Nappily Ever After: A Pseudo-Review

Black women around the globe have been waiting for the Netflix premiere of Nappily Ever After, a film based on the book of the same name by Trisha R. Thomas. (Sidenote: I was one of the few folks who hadn’t read the book before I heard it was being made into a movie. So me being me - a serious nerd - I decided to read the book before watching the movie. It was cool. I didn’t love it but if I was pulling up on a pool and it was in my bag, I’d read it again. But long ago I realized that books and movies based on books are more like cousins than identical twins. So back to the movie…)

So my love and I decided to watch the movie on lazy Sunday morning. (Note: there are spoilers coming. You’ve been warned.) The minute Clint (played by Ricky Whittle) told Violet (brought to life by the amazing Sanaa Lathan) why he didn’t propose - which was basically because he doesn’t truly know who she is - the hubs said “well, that’s her fault.” Errr, excuse me? What? He went on to say that she decided to only show him a piece of herself and that was her choice. While I agree, I also added that Clint was also to blame. It’s true that Violet only showed Clint her PR agent not her true self but while Clint said he wanted all of her, he never asked for all of her. Why should he? He was well loved, fed, and f*&^ed by the PR agent. Why risk all of that for someone that he doesn’t know - her true self? And why should she reveal more? She thought that this persona was what he wanted and it appeared that he loved it. He never said that he didn’t.

As the movie progresses, Violet sets off to find her voice. And she does - or thinks she does - in a new relationship. That is until Clint returns… Let’s just fast forward to the end of the movie… the engagement party. Clint asks for the return of the PR agent and Sanaa acquiesces. She is at the party and feels suffocated. She can’t move. She knows that if she gets up and goes downstairs to the party she will be consenting to the silencing of her own voice. When she decides to jump into the pool and baptize herself, I cheered. When I noticed Clint sitting on the sidelines, Chris and I immediately realized that the engagement was over. It seemed that Clint wanted spontaneity only during times he deems acceptable. Um, that’s not real spontaneity. He wants the comfort of the PR agent the rest of the time. That doesn’t work. The real you is messy and multi-faceted and layered. A marriage is not just a joining of the best of the two of you. A marriage is the merger of all of you - the good, the bad & the ugly - together. If he isn’t hopping into the water with you or at least applauding your breaststroke, then that marriage isn’t going to work.

See, Violet wanted the marriage that she had pictured in her head. The rom-com version that she thought she wanted. The reality is she had outgrown that version. So many women - myself included - get married thinking of Cliff and Claire. We try to stuff ourselves into boxes that we construct from Say Yes to the Dress scenes and Bride magazine pages. And then we wonder why we can’t breathe. Duh! You put yourself in the cage. What if we did the work to tear down the box and recognize it for the jail that it is before we climbed in? That’s not saying “f-marriage” that is saying “f the fallacy of marriage.” Get married - be wonderfully married - with your whole self. That is the only way you can both thrive. So, Nappily is a great story of how to do the work before you say “I do.”

Neysa Taylor