonier, Violet's much younger oil rig worker boyfriend and supporter of the Bordelon family
  • Dondre Whitfield as Remy Newell, an irrigation specialist who was a friend and confidante to Ernest who soon becomes a helping hand to Ernest's children and soon becomes Charley's love interest
  • Bianca Lawson as Darla, a recovering drug addict who is Ralph Angel's ex-girlfriend and Blue's mother seeking to reconnect with them both
  • Timon Kyle Durrett as Davis West, Charley's charismatic star basketball player ex-husband, client and Micah's father who is currently involved in a sex scandal as series unfolds
  • Greg Vaughan as Calvin, a married police officer and Nova's longtime secret lover
  • Nicholas L. Ashe as Micah West, Charley's and Davis's teenage son
  • Ethan Hutchison as Blue Bordelon, Ralph Angel's and Darla's 6-year-old son
  • Marycarmen Lopez as Reyna Velez, Blue's elementary school teacher

Recurring[edit]

  • Glynn Turman as Ernest Bordelon, the patriarch of the Bordelon family and older brother of Violet (season 1)
  • Henry G. Sanders as Prosper Denton, a lifelong friend to Ernest and fellow farmer
  • True O'Brien as Stella, Micah's girlfriend who he later breaks up with having finding out she had sex with several other guys (season 1)[4]
  • Reagan Gomez-Preston as Chantal Williams, Nova's friend
  • Issac White as Devonte "Too Sweet" Bonclair, a teen who after being falsely imprisoned becomes the main focus of Nova's current crusade on how the parish DA has been railroading African-Americans (season 1)
  • Tanyell Waivers as Keke Raymond, a teenage friend of the family who Micah sets his sights on after meeting her at a family cook-out[5]
  • Deja Dee as Sierra, Nova's college roommate
  • Sharon Lawrence as Lorna Prescott, Charley's mother
  • Michael Michele as Darlene, Darla's mother
  • Roger Guenveur Smith as Quincy, Darla's father
  • Alimi Ballard as Dr. Robert Dubois, an activist, who becomes Nova's love interest briefly in the second season
  • Lea Coco as Jacob Boudreaux, a member of the Landry family who takes a special interest in Charley
  • David Jensen as Samuel Landry, the owner of the most popular mill, the Landry mills, in the county who Charley and Ralph-Angel go up against
  • Vivien Ngô as Trinh Phan, a young woman who returns to help her parents with their seafood plant who becomes Ralph Angel's love interest. (season 2) [6][7]
  • Tony Aidan Vo as Khanh Phan, the younger brother to Trinh and son of Mrs. Phan. (season 2) [6]
  • Elyse Dinh McCrillis as Mrs. Phan, a Vietnamese American refugee and the mother to Khanh and Trinh; also Ralph Angel's boss at the seafood plant. (season 2) [6]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On February 2, 2015, it was announced that Oprah Winfrey Network had ordered a straight-to-series TV drama based on Queen Sugar, the novel by Natalie Baszile.[1][2][8][9] Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, who worked on the 2014 film Selma, co-created the series, while DuVernay was set to write and direct the initial episodes. The first season began filming in February 2016[10] and contained 13 episodes. DuVernay announced on January 27, 2016 that the series would feature an all-women directorial team.[11] On February 15, 2016, Neema Barnette joined the series as director and producer.[12] Award-winning director Tina Mabry is a producer and will also direct two episodes, and Anthony Sparks,[13] an award-winning TV writer and professor, is a co-executive producer for the series.[14] It was later announced that singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello would provide the score for the series.[15]

Casting[edit]

On January 13, 2016, it was announced that Rutina Wesley would play the role of Nova Bordelon.[16][17][18] Further casting was announced January 27, 2016. Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Kofi Siriboe, and Omar Dorsey, who co-starred in Selma, were all announced in leading roles.[19][20] On February 1, 2016, it was announced that Emmy Award-winner Glynn Turman will guest-star as Ernest Bordelon, the patriarch of the family who died in the first episode.[21] On February 16, 2016, it was announced that Tina Lifford, Dondre Whitfield, Timon Kyle Durrett and Nicholas L. Ashe were cast as series regulars.[22] On February 23, 2016, Bianca Lawson and Greg Vaughan joined the cast as regulars, while Henry G. Sanders joined in a recurring role. Meanwhile, Oprah Winfrey Network said that Oprah Winfrey, who earlier was announced as a recurring character, would not have an onscreen role.[23] On March 11, 2016, it was announced that Marycarmen Lopez also was cast as regular.[24]

Seasons[edit]

On August 1, 2016, the series was renewed for a second season ahead of its television premiere which aired in a two-night premiere on June 20 and June 21, 2017.[25][26] The second season premiered on OWN in a two episode special on June 20 and 21, 2017. The show was renewed for a third season on July 26, 2017.[27] The third season premiered in a two-night special on May 29 and May 30, 2018.

