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Top Boy Returns for Its Thrilling 5th and Final Season on Netflix

The powerful British series Top Boy is back for its final season on Netflix. Then, the show returned on Netflix for its third season in 2019 and a fourth season in 2022 after a viral delay. According to the streamer, the new episodes will see Dushane and Sully “facing new challenges as everything they’ve built is under threat from both outside and within their empire.”

Top Boy in Context

In the context of Top Boy, As the fifth and final season of Top Boy premieres on Netflix, we analyze the impact of this series and the elements that propelled its portrayal of London’s black inner city to global prominence.

The first episode of Top Boy premiered on October 31, 2011, and it opened with a stark scene: a young, impressionable black boy is seen watching an armed confrontation between two local black gangs from the window of a high-rise flat.

More than drugs. As Top Boy returns for its fifth season on Netflix 12 years later, it’s worth considering what audiences may have expected when the original broadcaster Channel 4 first announced it as part of their “Drama’s Four Nights” lineup.

As my new book, “Black Boys: The Social Aesthetics of Black British Urban Films,” reveals, the arrival of Top Boy was the initial example of what I previously termed a ‘black media event,’ a phenomenon typified by the typifying of public service broadcasting drama in a certain form.

Top Boy
Black Boy

Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” (2020), Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology (2020), and Adjani Salmon’s “Dreaming Whilst Black” (2021) – which, through its production, not only emphasizes its ‘blackness’ but also its significance through its interactions with other people. Black cultural forms.

The creation of the “Black Media Event” could be situated in Irish writer Ronan Bennett’s thinking or not, who is likely to have prepared the ground for Top Boy by seeing a young black working-class boy as he conducts drug deals in Haggerston Park.

At this point, the genre of ‘Black Urban,’ which includes films such as “Bullet Boy” (2004), “Kidulthood” (2006), “Adulthood” (2008), and “Anuvahood” (2011), was clearly showing signs of exhaustion. Its formulaic narratives, industrial disinterest, and ethical discomfort among young black youth were becoming increasingly apparent.

At this point, the collective strength of this genre, represented by Ashley Walters, UK grime Artist Kano (cast as Sully), and his presence together, seemed to convey an honesty and maturity that was understood as the purpose of the drama’s exploration of the drug trade. It looks like it fulfills two separate rounds of Channel 4 as a public broadcaster.

On the one hand, this vision of the working-class, inner-city existence points back to Channel 4’s founding commitment to representational broadcasting, when the channel had a special remit to transmit minority racial identities via the BBC and ITV’s mistaken statements.

During these years, shows like “Desmonds” and “Black and Blue,” along with workshops for black films, had solidified Channel 4’s natural sphere of black British representation.
On the other hand, Top Boy represented a reflection of this commercialism that defined Channel 4 in the early 2000s.

At that time, the concept of ‘taking risks’ and ‘conflict’ that had infiltrated its initial commissioning processes was actively being engineered to increase audience awareness.

Reality television was gaining a new focus, and documentary filmmaking was gradually being appreciated as star-led ‘fact-based content.’

Top Boy was alive for the emerging subcultures of young people and the logic of the post-digital era, where reaching audiences through ‘on-demand’ was becoming increasingly feasible.

During its broadcast week, the first series of Top Boy garnered 1 million on-demand views and 123,000 tweets, making it the most tweeted-about program on Channel 4 since the broadcaster began analyzing social media.

It’s worth noting that Top Boy was released in 2011, just a few weeks after the English riots, which it tackled head-on.
This encompassed severe social inequality, budget-cutting measures that had severely impacted crucial services for young people, and the harsh policing of Black communities in Britain.

Looking back at the first season in this context, it’s astonishing how it managed to encapsulate the spirit of East London during the 2012 Olympics.

Similarly, the subsequent series will likely address the failed promises of legacy projects from the Games and partially break away from the historical

dependence on Black representation and Britain’s public service broadcasters with the rise of streaming platforms, redefining television and increasing diversity on screen.

Top Boy Recap:Dushane, Sully & Jamie’s Stories So Far

The intervention of Canadian hip-hop artist and Top Boy fan Drake was pivotal, as he reached out to producers of Top Boy to inquire about its dormant status, ultimately aiding in its return to Netflix in 2019.

In this new home, it came back to life. The show saw significant changes in its cast, an expansion in production values, and introduced a “box set” formula that extended its storytelling to 10-hour-long episodes.

This new promotional campaign brought with it unprecedented national print media presence and appearances on the front covers and pages of the country’s leading print media for Black actors.

It also ventured into the realms of drama, gaming, and fashion culture – examples include sponsoring Hackney Wick Football Club, a community-based production, or its collaboration with Drake’s Nike clothing line.

In the original series, the casting of Kano Robinson, seen in his role as Sully, makes it unique for Top Boy to have both talent and brand culture at the forefront in its Netflix incarnation.

