Medicine for Melancholy begins with the morning after a one-night stand. It turns into a day freighted with political significance as well as sexual chemistry for Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Joanne (Tracey Heggins).
These two San Franciscans come from opposite poles of the African-American social spectrum. Supported by her white art-curator lover, who is in London, Joanne lives what Micah calls an "indie" life, which he considers anti-black. Micah is an African-American Firster, determined to promote what he considers to be authentic black experiences. When Joanne suggests a visit to San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, Micah counters with a trip to the Museum of the African Diaspora. Later, Micah explains how city planning and continued gentrification have forced the black population out of San Francisco.
As Kurt Vonnegut might have said, so it goes, right up to the moment when they eavesdrop on a Housing Rights Committee meeting about rent control. The director, Barry Jenkins, wants to capture the most natural and casual moments of his performers, but the writer, also Barry Jenkins, keeps getting in the way. Does Joanne feel she has denied a part of herself in neglecting her racial heritage? Is that why she is attracted to Micah?