Episodes[edit]

Series overview[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
113September 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)November 30, 2016 (2016-11-30)
216June 20, 2017 (2017-06-20)November 15, 2017 (2017-11-15)
3TBAMay 29, 2018 (2018-05-29)TBA

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
11"First Things First"Ava DuVernayAva DuVernaySeptember 6, 2016 (2016-09-06)2.69[28]
The estranged Bordelon siblings Nova (Rutina Wesley), Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner), and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe) must come together to save their family's ailing sugarcane farm in Louisiana. Charley leaves her upscale L.A. lifestyle to return to her family home in Louisiana after her dad suffers a stroke and she receives unwelcome news about her husband.
22"Evergreen"Ava DuVernayTina MabrySeptember 7, 2016 (2016-09-07)2.14[29]
The siblings plan the funeral, but Charley and Nova disagree about how best to honor their father; and Ralph Angel and Aunt Violet are at odds over whether it's okay for his young son to attend the funeral service. In other events, Charley faces the fallout from the news about her husband and also learns there are things they don't know about their father's farm.
33"Thy Will Be Done"Neema BarnetteJason WilbornSeptember 14, 2016 (2016-09-14)2.00[30]
Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel learn the contents of their father's will and contemplate running the farm together; someone attempts to repossess one of the father's possessions; and the family considers a low offer for the land from a local buyer.
44"The Darker Sooner"So Yong KimKay OyegunSeptember 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)1.52[31]
The Bordelon siblings return to their everyday lives: Ralph Angel struggles to run the family farm; Charley resumes managing her husband's basketball career; and Nova seeks justice for a friend's son who she believes was wrongfully imprisoned.
55"By Any Chance"Victoria MahoneyAnthony SparksSeptember 28, 2016 (2016-09-28)1.59[32]
Nova's relationship suffers because of her pursuit of justice; Charley confronts her husband's accuser; Ralph Angel faces a moral quandary; and Hollywood resumes contact with someone from his past.
66"As Promised"Tanya HamiltonMelissa CarterOctober 5, 2016 (2016-10-05)1.44[33]
Nova and Charley clash over Nova's comments regarding Charley's marriage; Ralph Angel wants out of an illegal arrangement; and Charley discovers what Davis did on the night in question.
77"In No Uncertain Terms"Neema BarnetteDenise HarkavyOctober 12, 2016 (2016-10-12)1.68[34]
Charley faces up to the state of her marriage; Ralph Angel wants to farm full time; and Aunt Violet uncovers information about Hollywood that jeopardizes their relationship.
88"Where With All"Kat CandlerTina MabryOctober 26, 2016 (2016-10-26)1.71[35]
The family prepares for a hurricane; Remy questions Charley's treatment of her staff; Aunt Violet worries about Nova's safety; and Ralph Angel quarrels with Darla.
99"Next to Nothing"Kat CandlerJason WilbornNovember 2, 2016 (2016-11-02)1.69[36]
The siblings find two dead bodies on the property while repairing damage caused by the storm. In other events, Ralph Angel continues to push for custody of Blue.
1010"So Far"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldAnthony SparksNovember 9, 2016 (2016-11-09)1.50[37]
Charlie searches for a new mill; and realizes that there's more to the story of the land than originally thought. In other events, Hollywood again tries to mend his relationship with Aunt Violet.
1111"All Good"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldKay OyegunNovember 16, 2016 (2016-11-16)1.64[38]
The siblings search for a new mill; Charley is prepared to put her past with Davis behind her; Ralph Angel and Darla help Blue with issues at school; and Aunt Violet makes changes to the diner.
1212"Far Too Long"Tina MabryMelissa Carter & Ali Gordon-GoldsteinNovember 23, 2016 (2016-11-23)1.50[39]
Charley makes a cunning decision as a result of the siblings' quest for a new mill; Ralph Angel locks heads with Charley; Hollywood and Aunt Violet's relationship hits a roadblock; and Nova's ex, Calvin, returns.
1313"Give Us This Day"Tina MabryAva DuVernayNovember 30, 2016 (2016-11-30)1.91[40]
In the Season 1 finale, Charley goes all out to secure an investor; Nova and Calvin reunite, but not everyone is pleased; Davis attempts to repair his relationship with Micah; Aunt Violet tries to make amends with Hollywood; and Ralph Angel makes a shocking discovery.

