Entertainment

The Opening of 'P-Valley' Season 2 Is the Horniest Depiction of COVID Times Yet

The Starz show is telling a different kind of pandemic story.

Starz
Starz
Starz

P-Valley, the captivating drama on Starz, usually doesn’t focus on the perspective of the average strip club patron. Though the series chronicles the women who work at The Pynk, an establishment in fictional Chucalissa, Mississippi, it largely ignores leering men who come to view them work the pole. And yet the second season premiere breaks that tradition, just slightly, to incredible effect.

It follows a man we the audience have never seen before as he is lured by “Pussyland,” a car wash-slash-strip show that The Pynk’s proprietors and dancers have set up during COVID lockdown. He pays for the full experience and is led down an X-rated Alice in Wonderland style rabbit hole, a fantasy where he leaves the world of disease and an overcrowded house behind and enters a world of sudsy women lit in neons. At the end of his journey there’s Mercedes (Brandee Evans) in metallic boots with flaming heels and a cowboy hat. He masturbates as the camera cuts between her dance and his lusting eyes. When it’s over he’s offered weed wings and a Clorox wipe to clean up his semen.

It’s maybe the horniest COVID has ever been.

When P-Valley finished up its fantastic first season, creator Katori Hall, who based the show on her play of the same name, told Thrillist that she was thinking of incorporating the pandemic into the upcoming storyline. “At the end of the day, Chucalissa is a fictional town. You can make up anything,” she said. “However, to be in conversation with what is happening in the world, I think is very important. Because that’s just how the show operates, the fact that the show is talking about marginalized communities in this way, about corporate powers taking over whole neighbourhoods and whole towns.” Hall and her writers have decided to run with this idea, telling a COVID story that for once doesn’t feel overly familiar.

Starz
Starz
Starz

The opening sequence, set to Jucee Froot’s “Distance,” is stunning, but it’s also intentionally a fantasy, directed by Barbara Brown and shot by Richard J. Vialet, whose cinematography has made P-Valley one of the best and most original looking shows on air. While drive-through strip experiences were certainly not uncommon in 2020, Pussyland is a production, hypnotic and elaborate, with an infrastructure that looks anything but hastily cobbled together. The return to the real world is jarring, and not just because a man has cum on his dashboard.

Hall plunges the viewers into the thick of the pandemic, shortly before lockdown lifted, but when uncertainty and death was still thick in the air. The dancers of the Pynk are financially unstable. Chucalissa’s mayor dies of COVID in the opening moments bringing Andre (Parker Sawyers), the business man with shady intentions who falls for the Pynk’s Autumn Night (Elarica Johnson), back to the town. At home, Andre’s wife, Britney (Ashani Roberts), is working at a hospital, living in their basement, stripping down as soon as she gets home, the N95 marks still prominent on her face. Other members of the cast of characters have used the pandemic to raise their profiles: Mercedes’ mother Patrice (Harriett D. Foy) has become the face of PPE, handing out supplies from her church pulpit selling the gospel of Jesus and masks.

Bringing the audience back into mid 2020 makes P-Valley season 2 occasionally stressful to watch. It’s a reminder of a time most of us would like to forget. However, it’s clear Hall is trying to tell a pandemic narrative with which we haven’t yet been inundated. Most quote-unquote COVID content uses similar tricks: Telling stories of middle class people forced to cohabitate and work on Zoom. P-Valley is, as Hall told me in 2020, interested in marginalized communities, and recognizes that COVID is as much an economic crisis as a health crisis, a fact that only grows more relevant daily as the financial fallout of the pandemic continues to reveal itself.

But Hall also isn’t going to forget about seduction. That’s the beauty of the Pussyland opening. The dancers are so sublime, silhouetted in almost otherworldly light, that you forget about the masks and the troubles. The escape has to end sometime, but P-Valley makes sure it’s there.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.