Subtle and mesmerizing in its depiction of the battle for a troubled teen's soul, David Makes Man may be the closest that Oprah Winfrey's network has yet come to achieving the sort of literary art she so admires.
Playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) digs deep into the mind and magical imagination of 14-year-old David (a remarkably composed Akili McDowell) in this semiautobiographical drama set in the South Florida projects.
Often lost in dreamy thought, the gifted David is torn between the prospect of academic empowerment at a demanding magnet school and more immediate responsibilities to his struggling single mom (Alana Arenas) and irrepressible younger brother (Cayden Williams).
Traumatized by loss and drawn against his will into the local drug trade, David leans on mentors, including a tough but caring teacher (the glorious Phylicia Rashad) and an enigmatic, poetic dealer (Isaiah Johnson). Meanwhile, he tentatively befriends an abused classmate (a moving Nathaniel McIntyre).
Coming-of-age tales are nothing new, but few have the authenticity and poignant power of David's.
David Makes Man, Wednesdays, 10/9c, OWN