When stories fit together like a puzzle it is because pieces are missing. Here is one: a woman manages to win over men’s money and starts her own company for feminine hair care products, where she employs thousands of women; that woman becomes an exemplary figure thanks to her faultless effort; she is a woman without studies, without voice and without story, who cancels the misery that society had reserved for her. And —attention with the irresistible force of Self Made, a neoliberal tale turned into a four-episode series available on Netflix— she is the first millionaire in the United States. In addition to fighting class and male prejudices, you must deal with racism, because Sarah Breedlove (1867-1919), known as Madam CJ Walker, was an Afro-descendant laundress who inspires the highest peaks of the essence of the American founding myth: the self-made human being.
It is very nice that a well-built series, but very evident in its intentions, makes you think that you are not racist or macho because you support the freedom of an African-American woman who faces archetypes with whom it is impossible to identify. And they say phrases of this fur: “How are we going to get America to take us into account if we let our women earn more than we do,” says an Afro-descendant man in his face. She has just declared her intentions: that her employees earn four times more than the washerwomen. Of inverse classism, we will speak another day. The black man must rise first. Women must stay in your place, “responds the almighty. The climax comes moments before this confrontation between good and evil: she asks men for money to set up a large factory for her products and in this way give opportunities to their women. “This is how the race will rise,” says the protagonist, played by Octavia Spencer. Capital — controlled by men — will liberate oppressed women.
The four-chapter drama is based on the book On Her Own Ground (2001) by author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter. Basketball player Lebron James is the executive producer. Actress and filmmaker Kali Lemmons directs two episodes and the others, director DeMane Davis. Nothing could go wrong with this African-American poster and with a very clear motto: hair is resistance. In fact, the narrative climax — and the best of the series — comes with the vindication of the women’s voice: “I have been silent all my life, but something changed when I started to manufacture my product and tell my story. It’s powerful, “says Walker. Spotless if it weren’t for the missing piece. The series mitigates and forgives the fact that the origins of its product, work, and fame stem from theft. Sarah appropriates the magic formula of her main competitor, who is shown to us – archetype, again – as an envious and evil being. Myths, to work, need a hand of pure white.