We see Nola Darling’s bed before we see Nola. The headboard is romantic and imposing, with pistachio-green wooden planks extending high, each one holding a candle. It’s the centerpiece of Nola’s apartment and of her life: She’s the so-called “sex-positive, polyamorous pansexual” at the center of She’s Gotta Have It, Spike Lee’s reboot of his own 1986 film. In the movie and the new Netflix series, Nola’s bed was a key detail to get right: “It’s part of Nola. It would be idiotic for me to change the bed from the movie,” Lee told Vulture. Then, with a laugh, he added, “I try to keep those idiotic things to a minimum.”
Nola’s bed feels the same three decades later, and it’s only when they’re compared side by side that you notice the differences. “The original bed was done by [production designer] Wynn Thomas. That bed came from the film, but it’s a more expensive version.” Lee says. “We spent more money on the bed than anything. Of the limited budget we had for production design, the bed was the biggest expense. Wynn had to get that made.” That bed was immediately memorable: It was arched, with small shelves and two side tables, all adorned with candles. (Dear White People paid homage to it earlier this year.)
The reboot’s bed only gets bigger and better: This time around, Darling has upgraded from what looks like a full-sized bed to a California king — “a big motherfucking bed,” Lee says — with a plush mattress from Comfort Bedding.
“It’s her temple. She takes that part of her life very serious,” Lee says. In the show and in conversation, it’s called her Loving Bed, the only place where she’s willing to have sex with the three men in her life: Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos, reprising Lee’s role in the original film), Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony), and Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent). “It couldn’t have been an ordinary bed. It would not have had the same impact,” Lee adds. In the finale episode, Nola and her three lovers share a Thanksgiving meal and a dance, and end up passed out in the bed.
As we talked about the bed, Lee and I started going back and forth about why Nola would let one of her lovers — Mars, naturally — wear sneakers while they have sex. (Mid-scene, the camera pans down their bodies, intertwined, only to show him with his shoes still tied.) “Mars is maybe the least suited for a relationship with Nola,” I say, “but he’s still my favorite of her suitors.”
“Is he [wrong for her] because he doesn’t take his Jordans off when he’s making love with Nola?” Lee asks.
“That’s part of it.”
“You want him to take his Jordans off?”
“Yes! No shoes in the bed! That’s rule number one.”
Lee smiles. “What? That ain’t her rule!”
“But shouldn’t it be?” I ask. This is the Loving Bed, after all, and didn’t he say the bed is Nola’s temple?
“Nola’s a sneakerhead!” he finally announces. “Those are Jordans! They aren’t Vans,” he says. (Yes, those are the shoes I’m wearing, and yes, I am embarrassed.) “This is not Reebok! This is not Under Armour! These are Jordans!”
“So, only Jordans in the famous Loving Bed?”
“Only! Nola knows what’s up. If they’re wearing sneakers, them motherfuckers” — here, Lee’s voice gets extremely solemn — “them motherfuckers better be Jordans.”