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Recommended: P-Valley Season 2 on Starz

As the strip club and its dancers endure the pandemic, the show's second season is as rich and provocative as ever.
  • Elarica Johnson and Nicco Annan in P-Valley. (Photo: Starz)
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    P-Valley Season 2 | Starz
    Hourlong drama (10 episodes in Season 2) | TV-MA

    What's P-Valley About?

    Based on a play by creator Katori Hall, P-Valley is set in and around the Pynk strip club in the fictional Mississippi town of Chucalissa. The show's second season sees the club struggling to stay open amidst small-town politics and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Who's involved?

    • Brandee Evans plays Mercedes Woodbine. She's a top dancer at the Pynk, but she's looking for more.
    • Shannon Thornton plays Keyshawn, whose success comes with some very big strings.
    • Elarica Johnson plays new Pynk owner Hailey Colton, who turns icier as business takes a dip and she finds herself increasingly isolated.
    • Nicco Annan is Uncle Clifford, all sharp tongue and big heart. The beloved non-binary proprietor of The Pynk is battling Hailey for the strip club's soul.
    • J. Alphonse Nicholson plays Lil Murda, whose burgeoning career takes him on tour with Keyshawn and away from Uncle Clifford.
    • Parker Sawyers plays Andre Watkins, who left both Chucalissa and Hailey behind but is drawn back in Season 2.
    • Series creator Katori Hall recently won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play The Hot Wing King.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    When P-Valley premiered on Starz in the summer of 2020, it was a breath of fresh air. Unapologetically celebratory of the dancers at the Pynk, the show reveled in a steamy Southern milieu, mixing sex with a particularly potent sensuality while telling stories about a cast of characters most shows would treat as outsiders.

    Now the series returns for a second season with a smart, nuanced take on the pandemic. The Pynk — purchased at auction in the Season 1 finale by dancer Hailey — has found a way to remain open during the lockdown, and we see the characters engage in realistic ways with what the restrictions mean both for work and for life. (Pity the poor dancer with allergies who sets off a health scare one night while working.)

    Set in an indeterminate period of 2020, by the fourth episode of the five made available for critics, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement takes center stage, as the characters react in idiosyncratic ways that reveal how they move through the world as Black people.

    But while the show is dealing with painful topics, its one-of-a-kind sensibility remains intact. Thornton is especially good this season, particularly in a fifth episode dedicated to Keyshawn’s past and the cycle of abuse she finds herself caught in.

    Everyone in the sprawling cast finds ways to stand out, while the sheer physicality of the dance routines — all of which emphasize the athleticism required for the pole — remain top-notch.

    P-Valley’s skill in Season 1 was in the creation of a seductive world in which fights, feuds, and egos battled for supremacy in a heightened reality that never strayed into absurdity. That energy is back, and the performers have a field day with some truly meaty dialogue, especially Annan, who finds even more colors for Uncle Clifford the second time around. Crucially, the writers have found ways to drill down on what initially worked so well while broadening the world and throwing new dreams and obstacles at its core group of characters, from romantic entanglements to a hotly contested mayoral race.

    Pairs well with

    • Claws (TNT), which also pairs hot-button issues with a singular aesthetic.
    • Atlanta (FX), another sui generis auteurist statement about being Black in America in the 21st century.
    • The Good Fight (Paramount+), also a heightened-reality drama.

  • P-Valley (Season 2)
    Premieres June 3 at 9 PM on Starz. New episodes Sundays through August 7.
    Created by: Katori Hall.
    Starring: Brandee Evans, Nicco Annan, Shannon Thornton, Elarica Johnson, J. Alphonse Nicholson, and Parker Sawyers.
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    TOPICS: P-Valley, Starz, Brandee Evans, Elarica Johnson, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Katori Hall, Nicco Annan, Parker Sawyers, Shannon Thornton