Emotions play a great deal in the miniseries The Corner, and I feel there are specific emotions we are supposed to feel, but is it almost forced? Charles S. Dutton cold opens the miniseries, detailing that the corner breathes both life and death; a cruel juxtaposition that describes the lives of most, if not all, living in the corner of West Baltimore.
We’re meant to feel for the McCulloughs and their problems; the addictions of Gary and Fran, DeAndre’s constant fight of trying to be something like his father was; successful, on top, a family man (when Tyreeka has their child). But every time something positive seems to happen in their lives, it goes wrong and the three revert back to square one, whether it is doing drugs, or selling, or even performing capers. Our emotions get “played” just like their hopes. It feels unfair on both a fictional and real-life level.
But possibly this is because I have some sort of personal connection to this. I can’t possibly say I grew up on a corner like in West Baltimore, but I obviously call home a neighborhood that is predominately black. I hear occasional gunshots, I get told about the random deaths that happen a few blocks away from my own. I have always been told from a young age that I didn’t need to be caught up in the drama of the ghetto. There’s a clear expectation to certain black neighborhoods to be seen as a “Corner”-like situation; even I unfortunately have that expectation considering I live close to Englewood during school breaks.
Due to this, I felt emotionally drained whenever Gary was the focal point of a scene. I didn’t think of it from a “Baltimore” aspect. Sure, the setting was clearly in a specific location, but the idea of someone having an internal struggle with themselves just to keep from stealing from their own mother to get their fix can happen anywhere. During that moment and the epilogue at the end of Everyman’s Blues, I vocally disclosed my emotions at Gary; proud he decided not to steal from his mother, and a sort of mourning groan seeing the actor portraying Gary dead in his bed due to a bad hit.
At the same time, I think that makes the miniseries more powerful.