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‘Queenie’ & Black Women’s Complex Relationship With Our Problematic Fave

The bustling streets of Brixton, bright bonnets, and the sound of sizzling stew. These are some of the elements within Channel 4’s TV adaption of Queenie that feel so familiar.

Published in 2019, Candice Carty-William’s eponymous novel follows Queenie Jenkins, a 25-year-old British-Jamaican woman, in the middle of a messy breakup. What starts off as a “break” turns into a hard separation from her boyfriend. But splitting from her partner is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the book, Queenie has been with her white boyfriend Tom for three years before their relationship ends. Things have been deteriorating for a while, and we meet Queenie pining for Tom, who has iced her out. We first meet Queenie with her legs in stirrups at an appointment as a memory of one of Tom’s relatives making a racist comment lingers. She’s later told that she’s had a miscarriage, although her pregnancy was unbeknownst to her. The TV series starts the very same way, and Carty-Williams has commented that audiences “don’t have to read the book and can just jump right into” the series.

The story is packed with light and dark moments, and Queenie experiences some very trying times. Speaking at a Q&A screening ahead of the series being released, showrunner and author Carty-Williams describes Queenie as “on the brink and on the edge of imploding anyway”, the breakdown of her relationship just amplifies that.