It has been a while since Michaela Coel first wowed us with Chewing Gum, one of the most unique and refreshing comedies of recent TV history. It’s been a while since Michaela Coel was at the forefront of pop culture consciousness as a new face and voice to watch in television. She’s been working steadily (most recently on the Emmy-winning Black Mirror episode “USS Callister” and the UK show Black Earth Rising) and yet, it feels like it has been so long since we’ve seen Michaela Coel.
The last time we wrote about Michaela, she was at the London premiere of Black Panther and Lainey was yelling at you to watch. Seriously, if you haven’t watched Chewing Gum yet, I’m equally mad at you and jealous of you. I’m jealous that you get to experience Tracey’s awkward for the first time but I’m mad that you didn’t listen to us the first time we yelled at you to pay attention to Michaela’s work. Well, I’m going to yell again. Michaela’s latest work deserves our support. Michaela is starring in a Netflix movie musical aptly titled Been So Long. It looks AMAZING.
Here’s the official Netflix synopsis of Been So Long, which is adapted from a stage show by Che Walker.
Romance, rage and revenge. BEEN SO LONG is a neon soaked, modern day romance set on the streets of London’s Camden Town. We follow Simone (Michaela Coel), a dedicated single mother who, on a rare night on the town is charmed by a handsome yet troubled stranger, Raymond (Arinze Kene); igniting old and new feelings. Set against the backdrop of an ever-changing city, BEEN SO LONG is a musical with a fresh take on love, life and moving on.
Yes, yes, yes and more YES. My answer to Netflix asking me if I want to watch it again is already YES. My algorithm better stay ready. After the success of Set It Up and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Netflix knows we want romance and they are delivering. Been So Long is directed by Tinge Krishnan as Netflix continues their streak of letting female directors helm their romances films.
This romance in particular is already exhilarating just based on the trailer. HELLO Arinze Kene, who plays Raymond. Goddamn. More importantly, Michael Coel plays Simone, the romantic lead of this musical. Romantic leads of mainstream, North American movie musicals - and romcoms in general - don’t typically look like Simone. Their skin is usually lighter and their hair is longer. Every time I have to point out something like this, I wish I didn’t. Michaela Coel is a STUNNING leading lady who obviously would be the object of many affections. And yet, we’ve rarely seen this play out on screen. Until it becomes standard, I’m going to keep pointing it out. Until then, a musical featuring a black lead who looks like Michaela Coel and a black love story like this one is still radical.
Last year, I interviewed Michaela Coel for ELLE Canada. We talked about the representation of black women on television.
“I think that we deserve to add our portrait to the gallery of life, to the gallery of television and we want that portrait to be accurate.”
Been So Long looks like a beautiful painting to add to that gallery. Plus, it’s full of gorgeous people (including Gendry from Game of Thrones!) singing and dancing and falling in love. I’M IN. Been So Long premieres on Netflix on October 26th.
Attached - Michaela speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August.