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Black Cake–Crumbs from the Past or Just Desserts?

In this haunting story of a young girl’s treacherous journey from Jamaica to England and then to California, we see the erasing of her past in order to survive. Black Cake is  a Hulu eight-episode miniseries based on the titular best-selling novel by the Jamaican American author, Charmaine Wilkerson.  Opening in the late 1960’s with a beautiful young Jamaican teenager, Covey Lyncook (Mia Isaac) is practicing swimming in order to compete competitively.  Her mother left when she was a young child, and her father, a debt-ridden gambler, does the unforgivable:  trade his debts for his daughter by promising her in marriage to a loan shark.  At the wedding, her mother’s best friend makes a traditional black cake and chaos ensues.  

 An  opportunity to assume another identity arises when an unforeseen tragedy happens.  Covey, the runaway bride now in London, assumes a new identity:  Eleanor Bennett (Chipo Chung).  Years later, her two estranged children: her daughter Benny (Adrienne Warren) and her son Byron (Bashy) have to settle their now-deceased mother’s estate.  The instructions in the will make clear that the two must  listen to things unsaid on a flash drive given to their mother’s lawyer.  Shocked by the true story of their mother and her difficult past, Benny and Byron must accept her origins and her reasons for not telling them the truth.  Will the brother and sister reconnect or separate forever?  Will they understand their mother’s motives, her inner turmoil, and love, as well as forgive her for what she had done?

A fast-paced series of portraits of a family, its secrets, and its lies.  Clever with strong acting from the cast, style crossing cultural boundaries, and enough visual panache to keep the viewers’ eyes and mind engaged.

Availability:  Hulu

Note:  Charmaine Wilkerson, the author, was born in New York but became familiar with Jamaica when visiting her family’s relatives.

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