Queen Sugar has managed to find a sweet spot for tackling issues that matter and diving deep into the complicated relationships between the characters without using trauma to keep us interested. It’s a gentle show if there ever was one. But there is one character whose storyline gives me anxiety and keeps me on the edge of my seat whenever she's on screen: Darla (Bianca Lawson).
Darla is sober and trying to rebuild her relationship with her son Blue (Ethan Hutchinson), his father Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe), and the rest of the Bordelon family, who stepped in to help raise Blue when she was at the height of her drug use. Emotional stability is just as important to her as independence, as Darla is desperate to take care of herself even with odds stacked against her. In last night’s episode, she was willing to ask Ralph Angel’s sister for help finding a new job, but she's plagued by fear that her son isn’t opening up to her. Her fragility is sharp and painful to watch, which is truly a testament to Lawson’s acting skills. I often find myself wishing I could hop through my screen and hold Darla’s hand myself.
This is a reality of loving and living with someone who is walking a road of recovery in the real world, too. I am the child of a formerly addicted parent, and I know how that the road is not always straight and narrow. Addiction is a hell of a disease that can affect individuals and their families emotionally, physically, and mentally for years after the substance is nixed. There is a lot of trust to rebuild. The fear of relapse can haunt loved ones.
But for all of the turmoil that loved ones experience, the toughest daily battles remain with the person in recovery. Being misunderstood by family and friends can be one of the biggest challenges. Now that they’re back together, Ralph Angel thinks that Darla should be able to leave her recovery program and get back to a normal life. He doesn’t understand why meetings are still important to her, or why she wants to take their relationship slow with less than two years of recovery under her belt. And he probably never will.
All of these moving pieces lend themselves to an extremely sensitive representation of addiction that doesn’t harp on the sensationalized experiences of people under the influence, but a bigger picture of a human being with a problem that touches every aspect of her life. It hits very close to home and exemplifies the beauty of Queen Sugar.