“Queens” unites renowned musical artists Eve, Brandy, Naturi Naughton, and longtime actress Nadine Velazquez. Nadine is considered a newcomer as a musical artist. “Queens” premiered October 19, 2021, at 10:00 p.m. on ABC. This television drama was written by Zahir McGhee (Scandal). “Queens” tells the story of four former bandmates, 90’s hip-hop group called the Nasty B*tches, now in their 40’s seeking to rekindle their fame after having been estranged for twenty years. The series stars Eve as Brianna (Professor Sex), Brandy as Naomi (Xplicit Lyrics), Naturi Naughton as Jill (Da Thrill) and Nadine Velazquez as Valeria (Butter Pecan).
It’s understandable that the first episode of “Queens” would make it a priority to flesh out its world beyond the Nasty Girls themselves, introducing obstacles and/or allies in their former manager (Taylor Selé), Brianna’s cheating husband (RonReaco Lee) and the hot new rapper who makes their comeback possible (Pepi Sonuga).
The music video that opens ABC’s new drama “Queens” is fire. Each member of the Nasty Girls, Naomi, Valeria, Jill, and Brianna, comes out of a burning mansion, across the bow of a luxurious yacht, and through a chorus line of half-nude dancers without missing a step. Directed by Tim Story, whose ’90s résumé boasts videos for Tyrese, ’N Sync and Ginuwine, the video for “Nasty Girl” knows what it has to do to evoke memories of the specific window in hip-hop history it’s trying to capture.
One of the shows simplest, yet hottest scenes is one in which the performers trade freestyle bars that reflect the realities of their lives as more experienced 40-year-old women — and feel like Queens. And listening to Naomi’s daughter JoJo perform before judges and a parent audience hoping for acceptance into Helman, noted as one of the most esteemed music institutions in the world, was electrifying.
With all the drama off stage brewing, episode three ends with a shocker. Brianna’s husband, Jeff, who had been diagnosed with having a brain tumor, and as a result, amnesia after being caught cheating on her, is found dead in bed. In the scene Brianna was sitting on the edge of the bed, pouring her heart out about how the cheating made her feel and then told Jeff she forgave him and wanted to move forward. When she turned to seek feedback, she discovered that Jeff had passed away. What timing!
“Queens” is like a unique, much needed breath of fresh air for major network television. McGhee cast multiple women of color to bring this story to life, something unheard of but long overdue. Superstars, each in their own right, lead cast members seek to provide an authentic performance tapping into their own experiences and emotions.
The idea of one-time stars nursing old grudges and grasping for another few minutes of fame is hardly a new one, but the hip-hop backdrop and casting gives “Queens” a relatively fresh feel. We intend to keep watching to see how these four Queens continue to elevate and walk in their ‘new’ greatness.