Spike Lee Is Making His Groundbreaking Film “She’s Gotta Have It” Into A TV Series

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Just weeks after the 30th anniversary of his landmark film, She’s Gotta Have It (August 8), Spike Lee has announced that he is adapting the movie into a TV series. It is fitting that his first theatrically-released feature film will also serve as the first full TV series Lee has created and directed.

When released in 1986, She’s Gotta Have It was groundbreaking on a number of levels. Funded by Lee from credit cards and a generous gift from his grandmother, the film is credited with the birth of the independent film movement of the 80s. It also was a watershed moment in Black cinema. While there were a number of films featuring Black actors made in the 70s, in the so-called “Blaxploitation” era, those movies came to be seen as catering to stereotypes, portraying Blacks as pimps, drug dealers and other negative characters. Even positive portrayals were caricatures that were hyper-sexualized, Kung Fu experts or jive talkers, often all-in-one. Further, while those films featured Black characters, the vast majority were made by White executives, writers and directors. Lee’s film featured Blacks in front of and behind the camera, and portrayed regular folks dealing with regular issues, like dating. The film also was subversive and progressive by centering around a powerful female character, Nola Darling, allowing her to be sexual with more than one partner without denigrating her. She added layers of complexity to what it meant to be a strong woman, and, in many ways, she was the precursor to the characters featured on HBO’s breakout hit, Sex And The City, which would hit the airwaves more than 10 years later.

She’s Gotta Have It not only ignited Lee’s career, it blazed the path for what many regard as the golden age of Black film, with Lee making Oscar contenders like Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X, and opening the door for directors like John Singleton (Boyz N The Hood), who would become the youngest director ever to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, and the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society). A plethora of films showcasing Blacks in all walks of life would follow over the next several years, including The Best Man, Love Jones, Brown Sugar, Juice and New Jack City, to name a few.

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Characters from She’s Gotta Have It even had life outside of the film, as Spike famously reprised his role as Mars Blackmon, that fast-talking, gold-chain-wearing basketball fanatic, who was obsessed with Nola, in the brand defining commercials he did with Nike and Michael Jordan, to launch Air Jordan into the stratosphere.

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Now, 20 years later, the film itself is getting new life with the TV series which will be in partnership with Netflix. The limited series will be 10 30-minute episodes, each of which will be directed by Lee. Rather than a re-tread of the past, the series will be a re-imagination of the film, bringing it into contemporary times. In a statement, Spike said of the project “SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT Has A Very Special Place In My Heart. We Shot This Film In 12 Days (2 Six Day Weeks) Way Back In The Back Back Of The Hot Summer Of 1985 For A Mere Total of $175,000. Funds That We Begged, Borrowed and Whatnot To Get That Money. This Is The 1st Official Spike Lee Feature Film Joint And Everything That We Have Been Blessed With In This Tough Business Of Film All Have Been Due To SGHI. Now With The Passing (August 8th) Of The 30th Anniversary, It’s A Gift That Keeps On Giving. We Are Getting An Opportunity To Revisit These Memorable Characters Who Will Still Be Relevant And Avant Garde 3 Decades Later.”

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The TV series will be executive produced by Lee and his wife. Lee gave his wife all the credit in having the foresight to turn the film into a bigger project. “With All That Said It Was My Wife, Tonya Lewis Lee, Producer In Her Own Right, Who Had The Vision To Take My Film From The Big Screen And Turn It Into An Episodic Series,” he continued in his statement. “It Had Not Occurred To Me At All. Tonya Saw It Plain As Day. I Didn’t. We Are Hyped That NETFLIX Is Onboard With This Vision As Nola Darling, Mars Blackmon, Jamie Overstreet And Greer Childs DO DA DAMN THANG Now, Today In Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York.”

No date has been set yet for the release of She’s Gotta Have It, the TV series.