Yo fam, if you ain’t seen “Small Axe” on the BBC, directed by the visionary Steve McQueen, you’re sleeping on a masterpiece. This series is a whole vibe, taking us through the lives of our Caribbean fam in London from the late ’60s to the early ’80s.
The series is in five films, each one dropping a different story about our people’s hustle and heart in the UK. And that name, “Small Axe,” comes straight from a Jamaican saying that Bob Marley flipped into a banger, reminding us that we’ve got the power to chop down the big trees of oppression.
Why Watch “Small Axe”?
If you haven’t streamed “Small Axe” yet, what are you doing? This series is lit. It’s a whole celebration and a history lesson, all rolled into one, with Steve McQueen showing us why he’s one of the greats. So, get on that, and let’s keep the conversation going. Because when we talk about where we’ve been, we can get clear on where we’re headed – together.
- Black History: This series shines a light on the real ones who shaped our fight and our future.
- Black Excellence: With stars like Letitia Wright, Shaun Parkes, and John Boyega, the talent is through the roof.
- Culture on Blast: From the beats to the eats to the threads, “Small Axe” is a celebration of everything West Indian in Britain.
- Steve McQueen is the Truth: The man behind the camera is crafting stories with the kind of depth that gets the whole world talking.
How to Watch “Small Axe”
You can catch this series on BBC iPlayer if you’re in the UK, or on Amazon Prime Video in other spots. The films are short enough to binge but rich enough to marinate on, one at a time.
Small Axe Episodes List:
The series is five films deep: Mangrove, Lovers Rock, Red, White and Blue, Alex Wheatle, and Education. These are all directed by Steve McQueen, the dude who made “12 Years a Slave.” The project puts the focus on the West Indian community in London from the ’60s to the ’80s and does it with finesse. “Small Axe” is all about that power people have when they stand up against the big dogs – just like that Bob Marley jam tells us.
So we kick off with “Mangrove,” and it’s the real story about the Mangrove Nine. This group of black activists had mad courage, going up against cops who tried to shut down their Caribbean spot in Notting Hill.
After they marched against police harassment, they ended up in court fighting riot charges. This flick shows their battle, how they shook the system, and got a judge to admit the Met Police had some racist vibes going on.
With dope acting from Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright, “Mangrove” hits you with that raw truth about what community strength can do.
2. Lovers Rock
Now, we simmer down a bit with “Lovers Rock.” It’s less about the struggle and more about vibin’ at a house party circa early ’80s. The joints’ soundtrack is all about that smooth, romantic reggae and reliving those moments when our folks just found love and joy even when society wasn’t on our side. Trust me, the way this film is shot is pure art—makes you feel like you’re right there, swaying to the music.
3. Red, White and Blue
Number three, “Red, White and Blue,” is all about Leroy Logan, a young black man who went from forensics into the Met Police trying to stir up some good change. But yo, changing a system that’s set in its ways is heavy.
John Boyega plays Logan and brings the heat, showing what it’s like when the community you’re trying to help is looking at you sideways. This film’s got layers, talking about police racism and the weight of family expectations.
4. Alex Wheatle
In the fourth episode, we get “Alex Wheatle.” This brother’s story is intense—went from a brutal group home to finding peace and purpose in music and books. When the Brixton Uprising breaks out, Alex’s story goes from zero to a hundred real quick. This one is all about finding out who you are and staying strong when life comes at you hard.
The last episode of the “Small Axe” series, “Education,” is a real eye-opener, y’all. It’s all about how back in the ’70s, the British education system was sleeping on Black kids, sidelining us like we weren’t meant for the regular classroom. They got this 12-year-old, right? And they try to play him by labeling him “special needs,” just ’cause of the color of his skin.
This wasn’t just him, though—it was a whole system set up to push us to the back of the line. But peep this: it’s more than just a history lesson. It’s a call to action, a reminder that we’ve always had to fight to get that knowledge. “Education” ain’t just a film; it’s a movement, telling us we gotta keep pushing for every young Black mind out there. This is our story, our struggle, and our triumph. And it’s about time the world knows what’s up.
Cultural and Historical Context
Listen up, ’cause “Small Axe” ain’t just spinning stories for the sake of drama. This series is giving us the whole picture of what our West Indian folks went through in Britain. It’s like looking through a window back in time, seeing the hustle, the resilience, and yeah, the struggle against some real tough racism and injustice. But don’t get it twisted—it’s not all about the pain. This series is a celebration, y’all. It’s about the life, the beats, the soul, and the wins of our people.
And peep this—the timing? Couldn’t be more on point. We’re living in days when everybody’s talking about race, diversity, and all that history that’s been swept under the rug, not just in the UK but all over the world. “Small Axe” is dropping knowledge on the historical roots of the stuff we’re still dealing with today, putting the Black British experience up on the screen like a work of art.
Each flick in the series is a thread in this dope tapestry, showing off the vibrancy of the West Indian community. We’re talking about the kind of vibrancy that comes from our music—those reggae rhythms that get your head nodding and your heart pumping. It’s the kind of vibrancy that’s in our food, our fashion, and our fierce spirit. And let’s not forget the triumphs, ’cause despite all the barriers, our people have been breaking through before MLK day and shining bright even before Malcolm or MLK changed the world.
“Small Axe” is here to remind us where we’ve been, light up where we are, and inspire us to take charge of where we’re going.
Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” is more than a series—it’s a whole movement. It’s about fighting the good fight and showing love for where we come from. It made us think, feel, and get into the groove of our history. It’s a straight-up essential watch looking to get schooled on Black British history and the British Caribbean experience and a testament to the enduring spirit of a resilient community that fought for its rightful place in British society.
So when you’re ready to binge something real, make sure “Small Axe” is on that list.