However, with rappers Dave, Little Simz, Bashy, Giggs, Swizz Beatz, and Model Adwoa Aboah joining the cast, it now offers audiences an unparalleled access point, making it more than just scripted drama.

It has elevated Top Boy to a global cultural experience that includes insights into the housing estates of East London.

“In the entire series, the use of drill and grime music (complete with Bryan Eno’s stellar scoring) added an extra dimension to the impact of the show as a reference point for the rich multicultural tapestry of the black urban community.

Both are entirely born of a physical environment, as Top Boy has brilliantly illustrated – one example is how the series emphasizes its own sequence of characteristics.

Taking hold of Dalton’s African-Caribbean markets in East London and its black, family-centric residents, Top Boy insists on one side of a soft, economically and racially stratified Hackney that is being wiped away by a preferred image of Hoxton.

Keeping this in mind, the use of the Number One Café in London Fields holds particular significance, reacting to hikes in Hequeni prices, which Dushane first toured. It quickly becomes the headquarters for Dalton’s African-Caribbean market stalls and Homerton and Haggerston’s housing estates, offering a counter-image to the soft, economically and racially stratified Hackney.

Instead of being an ethical center for global black culture and entertainment on Netflix, it liberates itself from the backlash of price hikes in Hackney. Instead, of armed gang conflicts, road culture, and drug smuggling photography within it, the show strikes a delicate balance, incorporating themes of family, domestic violence, aging, and the search for meaning.
At the end of any black-famous film or drama series, many black-famous people understand the sense of curiosity about the future of those actors who have gained recognition and fame, some of whom they identify and relate to.

Will we see these actors again? And if so, in what kinds of roles? We are in a prolonged struggle for black screen representation, and despite the acclaim for Top Boy’s 12-year journey in young black acting, there is still a bias that black-famous actors in black urban dramas are just ‘playing themselves.’

This young black-famous actors’ 12-year cycle challenges preconceived notions about their talent and potential.
In this way, black-famous actors are given a rare opportunity to break out of their established frameworks of black urban reality – although they are certainly exceptions, and in the examples of Michael K.

Williams, Michael Ward, and Letitia Wright, Top Boy has innovated. Points of black stardom, and possibly new narratives for black film and television, can emerge – whether it relates to crime, the black death, or representing life in London’s housing estates or not.

Walters, in particular, has remained successful in casting Top Boy in the last decade by elevating his initial career work in such ways that benefit him and many others: working as an executive producer on his self-sustaining production outfit, SLNda, and on Top Boy; thus, emerging black-famous actors, production staff, creative abilities, and audiences. provide opportunities to further.

If nothing else, Top Boy’s latest series offers a critical but less glamorous participation in British film and television. The sense of authenticity, particularly in relation to black visual culture, predicts that things are the way they are, rather than how we want them to be.

The importance of Top Boy is that it challenges its listeners to face the reality of black futures while confronting black urban culture. Despite 12 years, it has not ended its cultural significance or its relevance to young people, social and cultural trends, and topical concerns.

Every 18 months or more, for a few weeks, the series has allowed a concentrated period of activity, entertainment, celebration, and debate that is unprecedented for a black British episodic drama.

Seeing these paths in which the urban film/TV genre has historically been marginalized and diminished, we should understand Top Boy not just as a forced black cinema drama but as a historical form of black visual culture that guarantees a central place in British film and television history.”

Dushane Challenges Jamie’s Loyalty:

In the closing chapters of Season Three, we witness Jamie (Michael Ward) facing a daunting 10-15 year prison sentence for possession of firearms at the culmination of Season Three, orchestrated with some help from Dushane and Jaq’s (Jasmine Jobson), and their friend Ats (Kenyon Cook).

It was Ats who facilitated the planting of evidence in Jamie’s apartment. As the months race forward, it becomes evident that Jamie is willing to accept Dushane’s offer to work for him in exchange for clearing his name, which requires Jamie to engage in some shady dealings involving video footage.

Returning home, Jamie finds his relationships with his younger brothers, Haron (Hope Ikpoku) and Stephen (Araloyin Oshunremi), particularly strained, especially with Stephen, who harbors resentment towards Jamie.

Meanwhile, Dushane seeks a way out of the drug trade and stumbles upon a lucrative investment opportunity in Sumahouse Estate Development Project, funded by the drug earnings.

This sparks further tensions between him and his mother due to his cousin D’wayne’s (Kimo Armstrong) death, a result of a debt that Dushane is responsible for in Jamaica.

However, before Dushane or Jamie can truly address their domestic issues, a significant problem arises when Emilio, a Spanish drug supplier, decides to cut ties with the criminal world, promising his dying wife he’d leave the criminal life behind. Furthermore, when they arrive at the Spanish coast, their drug shipment often becomes a target for illicit scavengers.

Time is of the essence as Dushane and Lizzie (Lisa Dwan) intend to transport drugs from Morocco to Spain through the Moroccan-Moroccan police officer Sanchez.

