In the past year, I have become an avid watcher of the STARZ series Power. I am not the quick on the draw viewer, the kind that sits around on Saturday night watching so they can immediately post unsolicited spoilers and piss off all their Facebook friends. I am the broke graduate student, siphoning cable from a father of a friend who likely has no idea I have access to his Xfinity account, type of viewer. I tend to roll over on Sunday mornings, login to Mr. Johnson’s online account and catch up with what’s happened in the world of Power. I also was not an early fan of the show. It wasn’t until three seasons had gone by that I took a moment to check out what the hype was all about. This delay in viewing has more to do with the time at which I gained access to Mr. Johnson’s Xfinity than anything else.
I didn’t expect to be drawn into the show so quickly but found the show to be captivating. I developed a slight disdain for Ghost somewhere near the end of season one and the mid-point of season 2, which actually drove me to continue watching simply because I wanted to see what happened to him. I don’t actually know when this potentially irrational hate for James St. Patrick developed because I binge watched the show over the course of a weekend and lost track of which events occurred at what point in the series and the timeline of my disdain is actually irrelevant. The point is, I was hooked. I went into a full on Power rabbit hole, watching several episodes twice, some even three times. I liked it so much that I went as far as purchasing the first season on iTunes and have played old episodes during various Wi-Fi inaccessible moments in my life.These have included road trips, visits to my grandma’s house, and even while sitting on the porch drinking rum and playing with my Air BnB host’s dog, Chulie, on a spring break trip to Cuba.
The image of this well to do Black family living in the laps of luxury was appealing, even if they had made their way up the socioeconomic ladder through less than savory means. The show was well written, the plot was well developed, and the characters were nuanced and interesting. After finding a show I could really get into, I waited in anticipation for season 4 to drop. I was so gassed that I woke up and made breakfast for my Sunday morning viewing. There may or may not have been a $6 bottle of André champagne used to make mimosas in celebration of the return of the show.
Judge your mama. I was excited.
The season started off and I was as engaged as I had been for the previous three but as the fourth installment of the show has progressed, the realization that the writers of Power have lost all chill has slowly began to turn me away. By the loss of chill, I’m specifically referencing the introduction of the gratuitous violence, which seems to now serve as high points in the show. From Tommy running over the Latin corner boy to the unnecessarily gruesome death of Charlie Murphy whose mutilated body is left sprawled under the image of a lynched black man swinging from exercise equipment, the show has taken a slight turn which is kinda gross and definitely unnecessarily gory and I don’t think I’m with it. I get it, on a show like Power; violence is necessary at some points. It is a show detailing the affairs of people involved in an illicit drug trade and the obstacles tied to being involved in the drug world, which at times means a character or two has to get murked. I get that. I’m cool with that.
When they shot Milan, I got it.
When Tommy choked Holly out, I understood how this pushed the story line along.
Full disclosure, I hated Holly more than I dislike Ghost so the scene where she got capped was met with low-level cheering. I’m not saying that I am or am not trash for cheering during the scene or that my excitement wasn’t a bit problematic, just letting you know how it went down in apartment 933. But the gruesomeness of this season has left me feeling some kinda way, mostly squeamish. Instead of complementing the narrative, violence has become a central element driving the plot. When Julio was having his tattoo peeled off by the ex-gang affiliate, I had to push my computer screen away and even still the desperate screams were haunting. I have felt more sad than entertained during multiple points in the season.
I’ve discussed my angst with several friends, some of whom agree the writers of Power have lost their chill. Others have told me the writers are just trying to show the people “that real street sh*t” and I’m tripping. This could very well be true. Maybe I am in the minority and “the people” are living for this wanton overly graphic violence. Perhaps I am becoming too sensitive in my old age and “real street sh*t” as depicted by TV characters has lost some of its dewy glow. There is also the possibility that at some point I lost my status as one of “the people”. Or maybe the writers of Power are doing the most and should go to the nearest corner store and purchase a family sized bag of chill to share amongst themselves because their creative musings are currently stressing me out.