Season 2 (2017)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
141"After the Winter"Kat CandlerMonica MacerJune 20, 2017 (2017-06-20)2.31[41]
Charley and Davis remain entangled; Ralph Angel tries to find his footing on the family farm; Aunt Violet confronts her feelings for Hollywood; and Micah has a dangerous encounter with a police officer. In other events, Nova deals with the loss of her relationship with Calvin and later holds a community fundraiser.
152"To Usward"Cheryl DunyeJason WilbornJune 21, 2017 (2017-06-21)1.69[42]
Ralph Angel has an idea for the farm; Charley is blindsided during her final divorce mediation with Davis; Nova holds a community fundraiser; and Aunt Violet learns that Hollywood might have been involved in a life-threatening accident.
163"What Do I Care For Morning"Aurora GuerreroAnthony SparksJune 28, 2017 (2017-06-28)1.55[43]
Micah finds solace at Nova's place; Charley confronts Davis about their custody arrangement; Aunt Violet's time with Hollywood might be short-lived; Nova meets someone at a symposium; and Ralph Angel confronts Jacob Boudreaux about spying on his property.
174"My Soul's High Song"Maryam KeshavarzAva DuVernayJuly 5, 2017 (2017-07-05)1.46[44]
Charley searches for a more permanent home for Micah; a whitefly infestation threatens the farm; Nova adjusts to a new editor who wants her to change her approach; and Darla makes a decision that has serious consequences.
185"Caroling Dusk"Amanda MarsalisDavita ScarlettJuly 12, 2017 (2017-07-12)1.52[45]
Charley's therapist appointment brings to light childhood issues; Nova reunites with Dr. Robert Dubois; Davis meets an intriguing singer; Ralph Angel meets an old friend during a high-pressured situation; and Darla finds an unexpected job.
196"Line of Our Elders"DeMane DavisMimi Won TechentinJuly 19, 2017 (2017-07-19)1.56[46]
Charley's opening celebration of the Queen Sugar Mill suffers a setback; Nova learns something surprising about her late father; and Ralph Angel has a run-in with someone he previously robbed and later makes a huge confession to his sisters.
207"I Know My Soul"Kat CandlerMaria Elena RodriguezJuly 26, 2017 (2017-07-26)1.57[47]
Ralph Angel's confession continues to cause unrest and his appeal to Darla for emotional support conflicts with Charley's wishes. Plus, Nova learns something surprising about Violet.
218"Freedom's Plow"Amanda MarsalisAnthony SparksAugust 2, 2017 (2017-08-02)1.59[48]
In the mid-season finale, Darla celebrates her two-year sober anniversary; Violet has a health issue; Nova and Dr. Robert Dubois' reunion hits a roadblock; Micah finally comes to terms with his emotions; Charley confesses her feelings for Remy; and Ralph Angel makes a life-changing confession to Darla.
229"Yet Do I Marvel"Julie DashJason WilbornOctober 3, 2017 (2017-10-03)1.74[49]
In the mid-season premiere, Darla reaches out to her family to share her engagement news; Violet's condition worsens; Nova's Zika story causes concern in the community; Micah tells his family about the police incident; and Charley receives an unexpected visit from her mother, and the two have an honest conversation about Charley's upbringing.
2310"Drums at Dusk"Julie DashValerie ChuOctober 4, 2017 (2017-10-04)1.20[50]
An unexpected encounter creates issues between Ralph Angel and Darla. Meanwhile, the presence of Charley's mother, Lorna gives rise to old tensions in the family; and Violet finally sees a doctor about her recurring symptoms.
2411"Fruit of the Flower"Cheryl DunyeDana GreenblattOctober 11, 2017 (2017-10-11)1.31[51]
Nova and Robert's relationship begins to shift; Ralph Angel feels humiliated by Remy; Hollywood and Violet clash over Hollywood's new friend; and Lorna finally reveals the true history of her relationship with Nova and Ralph Angel's father.
2512"Live in the All Along"Garrett BradleyMimi Won TechentinOctober 18, 2017 (2017-10-18)1.14[52]
Nova and Robert's relationship hits a major setback; Darla and Ralph Angel plan their upcoming wedding; Davis offers Charley help with her harvest festival and they both realize they have moved on in new relationships; Davis attempts to make amends.
2613"Heritage"Liesl TommyMonica Macer & Davita ScarlettOctober 25, 2017 (2017-10-25)1.34[53]
Charley and Remy discuss their future; Violet receives a life changing diagnosis; Nova and Calvin come face-to-face for the first time in months; Darla reunites with her parents, and reveals a devastating secret to Ralph Angel.
2714"On These I Stand"Christina VorosJason Wilborn & Anthony SparksNovember 1, 2017 (2017-11-01)1.28[54]
Ralph Angel is left devastated by Darla's news; Charley's business is threatened; Micah has an issue with his school; Nova receives a new opportunity; and Violet reveals her diagnosis to Hollywood.
2815"Copper Sun"DeMane DavisMonica Macer & Dana GreenblattNovember 8, 2017 (2017-11-08)1.22[55]
Charley fires Darla after learning that she's lied to her family; Micah gets suspended from school; Hollywood promises to fulfill Violet's wish list; and Jacob Boudreaux suggests he and Charley form a partnership.
2916"Dream Variations"Kat CandlerAva DuVernayNovember 15, 2017 (2017-11-15)1.33[56]

