Tuesday, July 24, 2018

REVIEW: 'Love Is ___' - Nuri and Angela Disagree Over Who Gets to Write the Next Episode in 'Supportive'

OWN's Love Is ___ - Episode 1.06 "Supportive"

Experiencing friction with Angela at work, Nuri confides what's going on to Yasir, who helps her keep things in perspective and her friendship with Angela.

Nuri and Yasir are officially dating now. In fact, it's already pretty serious. Of course, it's been serious throughout the entirety of the show because they were already professing their love for the other after their first date. But now, they are essentially living together. Yasir has moved into Nuri's house and is borrowing her car throughout the day. He is relying on a lot from her at the moment. She is the spark that gives his life purpose. Without her, he wouldn't have anything in his life to actually propel him forward. Sure, that's not always the best for Nuri. In fact, Yasir comes across as very controlling in the moment where he wants to dress her for the day. He believes his intentions are sweet and wholesome in wanting the world to see just how beautiful and sexy Nuri is. He wants them to see the woman that he has been fortunate enough to experience. And yet, he dresses her very inappropriately for work. Moreover, he's not even there to deal with the consequences. He's not showing off his woman to the world to show everyone just how lucky he is. He's doing this with the full expectation that he has his own things to do throughout the day. He's not going to work with her. Sure, she lets everyone on the writing staff know that she is dating someone new and he dressed her today. That explains why she came into work in her night gown and not a bra. She isn't embarrassed for the longest time. But she does ultimately go running to the wardrobe department in order to get something that can better cover herself up. She may go a little overboard with the course-correction. She opts for a full-on trench coat to stop the comments and stares. This is something that she has to deal with during her day. It's a direct consequence of her dating Yasir. It proves that the show is moving into the stage in their relationship where they are becoming a part of each other's worlds. They are meeting the friends and helping each other through the various problems they encounter at work.

Of course, so much of the story is still tilted towards Nuri's problems in the writers room. She's the one who has a job that she finds very exciting and fulfilling. She has impressed Norman and Marvin. She believes there is a bright future for her as a writer. She has this opportunity to shine. She wants to make the most of it out of fear that in a few short months she could easily be unemployed once more. She has climbed to the next step in life. She doesn't want to step down so that someone else is given their opportunity to succeed. It's her time to shine. It's a very selfish perspective to have. It's all told through this story of Nuri believing she would be getting a writing credit on the next episode only for the contracts to dictate that Angela writes it all alone. Norman over-promised what his writers could do with this season. Yes, they are all very excited in bringing more focus on the female character on the sitcom. But at the end of the day, the writers are still expecting things to be broad and funny. That's not exactly where Angela shines the most. And yet, she is willing to put in the work and deliver something unexpected because that's what she was hired to do. Nuri still has such high and ambitious thoughts about winning an Emmy for her first writing credit simply because they have this opportunity. That has always seemed unlikely simply because it's an ongoing battle with the writers and the star to actually produce the content they want to do. It's such a fascinating debate. One that ultimately pivots so much around Nuri and Angela's relationship and how Yasir now factors into that.

Nuri and Angela are a team at work. And yet, they aren't writing partners. They bonded through this job because they happened to be the only women in the room. They are fortunate in that regard because most writers rooms of the time were perfectly content just having one women - with that still being the case on a number of shows twenty years later. This show has two. And it's not a simple case of them bonding because they need to work with someone who shares the same perspective as them. Nuri and Angela are different in a lot of ways. Nuri actually gets into this job and has fun during the tapings. Angela is just bidding time until she can move into a dramatic writers room. That's the kind of material she wants to be writing at the moment. She wants to be challenged. She doesn't want to be stuck during derivative comedy for multiple years. But this new opportunity does present itself. Norman is willing to give Nuri and Angela this episode solely because they are women. He believes that the women in the room can write the female character. That's all that he's asking them to do even though he's also hopeful about the network liking the episode and turning it into a full-blown spinoff. He still holds those aspirations. And yet, it's also clear that he is not a great boss because he just wants to keep things simple. He'd rather keep the star happy instead of trying to listen to the idea that his writer is delivering. It's not even revolutionary for Angela to pitch a cancer storyline. That too could be seen as formulaic. But at this moment in time, Norman and Marvin just want a comedy to be funny. They don't feel the responsibility to be anything more than that. So even when Nuri and Angela speak up, they aren't heard. That only further proves just how destructive this job can actually be.

