While watching the first episode of Starz's new original series "Power," it was easy to understand Omari Hardwick's initial hesitation to get involved in the 50 Cent project. How many gangster movies with black male leads do viewers honestly need to see?
But what helps "Power" is that Omari Hardwick's character, James "Ghost" St. Patrick, is trying to get out of the drug game and transition into being a nightclub owner. The problem is his wife, Tasha St. Patrick (played by Naturi Naughton), only has the pathetically low expectations that he be the best drug dealer he can be. And his right-hand man, Tommy Egan (played by Joseph Sikora), has equally mediocre expectations. So Ghost seems to be on his own with shaking his old habits.
For viewers who love a good flick or TV series showing couples that aren't regularly seen in Hollywood, "Power" starts off strong and takes a nosedive. The constant kissing, hugging and googly eyes between Ghost and Tasha are a complete tease. Before a viewer has time to smile, the relationship is on the rocks in the very first episode. Ghost is almost running around the club like a puppy when he sees his childhood sweetheart, Angela Valdes (played by Lela Loren). So the whole idea of a strong black couple goes right out the window before the first episode ends. Even the lovemaking scene was so disconnected that it may make viewers wonder was Ghost getting tired of Tasha before or after he knew she wouldn't want him to be anything but a drug dealer. But for fans of Naughton and Hardwick, it certainly doesn't hurt to see how hot they look together.
However, her grimace at the nightclub profits give viewers a clearer idea of her stereotypical character. Viewers don't get a sense that the personalities of African-American and/or Puerto Rican female characters will bypass the usual suspects, including La La Anthony's money-grubbing, n-word slinging character Lakeisha.
The guys' personalities could possibly have some less predictable moments. For example, it's odd to see a male sidekick try to talk his friend out of cheating. Usually they roll with the punches, but Tommy goes into lecture mode about Ghost possibly hooking up with Angela again. However, Tasha has quickly moved on to pouting instead of talking to Ghost and sets her eyes on an already lustful driver Shawn (played by Sinqua Walls). If Shawn takes her up on her offer, he'll more than likely die about as painfully as his character Boyd did in "Teen Wolf."
The film has a diverse cast, but with that comes an exhausting amount of Spanish subtitles. At some points, it may make viewers feel like they may as well read a book instead of watch the show. Don't bother looking away from the screen for too long or you'll miss a significant part of the storyline. If you know Spanish already, bonus! (No shade to one particular language. It can be equally annoying with Italian gangster flicks, Asian martial arts films and French love stories with subtitles, too.)
So is the show worth the wait? It's about what would be expected of a gangster film and makes sense if you've read 50 Cent "The 50th Law" book already. For viewers who want to see something unique that African-American or Latino characters haven't done a million times already, this isn't that show. Watch old episodes of "The Wire" instead for a broader set of personalities and characters. But if this is already a genre you're interested in, it'll probably be a good season.
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