Tuesday, August 21, 2018

REVIEW: 'Love Is ___' - Nuri Makes Big Confessions to Yasir in Both the Past and Future in 'Love Is Engagement'

OWN's Love Is ___ - Episode 1.10 "Love Is Engagement"

An old flame wants to resurrect his romance with Nuri. Yasir finds a place to stay. Sean reveals something personal to Yasir. Nuri asks Yasir to marry him before she makes a shocking discovery about his script.

Nuri and Yasir have only known each other for six weeks. That's the amount of time that passes through this first season. It's not a whole lot of time because the show wanted to live in the little moments early on in a relationship. It feels like love even though both of them are constantly insecure about themselves and their relationship. They want things to be perfect and shiny. But they are still learning new things about each other every day. It's still heading in the right direction. And yet, it also feels like the show is forced into making a big decision regarding their relationship here solely because it's the season finale. They are forced into getting engaged with that immediately being called into question as well. It's a little ridiculous and follows a pattern that has been so pronounced throughout this season. There has simply been too much back-and-forth showcasing the dysfunction of this relationship. It's a dynamic the audience knows is going to last. But every episode was shaded in the same way with the same fights happen over and over again. Yes, that's very true to the start of any relationship. People are learning how to be with one another. But it didn't need to be the focus for so many conflicts over the course of this season. The show is telling the audience that everything is going to be okay between the two of them. As such, that could lead to little patience for the conflicts that come up in the early going. There is the sense that the two of them have grown across this season because of their relationship. But it still seems like they are picking the same fights as well with the series itself mostly just repeating the same plot beat over and over again. There's nothing really new that helps any given episode stand out even though there were some very emotional and well earned moments over the course of the season.

And now, that pattern is extending to the segments from the future as well. For the entire season, the wiser versions of Nuri and Yasir were sitting on a couch and telling their love story directly to the camera. The show never really explained if the sequences shown in the '90s are just dramatic reenactments of what happened all those years ago. If so, why would there be scenes with Angela, Norman, Ruby and Sean without Nuri or Yasir? They weren't the ones narrating the stories. Nuri and Yasir don't know everything that happened in the past. That mostly occurred so that the show itself could further develop its ensemble without needing some in the supporting cast to be solely defined through their relationships with either Nuri or Yasir. Of course, that makes it a pretty lazy and unnecessary plot device as well. Yes, there were moments over the course of the series were the wiser Yasir was able to articulate something better than his younger counterpart. But it was still just a tool to deliver a bunch of exposition so that things could just naturally develop in the timeline the narrative largely was set in. The show never went out of that studio to spend time with Nuri and Yasir as a successful couple in Hollywood. Maybe they didn't want to image what the future would look like. They wanted to live in the moment of this couple reflecting back on the beginning of their story. But now, that seems unlikely to continue because Nuri reveals something that Yasir didn't know about for all of these years. He has a reaction just like his younger counterpart in that he gets mad right away and storms out of the room. So, it's clear that is always going to be a component of his story which can also make it frustrating to see him as a good romantic match for Nuri. That's a little frustrating even though it teases more for Clarke Peters and Wendy Davis to do in the future.

All of this comes back to a new problem in Nuri and Yasir's relationship in the '90s that just comes out of the blue. It would be one thing if the show spent the finale talking about Nuri's revelation of being molested when she was a child. And yes, the show does offer a profound moment where Nuri is able to find the silver lining in that horrible thing that happened to her. It allowed her to have a personal and meaningful conversation with God. She has such a strong relationship with a higher power because she understands the comfort that can come from prayer. She may not be as outwardly expression as Yasir is with his faith. But she believes just as devoutly as he does in her own special way. That's a strong and moving conversation. It shows that she has dealt with what happened to her as a child. Yasir is trying to psychoanalyze her by saying that she's obsessed with keeping a straight and clean house because her life was so chaotic and destructive when she was a child. Yes, there may be some of that in her rationale for approaching life. But it's too simplistic an explanation that highlights how he mostly wants to force her into opening up to him even though she doesn't want to talk about her past. It's not because she can't say the words though. She is able to talk about what happened to her. She just doesn't see the point in unearthing all of it again. She is still moving forward with her life and trying to prove that she wasn't defeated because of what her stepfather did. Meanwhile, Yasir is still hiding in his tragedy. He is yet to tell Nuri how he was abused. He used that as a way to build a comforting connection with her. And now, he's just being quiet and wanting to make it all about her pain and how it is still hurting her as a form of deflection.

