Showrunner Katori Hall is exploring the pandemic through the strip club

Season one of P-Valley, the hit Starz show about women working in a Mississippi strip club, landed during the summer of 2020 when the world was embroiled in the beginning of a seemingly never-ending pandemic and the issue of racial injustice became a global conversation.

While many television writers have chosen to opt out of pandemic storylines, P-Valley creator Katori Hall decided to document that grim time in history in the second season premiering June 3.

“Being an artist who is Black and a woman, the virus also exposed a more rampant virus, which was racial injustice,” Hall says. “This season allowed me to dig down deep and explore all these issues.”

P-Valley is about more than stripping—it’s about a community of Black people and women who use their creativity to forge their own opportunities so they can survive in a world that seeks to limit their joy. As these beloved characters struggle—now in the face of COVID-19—it’s not just their money that’s at stake, but their livelihoods as well.

In addition to her title as P-Valley’s creator, writer, showrunner, and director, Hall is also an accomplished playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for drama last year for her play The Hot Wing King.

Fast Company spoke to Hall about the new season of P-Valley, transitioning from theater to television, and creating opportunities for female directors.

My writing was very much inspired by it. I could not not write about one of the biggest historical events of my lifetime. Also the strip club is a live performance, and I wanted to explore the impact that a virus would have on a business that was based on gathering.

The economic impact for everyone worldwide has been tremendous and incredibly detrimental. These women were already scraping and struggling last year. It felt like the perfect place to explore and see someone who works in a club that’s in the midst of this current moment in history.

Yeah, strip clubs are kind of like the hotbed of our culture. Exactly. Dancers know everything. They knew a recession was coming before anybody else did!

Even in the first season, this theme of resilience and making a way out of no way was something that I think we imparted upon our audience. But I feel like in season two, it’s a given that these folks are going to figure out how to survive.

What I think most people don’t acknowledge about survivors is about how much love they have in their heart for not only themselves but the people they’re fighting for. This season really peeled back all the layers for every single person in the show.