Warning: This article contains spoilers about Sunday's season 1 finale of P-Valley, "Murda Night."
"Now you see what girls do in the Paradise Room," said fan-favorite club owner Uncle Clifford, concluding the explosive finale of Starz's strip club drama P-Valley that aired Sunday night.
The electric first season of the Mississippi-set series ended with Hailey (Elarica Johnson) choosing to thank Mercedes (Brandee Evans) and Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan), by using the money she stole from her abusive (possibly now dead?) ex to save the PYNK from being bought out by the greedy casino developers who were after the waterfront property.
Through a phone call with reception more torn up than the club after Murda Night, and eventually via email, playwright and newly-minted showrunner Katori Hall graciously chatted with EW for a postmortem on the freshman series, saying, "It's very rare that a show gets so much critical love and audiences love it the same, if not more, and I just really hope that we continue the amazing momentum that we have to tell these important stories because now we have the whole world watching."
See below what Hall had to say about what happens now that the women of the PYNK have some power, which musicians have come out as fans of the show, and how the COVID-19 pandemic may factor into season 2.
Domestic violence affects multiple characters on the show and brings things to a boiling point for both Hailey and Keyshawn in the finale. What were some of your reasons for including those storylines and making them so central to the season’s conclusion?
It's such an important topic to address particularly — and it's crazy because I've been working on the show for three, four years — living in this moment during the pandemic where a lot of women and some men have been forced to live with their abusers, shelter in place with their abusers, and so it's something that happens every day. There's a lot of pain surrounding it, especially when you see these women. Of course on Twitter, you know, they're like, "Why would she let that man hit her? Why would she let that white man beat her?" I know domestic abuse survivors personally, in fact, I've worked as a volunteer in New York City hospitals with victims. This show holds up a mirror to what is a very complicated issue.
In episode 7, a frustrated Gidget asks Autumn a question about Keyshawn, "Why won't she just leave?" She poignantly replies, "Because that's when they're most likely to kill you." It's a statistical fact for women who suffer from domestic abuse. In Hailey, we see a woman who tried to get rid of her abuser advise another woman suffering, all to no avail. In the season finale, to see Keyshawn impulsively protect her abuser is heartbreaking. Keyshawn pulling that pink gun on Diamond instead of Derrick is of course a highly dramatized version of that type of protection, but it's reflective of women who do everything from make excuses to lie to refuse to press charges to protect their abusers. While it's hard to see, it's real. There's a lot of factors that are at play when it comes to the cage that Keyshawn is trying to get out of, so in the season finale, she just ain't ready to unlock the cage even though the key is inside her. So I know that they're going to be mad at us because they want Diamond and Keyshawn to have their little kissy moment all season, but they're just going to have to ride with us until she's ready to unlock the door.
Next season will we be seeing a flashback to what actually happened when the gun went off in the Paradise Room? Did Hailey finally shoot him dead? Will we be seeing more of whoever the Delta Devoted are?
If you see, in previous Paradise Room scenes, the men don't come out unscathed. I can only say that the secret of what went down in the Paradise Room will bond Uncle Clifford, Mercedes, and Hailey forever. It remains to be seen if the Delta Devoted will come looking for Montavius in season 2.
What can we expect for season 2? Are the women becoming bosses one of the big changes in the story (i.e. Hailey owning the club, Keyshawn being an influencer)?
At the end of the season finale, the story ends where Hailey has the ultimate power. She came in getting her ass smacked on the dance floor and now, she has some ownership in the club. The power dynamics at the club have completely changed and to see Uncle Clifford and Hailey fight over the throne will be stuff of legends. Exciting! Also, the fact that Mercedes will still be fighting the big Goliath in her life that is respectability politics. Will she be able to get her dance studio and custody of her daughter? Will she ever conquer her pimp-turned-pastor mother? Only time will tell.
With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to everything from drive-thru strip clubs to an influx of creators on OnlyFans, will the show address the virus and the changes that have come from it?
I have been inspired by how strip clubs have tried to be extremely resilient during this pandemic that has caused so many live performance venues to shutter. I think everybody knows the new Goliath is Miss Rona. Our show will definitely be in conversation with what is happening in our world right now, [and] I cannot wait to see Uncle Clifford in a rhinestone mask and lace gloves. I cannot wait to see her.
Will the show stay entirely in Chucalissa, Miss.?
The glow up of Lil' Murda and Miss Mississippi is real, and I foresee us going beyond the boundaries of Chucalissa as their star rises beyond local fame, whether it's to other real towns in Mississippi, or Memphis, or Atlanta. I think that it's inevitable that we'll expand our universe because I think the show is about how the strip club is a reflection of people who live in the intersection of race, class, and gender, and that's just everywhere, but we'll continue to dig our heels into exploring the American South.
With music being an essential part of the show, what response have you gotten from musicians? Are there already plans for cameos or more songs made exclusively for the show (i.e. Jucee Froot's theme)?
There has been so much effusive praise regarding the music on our show! I can tell that people are listening. I'm so grateful for Megan Thee Stallion who posted on her Insta-story that she watched episode 6 where we used her song "Hot Girl," and she was like "Yas Autumn Night, get that bag," and it was like Oh my God, Megan Thee Stallion is the best. The fact that Cardi B, who is such an inspiration on the show, ended up retweeting a GIF that was made about "WAP" and they used the scene from episode 4 where Lil' Murda is outside of the club, and she quoted it with emojis that were like laughing, crying. And [last] Sunday night, Big K.R.I.T. retweeted us, saying "Thank you for showing love," and you know, Big K.R.I.T. is from Mississippi, one of the big MVPs of Mississippi rap, so it's a lot of people watching and supporting.
Snoop Dogg on his Insta page with his 40+ million followers, he's always posting, "Yo, watching P-Valley dog, this is my favorite show." So the fact that he's showing us so much love it just makes me feel like nationwide, worldwide, it's getting a lot of love. But we're also getting a lot of like, "They just need to like...," you know, "These conversations are uncomfortable that y'all bringing up," and "Why we gotta see Black people like this?" "Why we sound like this?" But on the whole, it's been a very positive response. We're really proud of that and we hope to keep on centering Southern female emcees and that Dirty South sound. Because the South got something to saaaayyyy!