Set in the year 1977, two women look to integrate their small town, inspired by the miniseries “Roots” as it hits the airwaves.
As “Roots” was making its 1977 debut on public television, a small town became fixated on the series while at the same time becoming the backdrop that forged a relationship between a black and white woman who worked together at a beauty shop. Violet’s (Maggie Grace) dream is to get her license and own her own chair, while Pearl’s (Uzo Aduba) dream is to go to college and study law. Violet’s only support is her Mee-Maw who raised her and while taking care of Mee-Maw, her goal is to purchase a chair and pass her test in order to move up in Ms. Shirley’s (Elizabeth McGovern) shop. Pearl has an entire family of supporters including Hattie (Cicely Tyson), an elderly member who is there to remind her of the times they are living in and how difficult it would be to work around the slave mentality that exists there in the town.
As the series continues, tempers in the town begin to flare up and eventually Violet and Pearl’s relationship starts being tested by Ms. Shirley and her customers who felt Pearl is forgetting her place and Violet is a little too anxious to get her own chair. Pearl, who is glued to the television each night, resents the depictions in the television series and begins allowing her bitterness to impact the relationship between her and Violet. To add fuel to the fire, Bud (Adam Broady), an outsider who comes to the town to make a new bridge, is immediately blindsided by the racism that exists, but deeply impressed by the likes of Violet who simply refuses to be sidetracked by a stranger who is only in town for a short visit.
The passing of Violet’s test as well as the passing of Mee-Maw changes the entire direction of Violet’s dreams and soon Ms. Shirley comes to resent her different way of doing things that the diehard customers began to like. Eventually, both Violet and Pearl are fired, but not before their relationship begins to fall apart. When they finally realize they were better together as a team, they decide they will not let the root of the problem be the television series, nor Ms. Shirley who tried everything in her power to keep them from being successful. As the television series comes to an end, the entire town is divided by the racism and stereotypical influence that keeps its citizens from coming together. It takes the entire town erupting in violence, and Violet’s shop burning down before they come together and support one another in spite of their differences. In the end, both Pearl and Violet come to realize that they can still be friends in spite of their differences and that they can still realize their separate goals after losing everything except the desire that each of them had to truly be successful in life.
Maggie Grace from “Taken” and Uzo Aduba from “Orange Is The New Black” are excellently cast as small town women who rise to the occasion to support one another in a town that isn’t prepared to handle their unique ability to look beyond color at a time when “Roots” made a lasting impact on whites and blacks alike. Director Michael Wilson does a great job of leveling the playing field at a time when it was vital to reconstructing attitudes in order for the town and its citizens to get to the root of its business and personal problems. It is definitely ninety-nine minutes of eye-opening entertainment worth watching.
Available on DVD Tuesday, June 20th