‘Black Cake’ Showrunner and Author Discuss Finale Ending and Multiple Season Hopes

“When I pitched it, I pitched three seasons,” says showrunner Marissa Jo Cerar

Mabel (Sonita Henry), Benny (Adrienne Warren) and Byron (Ashley Thomas), shown. (Photo by: James Van Evers/Hulu)

Spoilers for the series as a whole ahead.

Hulu’s “Black Cake” mixes together a murder mystery and a generational family drama, and while the series revolves around the titular dessert, it turns out that the murder of Little Man Henry by poison occurred through alcohol and not the traditional Caribbean fruit cake that was served at Covey’s (Mia Isaac) wedding.

Covey Lyncook had big plans to become a swimmer and eventually leave her Caribbean island home to make something of herself, but her father Lin (Simon Wan) racked up too much debt with the sinister Clarence “Little Man” Henry (Anthony Mark Barrow), who demanded payment in the form of marriage to Lin’s daughter. Despite Lin gambling Covey’s life away, someone managed to poison Little Man at the wedding reception, setting Covey’s life on a third, entirely different trajectory. She leaves behind the layers of her true life story for her children Byron (Ashley Thomas) and Benny (Adrienne Warren) as audio recordings on a flash drive after she has died from cancer.

“One of the things that made me really excited to pitch the adaptation is I wanted to change points of view and repeat the same scene in multiple episodes to clear out the suspects. At the top of that, Covey’s a suspect, Bunny’s a suspect, Pearl’s a suspect, Lin is a suspect, Gibbs is a suspect,” showrunner Marissa Jo Cerar told TheWrap. “Episode after episode, we return to the wedding from a different character’s perspective, and we either clear them or we put more suspicion upon them. By the end of season one you will know, you will see who killed Little Man and you will understand how all these other things have happened, how they all came together and who knew what and who didn’t know.” 

Even author Charmaine Wilkerson, who served as executive producer on the show’s first season, didn’t know who the culprit would be right away as she wrote the book.

“I did not set out to write a novel, but at a certain point, I realized I was writing a novel and when the black cake popped up in the story because there are Caribbeans and black cake is a traditional Caribbean fruitcake, I realized it would be a story, it would have the name black cake in it and I pretty much saw the whole thing,” she said “I did not know who had committed the murder right away. I didn’t worry about it because what really mattered was why was someone interested in doing this. The fact that more than one person was interested in doing this, what the consequences would be of that terrible event.”

“One day I was in the kitchen, doing whatever I do in the kitchen, not making black cake, and all of a sudden it came to me, ‘That’s exactly how it happened.’ I’m just there chopping something and thinking [gasps] it’s as if I saw it like a screen scene, but in my head,” Wilkerson added. “And I ran back to the computer and typed it out. I understood that everything I had learned about the person up to that point, had helped me to understand who would do this and how they would do this.”

Covey (Mia Isaac) and Bunny (Lashay Anderson) in “Black Cake”(Photo by: James Van Evers/Hulu)

Covey’s best friend Bunny (Lashay Anderson) turned out to be the one who slipped the poison into Little Man’s drink that night. Her narration of the events revealed that Pearl had obtained the poison, and in the book, the color of the frosting on the cake throws off the reader to think it might be in the confection. Bunny (whose older self is portrayed by CCH Pounder) triumphantly claims that it was easy for a “clumsy” girl to get the job done.

“That doesn’t mean that the story’s over. It’s just that particular storyline is made very clear by the end of the first season,” Cerar said. “When I pitched it, I pitched three seasons. There of course could be more or less. It depends if people watch the show. There’s so much story. I mean, it’ll be very clear when you see the finale that we’re opening it up for more story because the way we structure the series is different than the way the book is structured — as most, adaptations are. But her story, Mabel’s, we’ve barely scratched the surface of her journey in season one, and her story is so rich, and I’m so excited to give it its due in a proper season two if we get a season two.”

