Exploring the Multifaceted Identities and Secrets Families Keep


Hulu’s new show ‘Black Cake’ delves into the complexities of family secrets and how experiences shape identity, blending Caribbean history with contemporary America.

The Intricacies of Family and Identity

Hulu’s ‘Black Cake’ is a new series that delves into the intricate dynamics of family relationships, identity, and the complexities of keeping secrets. Based on Charmaine Wilkerson’s 2022 novel, the show explores the ways in which marriage, migration, and motherhood can profoundly influence one’s sense of self.

The Symbolism of a Titular Dessert

At the center of ‘Black Cake’ is a symbolic dessert that connects a woman named Eleanor Bennett to her birthplace, revealing profound stories and hidden pain. Through a series of voice recordings, Eleanor’s daughter and son come to learn about their mother’s deeply impactful journey, challenging their preconceptions and revealing hidden aspects of her identity.

Exploring the Past Through Flashbacks

The series takes viewers on a journey through Eleanor’s past, introducing a young girl named Covey and her experiences in Jamaica. The visual parallels between Covey’s childhood and the settings in which Eleanor raised her children provide insight into the complexities of Covey’s hidden identity and the impact it had on her later life.

The Painful Realities of Maternal Secrecy

As Eleanor’s story unfolds, it becomes clear that she concealed painful chapters of her life to protect her children. The series vividly portrays the harrowing details of Eleanor’s departure from Jamaica, emphasizing the reverberations of this rupture in her children’s lives decades later.

Revisiting the Past and Reclaiming Identity

Through voice recordings left by Eleanor, the series presents a captivating exploration of the ways in which she reconnects with her teenage self, shedding the constraints of adulthood and rediscovering the levity of her childhood. This depiction of re-parenting and self-discovery paints a strikingly expansive portrayal of motherhood.

Contemporary Realities and Deciphering Identity

While the series delves into the contemporary challenges faced by Eleanor’s children and their relevance to U.S. viewers, the focus on these storylines at times detracts from the show’s exploration of the impact of different environments on interconnected individuals. Despite this, ‘Black Cake’ shines in its contemplation of maternal identity and the complexities of Caribbean heritage.