The rest of the episode gave me vibes of a Barry Jenkins film especially the show’s score which has an avant-garde sound combined with jazz music
‘The Porter’ review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Canada has a rich history that has set examples for the rest of the world and led to innovative achievements. There is also a history that shows a different Canada that you may not know and a history that is underappreciated. Some people might know the lost neighbourhood of Logan’s Alley in Vancouver’s Black Canadian history.
In the 1920s, there were a group of black Canadians that worked in a major railroad company that travelled between Montreal and Chicago. Their story was almost forgotten until now with The Porter. The show which is a co-production between CBC and BET is historic because it is the first Canadian show to have both a mainly black cast and crew.
The show begins in 1921 during a time when black Canadians did not have a lot of labour rights and prohibition was in effect in the United States. Junior Massey (Aml Ameen) goes on his routine job as a porter for Cross-Continental Railway. He and his fellow porters including his best friend Zeke (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) served during World War I.
When one of the porters, Henry, passes away on the job while repairing the train’s air conditioning, their bosses charge his family for his uniform because he is black. His family is at the UNIA where Junior’s wife, Marlene (Mouna Traoré), works as a nurse while persuading her boss to get more funding for their services. These events lead to a movement where a person’s wealth is not determined by their race but instead by class.
One of the first few shots in the first episode of The Porter where we see the porters on their way to work was like watching a 1970s drama and shows how close they were even at work and a flourishing neighbourhood in Montreal during that time. The rest of the episode gave me vibes of a Barry Jenkins film especially the show’s score which has an avant-garde sound combined with jazz music; it shows the grittiness of how all the characters are struggling and looking back at their past. The story is complex but might end up being predictable in the end.
The acting in the first episode is great, especially from Rowe Jr. and we will see more of that throughout the show. So far, the bosses of the porters were depicted as trying to stop their movement which could also add to the problems that will emerge later in the season. The Porter got a lot of hype just a few weeks before it began and could shed light on how a group of black Canadian railroad workers championed their labour rights in the country.
There was a talk with the creative team of The Porter this week presented by VIFF that aired on their website; they talked about the creative process of the show which I will talk about next week. The Porter airs Monday at 9:00 PM on CBC.