Sanaa Lathan in “Nappily Ever After”

Why “Nappily Ever After” Is Not The Happily Ever After For Black Women

Ezinne Ukoha


Spoiler alert

I really wanted to love Nappily Ever After, despite my initial misgivings after the trailer dropped, and I seemed to be distracted by the fact that Sanaa Lathan’s hair texture probably wouldn’t be an issue for Black women who share my unforgivably “nappier” texture.

But weeks later, after actually watching the Netflix entry, it became clear that the issue of relatable hair textures doesn’t really factor into this prized narrative that has been beaten to death and brought back to life, more times than we dare to count.

The most disappointing aspect of Nappily Ever After, is embedded in it’s lackluster shell and generic delivery, and how it fails to summon the depth that’s required to give the main character the validity she deserves — in order to make her journey memorably profound.

The romantic comedy is based on the book by Trisha R. Thomas, and it focuses on Violet Jones, a marketing executive, who is driven by her unrelenting need for perfection, and how this never-ending hunger dominates both her professional and personal pursuits.

When we meet Violet, she’s cozied up in bed with her perfectly handsome boyfriend, Clint (Ricky Whittle), who as we later find out when he speaks, possesses the perfect British accent.

We already know from the start of the film, that like most Black women, Violet’s unhealthy relationship with her hair, took root when she was an impressionable kid — experiencing the embarrassing rites of passage that included communal swimming pools, that exposed her to teasing sessions when her textured tresses got wet.

This introduction is supposed to prepare us for the unexpected visitor that arrives at Violet’s house in the early morning, and forces her out of the arms of her sleeping Adonis.

Veteran actress Lynn Whitfield plays Violet’s hard-to-appease mother, who evidently enabled her daughter’s penchant for early morning house calls that involve polishing off already “perfect” hair, so it’s sleeker and straighter. This visit is notable because there’s a marriage proposal in the air, and in order to guarantee the reality of a diamond ring, Violet has to greet her future fiancee with the perfect…