Mabel Martin (Sonita Henry) was conceived out of rape by one of Covey’s bosses, and Covey had to give her up for adoption, which at first she was willing to do. By the time she gave birth, Covey wanted to keep her daughter, but it was too late because she had made a deal with a religious order to give the baby a better life if they housed her while she carried the pregnancy. Mabel’s existence doesn’t come about until Episode 4, and even then, Covey doesn’t find her until she has grown into an adult, white-passing woman doing well for herself in the world of food.

“One way to read the book is this is a lovely family drama and there’s a little murder mystery in there and you sort of forget about it for a while and then you come back to it. The show is the same in that we don’t address the murder in every single episode. In a majority of episodes we do, but there are so many other secrets and mysteries,” Cerar said.

“I didn’t want to tell the audience in episode one that they have a sister because when you’re sitting and reading a book and you’re waiting for them to be like ‘Okay, find the sister,’ you can sort of suspend your disbelief, but when you’re watching two people onscreen you’re gonna be like, ‘Where’s the sister? They don’t call? Why are you listening to the rest of the tapes?’ Structurally it was just more fun for the middle of the season to be like ‘Oh wait, I thought I was watching a show about this murder mystery and why has Benny been gone for eight years and how Covey became Eleanor,” she continued.

“‘Oh, there is a daughter that I don’t know about. Okay.’ That to me was why I got so excited to pitch it as a series rather than a movie because there were so many cliffhangers that could really draw audiences in. So it was a decision made immediately. I was like ‘I will not be revealing this any earlier than the middle of the show.’ I really want the audience to sit up, to pay attention, to lean in and to be surprised and in every episode.”

All episodes of “Black Cake” are now streaming on Hulu.

Comments

9 responses to “‘Black Cake’ Showrunner and Author Discuss Finale Ending and Multiple Season Hopes”

  1. Michele Cohen Avatar

    Omg!!!
    Absolutely excellent
    I could watch it over and over again. Such interesting characters..
    I love this series…

  2. Nancy Avatar
    Nancy

    I need several seasons. I need to know Mabel’s biological fathers story. I need the story behind her son, Gio’s father. I need to know what happened to Covey’s mom. I have so many questions!

  3. Aidara Avatar
    Aidara

    This show must be picked up for a second season as it contains a balance of all the ingredients of an engaging story. Furthermore, I enjoyed watching this show because I was both entertained and educated. I was better for having watched because I learned a bit about the Chinese experience in Jamaica; Caribbean womens’ experiences in the UK; and the nuances of Jamaican culture. Moreover, this show highlights and humanizes a population that isn’t often seen on TV on its own terms. Yet, this is a universal story to which anyone can relate and initiate conversation
    I am sure Hulu execs have the sense to greenlight another edition of good TV.

  4. Nicole Avatar
    Nicole

    This series left me wanting more, and it keeps my attention 😍 I can’t wait to see if Mabel wants to know more about her Dad, and what happens in the kids life now they know the truth about their Mom. Great work!

  5. Debra Avatar
    Debra

    I really love this movie, I was glued to screen at every episode. Please bring more seasons to answer questions don’t leave us hanging to long.

  6. DeeDee Avatar

    Finally…..A Series I Can’t Wait To Watch!!! I Neeeeeeed Season Two, Please!!!

  7. Debbie Avatar
    Debbie

    On my second watching of the series and I still can’t get enough. I have so many questions. There has got to be another season, or two depending on what other questions come up. This is soooo good!!! It’s like an addiction, I NEED more!!!!

  8. Brittany Avatar
    Brittany

    This was hands down one of the best shows I have ever watched truly a masterpiece I need multiple seasons please!!! Thank you 

  9. Sheri Sycz Avatar
    Sheri Sycz

    There are so many questions about the characters that we need to know about…. I love this series and we have to have a season 2!!!!!
    I love this so much, it’s so diverse and spans across so many cultures and traditions and backgrounds… I want to know more about what happened to Mabel’s father and the secret she’s keeping from her son, also what happened to Mathilda and what happened to Coveys father Lin after he was left alone……season two please!!!!

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