Queenie | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  


Hulu, June 7, 2024

Jun 05, 2024 Photography by Hulu Web Exclusive
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“Loud, brash, confrontational, bitchy,” is how the titular character in Queenie describes herself. That sounds intriguing, except that Dionne Brown, who plays Queenie, a Jamaican British 25-year-old woman working as a social media assistant at a London newspaper, delivers that description in “She’s Royal,” the sixth of eight episodes in the debut season of the series. By that point, Queenie has proved she is anything but those four descriptors.

Queenie is based on the 2019 British Book Award-winning book of the same name, which walked away with the high honor of Book of the Year. Its author, Candice Carty-Williams serves as writer and showrunner for the series, which should bode well for the adaptation, but unfortunately, it doesn’t.

We meet Queenie while she’s in the stirrups being told upsetting news by a team of medical professionals looking at her insides. Things don’t get better with numerous missteps from Queenie forgetting boyfriend Tom’s mother’s birthday present to turning up late at the party and then knocking the cake over. Tom—a White guy from a family rife with micro and macroaggression—suggests they take a break, which is a relief as their chemistry-free relationship is a bore to witness.

It’s difficult for Queenie to grasp the finality of this “break,” as much as she entirely misunderstands not getting opportunities at her work for no more complicated a reason as she just isn’t very good at her job. She gets worse as a fabulous gay friend puts her on a hookup app and Queenie gets real busy. She turns up drunk, exhausted and late daily, taking frequent vape breaks which means her “sucking on a USB stick” as she doesn’t have anything left in the pen to smoke.

Her sex positive attitude, if you want to call it that (her encounters quickly become depressing to behold) turns worrying when she’s with someone who is more abusive than the “commanding” she describes him as to her friends on their annoying group chat, which is titled “The Corgis.”

Her friends prove much more interesting than Queenie herself. There’s Cassandra (Elisha Applebaum), her insufferably smug and tightly wound judgmental friend who acts like she has everything figured out. Darcy (Tilly Keeper), her dull work friend who has been covering for Queenie on a regular basis, but who gives some great advice. Her best friend, Kyazike (Bellah) is actually the one who is “loud, brash, confrontational, bitchy,” and she does it so well, “living her best life” while Queenie keeps saying that’s what’s she’s doing, hoping saying it enough times will make it come true. Bellah kills it in this role, providing more than one rewindable moment every time she appears on screen, her comic timing and delivery absolutely impeccable. Perhaps the wisest and most realized person in Queenie’s life is her 15-year-old niece Diana (Cristale De’Abreu) who is more together, clear-eyed, unphased and proactive than all the adults that surround her. De’Abreu positively shines, her portrayal natural and so believable, it’s like she is being filmed with a hidden camera in her real life. Spending eight episodes watching Kyazike and Diana would be awesome, but without limp Queenie to contrast against them, there would be no conflict over which to triumph.

It’s the adults in Queenie’s life that are partially the source of her downfalls and her uplifts. Her single mother who made her fair share of bad decisions abandoned Queenie when she was a child. Her aunt and grandparents provide the support she was missing and it’s to them that she repeatedly returns, even when she really doesn’t want to.

Billed as the “Black Bridget Jones’ Diary” (is that because Queenie is in a Playboy bunny costume?) Queenie doesn’t provide much to latch on to. She has lots of “issues” to build around: anxiety and panic attacks, trauma and general dissatisfaction with her life. Brown does a decent job with what she’s given. But when her character’s name is the title, it’s around Queenie that everything revolves and with a weak central figure, that’s too much time is wasted on her. (/www.hulu.com/series/queenie)

Author rating: 5/10

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