The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris, was a runaway hit in the book world, and choosing to pick it up for a series so soon after its release was a wise decision. We are aware of the basic premise of the book, and watching the trailer tells us that it is going to be just as captivating, if not more so. The title kind of reminds us of a movie called The Other Boleyn Girl. We know there is no connection between the two stories, and Zakiya Dalila Harris was also probably not inspired by that name, but the similarity makes us think of only one thing: that there was a black girl in a place, perhaps the only one, and then came another. As expected, the trailer for The Other Black Girl suggests the same.
Story and Plot
Nella is working at an office, and seeing how she is constantly asked for coffee by who we are presuming is her boss, we would say that it is not a part of her job but something she is being bullied into doing. Being the only black person in a completely white office must have its challenges. There isn’t a strong enough voice for representation, and if you do call out any micro or major aggressions, you are at risk of losing your job. After all, there is no way you can count on anyone else to understand your point of view. Nella is dealing with similar stuff at her office.
From what we have read about the story, it has been described as a stylish thriller with elements of Get Out in it. Before we get to that part, we would like to talk about why this show is said to have elements of The Devil Wears Prada. From what we saw in the trailer, the color scheme for the publishing office is mostly black, white, and gray. But in essence, maybe they are referring to the absolute madness of the world, implying that we get a look at what makes the people of the book world tick and how they judge the books, in a Miranda Priestly manner.
As for Get Out, we see in the trailer that Nella starts seeing a different woman in her reflection. These reflections are not in a mirror but on blurry surfaces like the laptop screen or the lift doors. This may be a deliberate choice to be able to play with the thriller genre without taking it outright into horror. But considering the politics of the show, which we will discuss in a minute, we must say that there may be an intersection between them and the Get Out elements.
Employment of people of color is not because employers are looking for diversity and merit but because they are trying to fill a quota. The fact that there were only one or two black women in the publishing house in the series is not a simple coincidence but a racist one. This implies that before Nella joined the team, there must have been another black woman like her. Possibly, like her, even she was edged out of the company, and now Nella is in her shoes with the arrival of Hazel. We have repeatedly heard it said that the publishing house had a dark past. It has to be a racist one.
A murder is the most likely theory, but perhaps it takes on an emotional angle? Maybe it will say that the work culture “murdered” her spirit and joy, and that is what is trapped in those computer screens and lift doors. Nella can see it right now because she is next, and this is what is happening to her. This brings us to the aforementioned politics and what we think is going to happen in the office with the arrival of Hazel. From the trailer for The Other Black Girl and the blurb on the book on which it is based, we know that Hazel becomes the office darling while Nella keeps getting sidelined as a result. Her position worsens after Hazel comes on board, and we are going to break down how that happens.
When & Where to Watch
The Other Black Girl will be released on 13th September 2023, on Hulu. There is a stellar team behind it and our expectations are sky high.
Navigating your way as a minority often involves masking parts of your identity—things that make you too “other” for them to accept or that trigger dormant stereotypes against you. To avoid this discrimination means walking a thin line of shaping your identity in line with the standards set by a select few. One of the more insidious parts of it is the discrimination that it spews from the minority towards themselves and others like them. This is what we call internalized racism, which translates into throwing others like them under the bus to get forward as an individual.
We see it happening with different groups, be it women being sexist towards other women or people of a particular country trying to sound as English as possible to set themselves apart from others in their community. Politics like this within the community is what gives rise to phenomena like ABCDs, or “not like other girls,” and we believe that in The Other Black Girl, Hazel does the same thing with Nella. She becomes that black girl who is white on the inside, unlike Nella, and this helps her get ahead in a way Nella wasn’t able to. That is when Nella found her world spiraling. However, we don’t want to think that Nella was just that naive. Could it not be a possibility that she did the same thing to her predecessor, meaning that the other black girl was Nella before it was Hazel? Or it could be that Hazel is there to get some revenge by dishing out what the woman before Nella had to endure. That is what makes the plot about her, and that is why the show hints that she is the catalyst for everything. There are a number of ways in which this series can go, and we have high hopes because of how successful the book was. We haven’t read a single negative review about it, and we hope the same for the series.