'P-Valley' Showrunner Katori Hall on Why the Word 'Pussy' Was Censored

“I felt some type of way about it, but I did not want to block access to what I think is a groundbreaking show,” Hall tells TheWrap

Courtesy of Starz

Even for those not already familiar with Katori Hall’s stage play “Pussy Valley” about a Mississippi strip club, it’s not hard to guess what the first letter in her Starz series “P-Valley” really stands for. As creator, writer, showrunner and executive producer of the upcoming series set to debut Sunday, the title was the only sticking point she ran into with Starz during the show’s development.

“That was the only fight I got into,” she said with a laugh during a recent interview with TheWrap. “Starz was a great husband. You always have one fight with your husband, and that was the one.”

Hall explained that, initially, the network had been on board with the original “Pussy Valley” title… but then they ran into a speed bump in the road.

“The problem came up when Starz reached out preemptively to the carriers — Comcast, Time Warner — and asked them about placing the show on their platform. What came back was a resounding, No, we are not putting no show that got pussy in the title on our platform,” she said. “So, it ended up being a business decision. We did not want to create this amazing show that was breaking all these barriers and representing Black women in a unique and nuanced way to not be seen. I felt some type of way about it, but I did not want to block access to what I think is a groundbreaking show.

But rather than changing the title to a completely different phrase, Hall decided to keep the “P” intentionally in order to make a point.

“It was absolutely a way to show people we have been censored,” she said. “And that’s OK, because things that pertain to women tend to be censored, and they tend to be taboo. The fact that the show is set in a strip club is a taboo thing to do. It’s kind of a wink and a nod to the humor that I think is woven throughout the show. You know, it’s [supposed] to be ‘Pussy Valley,’ but for y’all folks clutching your pearls? We’ll call ourselves ‘P-Valley.’”

Hall also reflected on the unique timing of the show’s release, as across the nation, Black Lives Matter protests continue to take place months after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

It has always been important to tell the stories of Black women, queer folk, poor folk. It’s just that now, the world seems to be ready to listen,” she said. “As a Black woman, that’s the work that I’ve always been dedicated to putting out into the world, and I’m just grateful that in Hollywood right now people are demanding complicated and nuanced representations of the Black experience because we know what not having humanistic stories does to a people. The fact that we have inherited all these stereotypical images, it has made people not understand who we are as human beings. That we are worthy of respect, worthy of love, worthy of the right to breathe. So what I think storytelling does — it creates a moment to understand a group of people that people have dehumanized for centuries. “

“P-Valley” premieres Sunday, July 12 at 9/8c on Starz.








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