The final season is out now and Jaq’s arc will have viewers hooked

BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGES BY NETFLIX

For five seasons (two on Channel 4 and three on Netflix), Top Boy has been a crime drama that has hooked viewers through its adrenaline-pumping scenes, political plot lines and the masterful acting delivered by its cast.

For the uninitiated, Top Boy follows the lives of drug dealers, gangs and those living in the housing estates of East London. The characters strive to forge ahead despite the odds stacked against them. For me, a stand-out performance is Jasmine Jobson’s portrayal of Jaq, a drug dealer who is a fiercely loyal friend and sister. She’s also a Black British lesbian, a true rarity onscreen. And what’s even rarer, is that her queerness is not the focus of her arc, but her LGBTQIA storylines are still treated with care.

And yes, we’ve had Stud Life’s JJ, but for the most part, when it comes to onscreen representation of masculine-presenting Black lesbians this has mostly come from across the pond through US shows such as Twenties, Master Of None and The Wire. So Jaq being a central role within one of Netflix’s most popular shows has a significant impact.

In season four, Jaq sadly experienced many lesbian and queer women’s worst fear. She’s walking home with her date Becks (Adwoa Aboah) and the two share a kiss. This is a moment that should’ve been a beautiful memory for the two, but it is interrupted by a hostile group of lads who attack the women.

Watching a hate crime play out onscreen is truly harrowing, especially for those who feel seen by the characters. But this was an important portrayal of the realities of navigating the world as Black queer women. It opened important conversations in the home. Queer women often have their relationships sexualised by strangers in public. But with this being one of Netflix’s most popular shows, and having a huge audience of young people, it hopefully helped influence the way its audience interacts with queer women they come across in real life.

With this fifth season being the final instalment of the show, there was a lot of ground to cover in order to tie up all the loose ends throughout the series. And with a shorter six-episode runtime, it made for a fast-paced viewing experience to see what fates awaited each character. I was relieved to see Jaq’s arc was given the care and depth I had hoped for.

Jasmine Jobson as Jaq in Top Boy. Cr. Ali Painter/Netflix

While the series follows the intertwining lives of a large array of characters, four characters – Dushane, Sully, Jaq and Stefan – take centre stage this time around, with Jaq arguably being at the heart of the plot. As tensions rise and devastating events take place, Jaq is forced to question everything about her life and the world around her.

Last season, we got to see Jaq’s soft side come out whenever she was around Becks, who managed to break through Jaq’s hard exterior. And in this final chapter, we get to see Jaq at her most vulnerable. She has so much to lose, but also so much to fight for.

Season five is very political, with the plot exploring issues surrounding the deportation of citizens and the characters’ tense relationship with the London Met. At one point, Jaq plays a key role in organising the residents of the Summerhouse estate in their protest against the deportation of her best friend Kieron. When Dushane questions why she’s doing so, as a drug dealer, it is once again made clear that Jaq is many things, but none of these things define her.

In this race against the clock of a finale, audiences will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see what fate awaits Jaq and those she cares about. It’s a gripping watch from start to finish, and this is a finale that will stay with you long after the end credits roll.

Top Boy season three is now streaming on Netflix.

@niccrosara

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