All of this highlights how Yasir still has so many issues that he needs to work out with his life. That makes him a problematic character. It's perfectly fine for characters to be flawed. But again, they are so glaring with him and so repetitive as well. He doesn't always understand the world around him or how to best communicate his intentions. Nuri is confessing to him that she doesn't want to live without him in her life. It's easy to interpret that as her saying she doesn't want him to move into this faraway apartment filled with potentially bad influences. However, Yasir takes it as a marriage proposal. That's an extreme reaction that Nuri gets caught up in as well because she just so happened to be proposed to by her old college boyfriend, Derek, who has since moved to New York. He comes back to town trying to win her back because he has been talking to Carol all of this time. Nuri's mother is even working against her relationship because she simply thinks Derek is a better guy than Yasir. She is able to see Yasir's good qualities. But she still stands up for her daughter first and foremost. This is just a way everyone around Nuri is trying to control her though. She gives herself so fully to Yasir because he's not trying to dictate the way she should live her life. Yes, he is furious if she doesn't call him once she reaches her destination or seemingly does something to push him away. He's quick to react as soon as things don't go his way. To him, it's the world's fault instead of his own. That's clearly something that he struggles with longterm. Nuri is a mess right now because she believes she has simply fallen for a fantasy instead of someone who is genuinely good for her. The audience could be worried about that as well if we weren't also seeing this story being depicted by the couple from the future who have turned out fairly well.

But Nuri and Yasir still get engaged. They are happy and excited about it too. They may be moving too fast but they don't want to deal with any of the bullshit in their lives. Of course, they are still filling their lives and relationship up with things that simply don't matter in the grand scheme of their lives. They are still being petty about certain things. Yes, it's awkward that Yasir spends the first night after getting engaged to Nuri away from her. He is back at Ruby's apartment cleaning out his stuff during the last night that she is allowing him to live there. That just proves how irresponsible he is. He was taking full advantage of this offer from Ruby even though he was staying with Nuri all of this time. He could have picked his stuff up at any time during the previous six weeks. He chose not to until the deadline. And then, he keeps interrupting her night of sex in her own apartment. That's not okay. He didn't tell her that he was coming over. She was just fully expecting to have the place to herself and see him in the morning. He changed the plans without checking with her first. And then, he starts a fight with her new boyfriend because he feels the need to protect her. He hasn't been protecting her in a long time. This business opportunity isn't even something they have discussed all that much. Ruby would probably be better with Yasir out of her life. She might be making mistakes. But she would be learning and growing from those mistakes as well. She doesn't need Yasir to save her. Meanwhile, Sean needs his best friend to encourage him to chase his dreams because no one else will. Those two relationships stand in such stark contrast. But they are both meaningful as well and highlight how Yasir struggles with listening to what people actually need. He struggles in that regard because he still hasn't processed all that has happened to him and the responsibilities he actually has in this world.

Some more thoughts:
  • Nuri has a major freakout because she finally reads one of Yasir's scripts and sees that the dialogue is the exact same as the pickup line confessing their love he used at the end of their first date. She believes she fell into a trope because he fooled her in a way that he long planned on using on women. This is dialogue he wrote before they met. Of course, it wouldn't be surprising if the show just explains that he just didn't update the date of the latest draft.
  • Nuri's big discovery about Yasir's script doesn't change her mind regarding Derek either. It seems like a possibility that she would over correct and get engaged with him even though he's a problematic guy for her as well. That doesn't happen. The show just wants the audience to be afraid that it could because she still doesn't trust Yasir despite everything they've gone through already.
  • Derek is just a very controlling guy. He is demanding that Nuri stop kidding herself and finally just get serious with him already. This comes after he completely disappeared from her life. He went to New York and she never heard from him. She had to break up with him through an email. And yet, he still thinks it's a good idea to just show up uninvited at her house with a ring wanting to get engaged with her. That's not okay in the slightest.
  • Nuri's big career moment happened last week with her first script being produced for Marvin. That means that not a whole lot of time is spent with her at work here. Yes, she talks with Angela there about the dilemma she faces with Derek. But that's mostly a moment that shows that the other writers are just goofing around and showing how immature they really are. But it's also that point in time in production where the writers don't have a lot left to do.
  • OWN has already renewed the drama for a second season. Overall, this was an okay debut year for the show. There is room for improvement. The show does have to focus on creating more of an interesting and consistent dynamic with Nuri and Yasir. If they get into a fight, then it should be with something that lasts longer than one episode. If they are a solid couple, then they should be good together while facing difficulties in their careers. There just needs to be a balance to ensure that things aren't repetitive.