'Queenie' is TV Royalty

Dionne Brown as Queenie Jenkins, on her knees praying in 'Queenie'

Dionne Brown as Queenie Jenkins in 'Queenie'


Sometimes, the more specific something is, the more universal it becomes. Such is the case with the Onyx Collective’s new series, Queenie, streaming on Hulu. The eight-episode series, based on the 2019 novel of the same name by Candice Carty-Williams, follows 25-year-old Queenie (Dionne Brown) during a tumultuous year of her life.

Queenie is a Black woman of Jamaican descent living in South London. She’s got an entry-level job at a newspaper where her boss often dismisses her ideas. “Keep doing what you’re meant to be doing. You’re social media assistant for a reason. That you are good at,” Gina (Sally Phillips) tells her. She’s juggling a very opinionated extended family and three very different best friends in: the hilariously outspoken friend from birth, Kyazike (Bellah), her reserved co-worker Darcy (Tilly Keeper), and her judgy university buddy Cassandra (Elisha Applebaum). She’s also recovering from an abrupt and unceremonious break-up with her long-term boyfriend, Tom (Ted Norman).

The series is rooted in the Black British experience from the small moments (Queenie still has to show her security badge at work even when she’s on the company’s diversity poster) to the bigger ones (in a work dispute, everyone automatically believes the white man). It’s also rooted in the immigrant experience, with Queenie’s grandmother’s struggle to find joy after leaving Jamaica, and her inability to talk about those feelings has a trickle-down effect on her family. But above all, it is how those things affect something we all know well: the experience of being in your twenties — that uncertain time between college graduation and settling into adulthood where mistakes both large and small are made. 

Dionne Brown as Queenie debates her future with her friends in 'Queenie'

Dionne Brown as Queenie in 'Queenie' 

LIONSGATE/Latoya Okuneye

The series kicks off with a scene many women will find relatable. A distracted doctor is chatting Queenie up while giving her a gynecological exam. “Isn’t it enough that she can see inside me? Does she need to know about my day job as well,” Queenie wonders. Queenie’s narration is hilarious as the viewer often hears her innermost thoughts. “Why is this family so afraid of seasoning?” she wonders at dinner at Tom’s parents’ house. She gets in trouble when her innermost thoughts bubble into her outermost thoughts.

But, as the series slowly reveals, Queenie is harboring deep-rooted childhood trauma. Trauma defines how she interacts with people and gives context to why she’s often so quietly angry and why she’s so afraid to let people in. “You push me away for so much of this relationship,” Tom tells her, only to receive the reply, “It’s my stuff.” She’s been dating Tom for three years and is currently living with him but can’t bring herself to tell him about the medical emergency she endured. She can’t bring herself to even see her mother Sylvie (Ayesha Antoine), let alone begin confronting their fractured relationship.

Ricocheting from her break-up, Queenie goes looking for love in all the wrong places before soon realizing that random sex with dating app hook-ups isn’t as fun as she thought it would be. 

Dionne Brown as Queenie as she debates her future in 'Queenie'

Dionne Brown as Queenie in 'Queenie'

LIONSGATE/Latoya Okuneye

The book, the first British bestseller written by a Black author, was often called the “Black Bridget Jones.” Queenie’s ability to get herself into questionable situations will feel familiar. But with its frank talk about sex and dating, the eight-episode series is sometimes reminiscent of both Sex and the City and Insecure: stories about women supporting each other and getting through life day by day. Her childhood friend Frank (Samuel Adewunmi) is always there to support her even as she doesn’t recognize what’s right in front of her.

When Queenie hits a professional and emotional rock bottom, the series begins to unpack long-repressed emotions. That’s not so easy for her. Talking about your feelings in therapy is not something her grandmother (Llewella Gideon) or her aunt Maggie (Michelle Greenridge) approve of. “If you had just spoken to your mother like I told you, you wouldn’t have to pay some woman we don’t know to talk about family business,” her grandmother tells her. Even so, it takes until the sixth episode of the season to reveal what Queenie herself has been unwilling to face.

At the center of it all, Brown, last seen in Apple TV+’s Criminal Record, deftly and effortlessly carries the series. She’s an instantly compelling protagonist. Viewers will root for Queenie even when frustrated by her choices and devastated by all she must endure. She’s also supported by a stellar cast. Standouts include the British hip-hop artist Bellah (making her acting debut) as the highly fashionable Kyazike. She is hilarious as Queenie’s fiercely loyal best friend who says things like, “It’s time to step your pussy up, babe.”

Dionne Brown as Queenie in a playboy bunny outfit in 'Queenie'

Dionne Brown as Queenie in 'Queenie'


As a grandmother who rules with excellent cooking and outspoken opinions, Gideon makes the family matriarch much more than a stereotypical elder. To the show’s credit, multiple generations of women, from Queenie’s 15-year-old cousin Diana (Cristale De’Abreu) to her loving aunt Maggie, are fully realized characters.

Book-to-TV series adaptations aren’t always this fantastic. Often, much gets lost in translation from the page to the screen. Carty-Williams, who makes a cameo in the show’s seventh episode, created and executive produced the series and served as the showrunner. She also wrote several of the episodes. Her involvement in the series is vibrantly felt. All hail Queenie!

All eight episodes of Queenie stream on Hulu and under the Hulu tile on Disney+ beginning on Friday, June 7, 2024.

Amy Amatangelo headshot

When Amy Amatangelo was little, her parents limited the amount of TV she could watch. You can see how well that worked out. 

In addition to Telly Visions, her work can currently be found in Paste Magazine, Emmy Magazine, and the LA Times. She also is the Treasurer of the Television Critics Association. Amy liked the ending of Lost and credits the original 90210 for her life-long devotion to teen dramas. She stays up at night wondering what happened between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi and really thinks Carrie Bradshaw needs to join match.com so she can meet a new guy. Follow her at @AmyTVGal.

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