In the Season 2 finale, Charley's shocking plan to save her business puts her relationship with Remy in jeopardy; Hollywood proposes to Violet; Nova and Remy share an unexpected moment; and Ralph Angel decides if he can forgive Darla.

Note: This episode is 90 minutes.

Season 3 (2018)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
301"A Rock, A River, A Tree"DeMane DavisKat CandlerMay 29, 2018 (2018-05-29)1.48[57]
312"Of Their Sojourn Here"Patricia CardosoAnthony SparksMay 30, 2018 (2018-05-30)1.04[58]
323"Your Distant Destiny"Lauren WolksteinErika L. JohnsonJune 6, 2018 (2018-06-06)0.92[59]
334"No Haven In My Shadow"Maria GovanMike FlynnJune 13, 2018 (2018-06-13)1.13[60]
345"A Little Lower Than Angels"Shaz BennettChloé HungJune 20, 2018 (2018-06-20)1.14[61]
356"Delicate and Strangely Made"Christina ChoeChanning Godfrey PeoplesJune 27, 2018 (2018-06-27)1.17[62]
367"Study War No More"DeMane DavisAnthony SparksJuly 11, 2018 (2018-07-11)1.20[63]
378"Come, Clad in Peace"[64]TBATBAJuly 18, 2018 (2018-07-18)TBD
389"The Tree and Stone Were One"[64]TBATBAJuly 25, 2018 (2018-07-25)TBD

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 93% approval rating for the first season, with an average rating of 7.4/10 based on 41 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "With an authenticity of culture and place and strong performances throughout, Queen Sugar rises above melodrama in this alluring, unhurried and powerful portrait of a fractious black American family."[65] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 75 out of 100 based on 25 critics for the season, indicating what the website considers to be "generally favorable reviews".[66] A 100% approval rating for the second season was reported by Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 8.03/10 based on 7 reviews.[67]

Novel[edit]

UCLA graduate Natalie Baszile started writing Queen Sugar, the novel, in the early 1990s, but the text was only completed ten years later. She first presented the manuscript to publishers in 2009 but without any success. After revising the book for another two years, she resubmitted the text, with one agent agreeing to represent her.

Baszile took part in a women writer's retreat in Hedgebrook. A friend of hers who was also at the retreat, the novelist Sarah Manyika, suggested that she read part of Queen Sugar to fellow residents. Leigh Haber, O, The Oprah Magazine's book editor was attending and loved the novel and passed it to people at Oprah's Harpo Productions. A few months after that, Harpo called to say they wanted to option the book for a project.[68]

The book was published by Penguin in 2014 as Baszile's debut novel and, a few months later, OWN negotiated the deal to turn the book into a television series.

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result
2017
48th NAACP Image Awards[69] Outstanding Drama Series Queen Sugar Won
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Kofi Siriboe Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Rutina Wesley Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series Ava DuVernay (for "First Things First") Won
Anthony Sparks (for "By Any Chance") Nominated
2017 Hollywood Music in Media Awards[70] Original Score – TV Show/Limited Series Meshell Ndegeocello Nominated
2018
49th NAACP Image Awards[71] Outstanding Drama Series Queen Sugar Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Kofi Siriboe Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Rutina Wesley Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Dondre Whitfield Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Tina Lifford Nominated

References[edit]

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External links[edit]