Skip to content

The Arc of Gentrification Bends Toward Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s beef with gentrification in Brooklyn comes full circle in his new “She’s Gotta Have It” Netflix series.
relates to The Arc of Gentrification Bends Toward Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s new Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It” is an update of his eponymous 1986 movie, a portrayal of a black “sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual” woman named Nola Darling who’s trying to find a safe space for her sexual and artistic freedoms in Brooklyn. In the movie original, her efforts are hampered by the three men she’s dating, and a woman she’s curious about dating. They each treat Darling like their own personal merchandise and insist on trying to fix what they see as sexually wayward ways.

In the Netflix special, Darling’s freedoms are further depressed by a new antagonist: gentrification. Darling’s white neighbors call the police and hold neighborhood meetings to report noise, loitering, funky smells, graffiti, and other perceived nuisances in their neighborhood. Every episode opens with a shot of a real estate sign that displays the obscenely high housing rental costs in Brooklyn. Gentrification was not an issue in the original SGHI, but it’s a major concern for Lee, and it’s worth exploring why—and the role Lee plays in making Brooklyn what it is today.