The Porter Review

The Porter series Key Art

The Porter is an 8-part series airing on BET+. The series stars Aml Ameen, Ronnie Rowe Jr., Mouna Traoré, Loren Lott, Olunike Adeliyi, Alfre Woodard, and follows railway workers—porters—Junior Massey (Aml Ameen) and Zeke Garrett (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) as a tragic event lead them on divergent paths. Set in 1920s Montreal and inspired by true events about the first Black union, The Porter grips audiences with a compelling story that does not stint on character

The relationships between Junior, Zeke, and Marlene (Mouna Traoré) are the backbone of the series. Junior and Marlene are married with a disabled son, Teddy (Jahron Wilson), and Zeke is Junior’s closest friend. Within the first episode, the series establishes Junior and Zeke’s relationship dynamics. They take turns bailing each other out of trouble. Aml Ameen and Ronnie Rowe Jr. deliver riveting performances onscreen, breathing life into characters you laugh with and root for. Yet there is no shortage of fascinating characters. I’ve only viewed the first four episodes, but I want to see the rest. 

Blends Multiple Issues

The Porter image L to R of Junior (Aml Ameen) and Zeke (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) sitting at a table playing a game.
The Porter image L to R of Junior (Aml Ameen) and Zeke (Ronnie Rowe Jr.)

The Porter explores racism, colorism, misogynoir, and ableism, transitioning between them with ease. These moments of tension and discrimination feel like an effortless offshoot. The character’s and story’s natural progression give the conflict rather than jamming conflict in to cash in on prevalent front-page issues. The story is relatable in a micro and macro sense because exploitative businesses still exist today. Many people are victims of jobs that cut corners and endanger them for financial gain. The conflict is compelling because viewers can recall similar experiences. 

Conflict exists on multiple fronts in The Porter. Junior, Zeke, and the rest of the porters are not in the union, nor will the white union accept them into their ranks. They also struggle financially, so this opens the door to illegal avenues for revenue. Junior’s wife struggles to help the residents in their neighborhood. Unfortunately her sexist boss refuses to listen to anything she says or provide assistance. Lucy (Loren Lott) pursues her dreams of singing and dancing but struggles because of colorism. Each character dreams of something more; either for themselves or for the collective good, but discrimination based on physical traits are powerful blockades. 

Directing & Music Enhance Scenes/Acting

The directing and music also help the story move forward and add vibrancy to each scene. The settings are rich in color and style, so it is easy to watch and get lost in The Porter. The lighting may be dark on occasion, but it feels authentic to specific scenes. Shooting in a dark location while ensuring audiences can see what is going on is a challenge not everyone pulls off. I remember the Game of Thrones Battle of Winterfell and recall the acute frustration when you cannot see what is happening. Fortunately, that is not the case in The Porter.

The Porter pulls out laughter, anger, worry, and other emotions, and it is hard to pick a favorite character. I want to know more about the backstory of Junior and Zeke, which they only give glimpses of, and I hope the show does not deflate into a soap opera. The series will entertain and educate if it holds the pacing and keeps the characters’ natural flow, the series will entertain and educate. The best educational lessons are the ones that are enjoyable and inspire research to learn more. The Porter does that, and I recommend watching it. 

The Porter trailer on Youtube via BETNetworks

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