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TV & Film

‘The Strays’: A Mind-Changing Psychological Thriller You Have to See to Believe

A 2023 Netflix movie featuring a light-skinned Black woman and how her life turns upside down when her two worlds collide.

The Strays (2023) poster
Image: Netflix

Throughout the movie, I felt an uneasiness that never stopped till the end. This movie made me see things from different perspectives. From the mother’s to her children’s, and how a choice can change everything.

This film by Nathaniel Martello-White has received lots of hate and love for the storytelling and plot. “The Strays” tells the story of a biracial woman who abandons her two children to pursue a better life. She beliefs that the white community will bring her what her black did not, prosperity and happiness.


A mixed-black and white- woman named Cheryl escapes her life in the black community to live a life of a rich woman in the suburbs. She leaves her black children, husband and sister to pursue a new life that will, supposedly, make her happy.

Cheryl changes her name to Neve and goes to a white community, where she marries a white man – Ian – and grows into a woman of class. They both have two children, Mary and Sebastian, from which she hides her true self. Neve covers her hair with wigs to hide her blackness from the rest of the world, including herself.

In this picture Cheryl is having tea with a friend just told her that Cheryl is practically one of them. She is referring about her race and how she doesn't act black.
Credit: Netflix

The story follows the life-changing experience she experienced and how the children she abandoned go back to her to be a family again.

Cheryl’s black kids-Carl and Dione-want to be with their mother once again after 18 years of their abandonment. But, they never get the happy ending they wanted. After the neglect from their mother, they experienced trauma and abandonment issues that led them into becoming monsters.


The story traces a journey from abandonment to fulfillment, then to resentment, and finally to abandonment once again. From the start, we see the unhappiness in Cheryl’s eyes and how she does not want to live like a black person anymore. She would watch TV programs with rich white people, which she wanted to be part of. Her dream was primarily to be happy and have the life she always wanted, even if she had to leave all her life behind, including her children.

Cheryl turned into Neve. She believed in white privilege, and how her life could have changed if she had just acted white. Everyone could think that the racism shown in the movie was from white people, but in this case, it came from a black woman. A black woman that was discriminating into her own race.

Racism Towards Her Own People

Why does Cheryl turn into such a different person? Does she just want to be accepted? Happy? Or was she just too afraid to live her life like the people around her?

Cheryl doesn’t feel like she belongs in a life with chaos, she likes to have everything in control, but when she explodes you can see her true self. Her ambition, her frustration, and her nasty side that will make anyone uncomfortable. The way she talks, the way she always has her head up and wants everything to be perfect, even though she isn’t perfect herself.

The start and end of the movie. Cheryl sees herself in the mirror for the first and second time as a goodbye to herself.
Credit: Netflix

She tries to be someone else by forgetting who she was, but that is not how someone grows. Cheryl thinks that becoming Neve will make her white in some sense, but with black people close to her she feels like she is back in that place being Cheryl, someone she wants to forget for her good.

She acknowledges her black heritage, but does not want that life to begin with.

White Privilege

The white privilege in the movie is something we don’t mostly see because only two communities are being compared, which are very far from each other. But, there is always this motion of richness and empowerment when talking about the white people in the film, and dark and poor with the black.

At the start of the movie Cheryl talks with her sister telling her all the work she has done and how life feels stuck. She wants more. That is what she always wanted through the film, more of everything. More money, more love, more appreciation for who she is and what she can do.

Cheryl is talking on the phone with her sister telling her she wants a better life.
Credit: Netflix

Final Thoughts

Cheryl always gives a final look to herself before escaping and becoming someone else. In the movie she looks at herself in two occasions, when she leaves Carl and Dione when they were kids, and when she leaves Sebastian and Mary together with Dione and Carl as adults. Who knows who she is going to be the next time, but I think we all know it may not end well.

If you have an interest in watching this movie, I suggest you check “‘The Strays’: Meet the Cast of the Psychological Thriller” in Tudum. There you can learn more about the characters and the actors that bring them to life.

There are many terrifying movies that will change your perspective in life that you should check. What would you do if you could communicate with ghosts from a black phone to escape from your death.

I'm a Journalism sophomore student at Miami Dade College. I like to write, read, paint and do many other things in general. I wish to become more than I am today and never stop improving and learning new things. I like giving my honest opinion about almost anything, and I will deliver my truth, always.


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