Dushane embarks on a quest to find Sully, only to be told by Sully that he needs to confront his demons himself because “You can have the loot, but you’re not like me.” Thus, Dushane does what Sully says and puts an end to Jamie.

Meanwhile, Ats’ killer is on the loose, and after an extensive search for a mysterious girl, he’s directed towards Dexter (Micah Loubon). It turns out that Dexter was put up to kill Ats by K, Jamie’s best friend, but he didn’t go through with it.

With everyone closing in on the truth, and Dushane plotting to kill Ats’ murderer, K kills Dexter first. However, Dushane still holds K at bay, reminding him of the family he has, including his son, and that it’s enough to keep him in check.

Dushane solves the situation for now, but Sully forgets that he’s the same kid he used to be, and he yearns to become something. So when Jamie meets the man who used to supply Sully, Spanish law enforcement officer Joan Leone, he decides to strike a deal that would benefit him when handling Dushane’s end of the bargain.

If this isn’t bad enough for Dushane, he arrests arms and drug dealer Robin (Theo Ogundipe). However, when the police threaten Robin with a long prison sentence, he agrees to cooperate.

Thus, Dushane exacts his revenge on Sully, who can’t remember who did what. Dushane reminds him of where his family lives, including his young son, and that it’s enough to keep him in check.

Sully’s Descent:

 Season Three ends with Sully struggling to adapt to his new life. After killing Dreis (Sean Romulus) following a failed assassination attempt, and then losing his surrogate son and friend Jason (Ricky Smart), Sully decides to leave the world of crime behind and moves onto a canal boat.

He distances himself from the criminal life, communicating mainly with Jaq, who continues to provide him with regular updates on their illicit activities.

However, Sully’s world takes a dark turn when he’s brought back into the criminal fold through Lauren (Irene Kelleher), Peabody’s (Andre Flynn) niece.

Despite arranging a drug deal with Peabody’s former associates, the Peabodys are unhappy with the arrangement and begin threatening Lauren. Feeling trapped, Sully takes matters into his own hands, displaying his infamous violent streak by brutally attacking a gang member.

When Sully realizes that there’s no reason with them, he decides to take down the gang himself. Once again, things don’t go smoothly, and Sully finds himself captured by the gang.

Among the gang members, there is one who isn’t quite as alert as the others.
He underestimates Sully, resulting in a gripping fight scene that ends with Sully smashing a weight plate over the man’s head and warning the others to think rationally before things get too crazy. Once more, Sully doesn’t go down easily and is taken hostage by the gang.

Lizzie’s Vengeance:

In Season Three, Lizzie, driven by revenge, reveals the Z.T. gang’s secret to a rival gang after mistakenly believing that Lauren was responsible for informing them.

When Jake discovers that it was actually Lizzie who indirectly caused the attack on Summerhouse Estate, he brutally murders her, instructing her to leave and never returns—a decision ultimately enforced by Dushane to keep her away from the chaos.

When we meet Sezen in Season Four, she’s in Jakarta, pregnant and staying with her abusive boyfriend Curtis (Howard Charles), much to her disapproving sister Vee’s (Awa Birnin) dismay.

She initially asks her sister Jake to help bring her back to London, but when Jake hesitates, Sezen takes matters into her own hands. After persuading Curtis to agree to a shopping spree, she escapes to London in a taxi.

Upon her return to London, Jake hides her at his girlfriend Bex’s house. However, when Curtis arrives in London, trouble begins brewing. Curtis threatens violence, kidnaps Bex, and even steals their food, causing significant tension. Curtis tries to bring Sezen back, and Jake is ultimately forced to reveal the whole story to Sally, resulting in Sally and Vee agreeing to help Curtis in exchange for Curtis helping Jake.

But when Curtis threatens Jake with harm, Sally takes matters into her own hands and brings Jake to her psycho boyfriend’s house, where she repeatedly interrogates him before reluctantly agreeing to help Sally and Jake strike a deal with Curtis.

However, when Curtis threatens Jake with physical harm, Sally takes the matter into her own hands and brings Jake to her psycho-boyfriend’s house, where she repeatedly interrogates him before reluctantly agreeing to help.

Sally kills Jamie.

After Curtis kills Jake and Kat, it seems like everything is peaceful. We see that Larin and her baby are enjoying themselves with Jake and Jamie’s brothers since they have graduated from Haroun University.

Top Boy
Sally kills Jamie

But peace doesn’t last long after Top Boy, and it’s not the kind of peace that’s desired. Season Four concludes by echoing what Dushane had said at the start of the season, that “Larin is no psycho like Sally,” and Jamie’s death serves as proof.

As the series unfolds, Sully consistently expresses his lack of trust in Dushane and his doubts about Jamie, regardless of their shared history. Sully, with a heavy heart, betrays Dushane and ultimately, after witnessing Sully’s act of shooting Jamie in the chest and head, this may be a turning point for Sully in which he can integrate into the streets like his brother Jamie.

You can now watch all seasons of Top Boy on Netflix.

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