But it's also fascinating for there to be newfound tension between Nuri and Angela. They support each other and would never break the code they have made for themselves. They have each other's backs no matter what. And yet, Angela wants to take this opportunity as her time to shine. Yes, the two of them could craft a kickass script that impresses Norman and Marvin. That's what Norman is expecting. But Angela understands that this is just another cruel aspect of the business that requires women to put each other down and feel competitive with one another. She was savvy enough to get it into her contract that she has to write two episodes per season. That was the deal she and the sitcom signed with each other. It's something that Norman has to honor. He has the pressure to do so even though he wants Nuri to shine as well. Nuri is still just learning the realities of this business. She is disappointed and angry that Angela doesn't want to share the credit with her. She may say that she's fine but so much about her current behavior ultimately pivots around this one issue. She is lashing out and being cold to her friend because of this. She wants Angela to know that she's hurting because she may never get an opportunity like this again. There's no guarantee that she will be hired by the show again next season. She has a connection with Norman. But that still hasn't led anywhere meaningful for her. Of course, it's still such a rousing moment when Nuri speaks up in support of Angela when the male writers just want to put down her idea as being too dramatic. They just want to be simple comedy writers who make the star happy. They don't want to rock the boat. Nuri sees the value in doing so even though it completely goes over Norman's head. He's too busy thinking about the next zinger he can deliver to his staff.

The tension between Nuri and Angela is further complicated by the fact that Angela and Keith seemingly go out on a date. It doesn't seem like something they planned or wanted to explore. It's just something that happened because they were at the same place at the same time. But Yasir and Nuri are there as well. Yasir gets to meet Angela and Keith. He is able to understand these people who are important to Nuri's life. Previously, he just saw Keith as his competition. But now, he has won and is able to see Keith as another person who needs to be supported in this business. It's a connection made that could be valuable to Yasir's career even though Keith doesn't have a whole lot of power at the moment. Things could still happen though. But all of this also highlights that Nuri isn't a perfect human being either. She says some very homophobic things about Angela dying from HIV because of who Keith is. She doesn't think that it's right that Keith is lying to her best friend. Yasir is able to calm her down in saying just how ill-informed she actually is and that it's not her choice to tell Angela the truth. She knows this secret about Keith. It's private and personal to him. It's ultimately his decision to tell people. She can't force him out of the closet if he doesn't want to go. She can't interfere in the lives of her friends even though she wants to stop them from making mistakes. In that moment, that makes a lot of sense to her. It only further endears Yasir to her. He only just met her friends. But he already understands their importance in Nuri's life and that she shouldn't do anything to potentially compromise that. It's sweet while showing that things can still be loving and charming between the two of them.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Supportive" was directed by Karen Gaviola with teleplay by Jerron Horton and story by Jerron Horton & Will Catlett.
  • Will Catlett plays Yasir and also gets a contribution credit for the formation of this episode. That's really fascinating. It proves that the show has also cast people in the lead roles who have the same aspirations as the characters. Yasir wants to be noticed in Hollywood. And now, Catlett is a leading man who is helping with the writing of the show. That's a huge achievement even if it's just a "story by" credit.
  • It's lame how the show just completely blows past the fact that Nuri and Yasir are now breaking her rule of having sex in her house. She didn't want to be intimate with any man there until she knew he was going to be her husband. Of course, the audience has that clarity. But a week ago, it was a big deal that they were having sex outside in the rain. And now, it's just a complete nonissue. That's a little lackluster.
  • How is Ruby going to keep being an ongoing presence on the show if Yasir has now essentially moved out of her apartment? He has gone from living with one woman he was dating to another one. It's happened so quickly for him. He was making plans for the future with Ruby as well. It was a big deal that Nuri met Ruby last week. But now, it seems like she is being phased out completely from the show because she has no importance.
  • Keith has a scene at the bar where he seems to be hit on by another guy. This is an aspect of himself that he has probably never explored before. He knows that he's gay but he isn't willing to admit it to the world just yet. This guy is able to describe him perfectly as someone who needs to remain in control at all times. And then, Angela just presents as a convenient excuse to get this guy to go away. But it should be interesting to see if he stays away.
  • It's ridiculous that Nuri has to read out loud while watching a silent film. Sure, it's once again Yasir making the moment more about himself because he enjoys the craft of old silent movies. Nuri has never really experienced them. But her talking is also just a way to get her to notice that Angela and Keith are also at the theater and are probably on a date. Of course, neither Keith nor Angela do a great job in explaining that it isn't.