The critically acclaimed drama series, "P-Valley" created by Katori Hall instantly hooks you after watching the first episode. From the acrobatic strippers throwing it in a circle on the pole to Uncle Clifford's vibrant wigs and claw-like nails, the show is definitely binge worthy. After only two-weeks of the show's premiere on Starz, the show was renewed for a second season.
Starz green-lighted P-Valley as an adaptation of Hall's play "Pussy Valley", which follows several people who work at a strip club in the Mississippi Delta. As the show's story unfolds we are introduced to Lil Murda, an up and coming rapper looking for his big break. Played by J. Alphonse Nicholson, Lil Murda sports gold grills, tattoos and a flashy southern swag accompanied with a hyper-masculine yet subtly sensitive demeanor.
When Lil Murda meets the strip club's non-binary owner Uncle Clifford, played by Nicco Annan, viewers instantly assume a negative tension between them, especially given the present-day violence against trans and non-binary women. But those feelings are quickly shoved to the side once Lil Murda's attraction to Uncle Clifford is recognized by the licking of his lips and intense gaze, instantly deeming him as 'trade', a term that us gayes use to categorize masculine men who can't be easily recognized as gay.
Spoiler Alert! Uncle Clifford eventually ends up giving Lil Murda a blowjob immediately upon meeting. Their relationship after slowly develops, later leading to them having steamy sex despite Uncle Clifford's initial intent to end their relationship due to insecurities.
In an interview with TV Guide, Nicholson, who identifies as heterosexual, is asked about his scenes with Uncle Clifford and if he considers Lil Murda to be gay.
"We've had conversations about it," Nicholson tells TV Guide via phone. "He's still trying to figure it out. He's a mix of emotions. He's a complex and layered guy, and he's really trying to find himself and who he is. I want people to see him as that."
Nicholson shares with TV Guide that his preparation for the part meant looking back on his own upbringing in an all-Black community in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the entrenched, normalized homophobia that led people like Lil' Murda to live in silence, shame, and fear.
He reveals that initially he was nervous about taking on the role, but later talked it through with his fiancée and then recognized an opportunity.
"Taking the part I was like, 'How can we mend these relationships? How can I understand Black gay men, all gay people, and be an ally? These conversations need to happen more in the Black community, and we can get to a place where we accept someone for who they are, simply because of who they are. I'm glad it's sparking conversation."
And oh-boy has it sparked a conversation. Though many heterosexual viewers may have a hard time understanding the on-screen couple's relationship, on top of Uncle Clifford's non-binary identity and use of female pronouns, Nicholson says he's "been encouraged and pleased with most of the reaction he's seen online so far" and he's "less concerned with what negative comments people have made".
"Love is love," Nicholson said. "Any type of intimate feelings between two people can be real. Sometimes people just want to have a good time. It's more common than we think."
P-Valley is breaking the status quo with its compelling story line and unapologetic display of love, no matter of gender labels or stereotypes. The show has become a mainstream success and is raunchily refreshing to see. Check out P-Valley on Starz!
Check out a fan-made recap of Lil Murda and Uncle Clifford's relationship below: