This blog contains spoilers.
My movie and tv show tastes are simple. It has to have a Black person in the lead role. That’s usually what I’m looking for as I scroll Netflix or Hulu for something new. I also don’t take many recommendations. I've carefully curated the humans I follow on social media, but in all their brilliance they are often too woke when it comes to their movie/tv show tastes. I often say I watch movies and tv shows just to be entertained. I don’t always want to think or feel deeply about them. My brilliant friends are always thinking deeply about a show/movie, and I don't always want to. So when they "hate" something I don't always listen because I can often suspend my "wokeness" for the sake of entertainment.
But this time I couldn't.
When I scrolled Netflix a few days ago, Behind Her Eyes was trending and I watched a bit of the trailer. Simona Brown, a Black woman, (Louise) and Tom Bateman (David) shared an awkwardly sweet interaction about their chance encounter a few nights prior.
I was intrigued. I jumped in.
Single mother, Louise, gets gussied up for a night out. Her friend stands her up at their meetup spot and as she prepares to leave the bar she spills a drink on David. Cliché but I’m a sucker for romance so I kept going. David and Louise share a few more drinks, never exchanging names, and they clearly have a connection. They end the night with a kiss that David pulls away from. The next day, Louise reports to work to only to realize that David, Dr. Ferguson, is her new boss.
And oh yeah, he’s married.
Oh and his wife is a creepy, single, white female type.
This is where my dread starts. My body immediately tensed up when I saw this white woman. I’ve been Black my whole life. I know the violence that white women inflict on Black women thus I knew this wasn’t going to end well for Lou.
The wife, Adele (Eve Hewson) “accidentally” bumps into Lou. Lou knows she’s the wife, but Adele is “meeting” Lou for the first time. Adele aggressively pursues a friendship with Lou and begs her not to tell David that they’re getting on – in a friendship. And they do get on in friendship, but Lou stays quiet about it.
Three episodes in I nearly quit because I could feel the doom. Adele’s obsession with Lou was unsettling. David’s “passion” for Lou was something not good.
I’ll skip ahead and tell you that it doesn’t end well for Lou – the Black woman. I mean but does it ever?
This is when I wish I could just watch a show, like it or dislike it and move on. I want to watch and not see the inherent anti-blackness. But this one was too egregious.
Finally, they show us that Adele knows how to astrally project. She taught Lou how to do it, and in a flashback to her rehab days, we see Adele has taught another friend Rob how to project as well. Rob convinces a young Adele to switch bodies while they’re in astral projection. They switch and he refuses to switch back. Rob “kills” Adele who is now in his body. This means that weird white woman Adele has been weird white man Rob living as Adele. He was obsessed with Adele’s life and loved David – he had to have both.
Building to the climax, David is off putting out a fire, pun intended, in Scotland but he’s planning to divorce Adele and be with Lou. Rob-Adele attempts suicide in order to coax Lou to her rescue. When Lou can’t rescue Rob-Adele she projects inside the house to attempt a rescue. Rob-Adele is also in projection. Rob-Adele zooms to Lou’s body, “jumps in” and Lou is in Adele’s body. Rob-Adele, now in Lou’s body, rises, goes into the house and repeats the same “murder” he'd committed on Adele-Adele years earlier. Lou dies in Adele’s body, it looks as though Adele has taken her own life. Rob-Adele is now Rob-Lou. That's a lot. I know.
We then see Rob-Louise learning to be Lou. She picks up her son the next day. Her boy, Adam, immediately senses something is off with his mom. Next scene: Rob-Lou and David are getting married and they’re off to their honeymoon. A forlorn Adam sits in the backseat looking/listening to his “mother” who clearly has a plan to rid herself of Adam as well.
Now I’m seething. Because why can’t the Black girl win damnit?
I’m exhausted of this story. A Black woman’s body being used for a white person’s gain. A Black child left to fend for himself. I want more for my entertainment. I want writers to imagine a world that’s better than this. I want a world that let’s Black children win – not one where their harm is inevitable. I want a TV world to at least be a little better than the real one. I want the Black woman to have full agency of her choices and body from the opening credits until to end.
I know this isn’t too much to ask.
But maybe I should stop hoping that white directors and writers can imagine a world where Black people are fully in charge of themselves and their bodies for an entire film.