Tuesday, August 7, 2018

REVIEW: 'Love Is ___' - Yasir Is Surprised by How His Mother Is Raising His Son in 'Rose (Going Home)'

OWN's Love Is ___ - Episode 1.08 "Rose (Going Home)"

Nuri and Yasir visit Yasir's son Deonte, but things quickly turn volatile when Yasir questions how his son is being raised. Angela receives an unexpected professional opportunity.

In the very first episode of Love Is, it was revealed that Yasir had a son. It was a tool Ruby used in an effort to control Yasir by saying that no woman could truly love him with the baggage that is attached with him. He was essentially an absent father. That was one of the latest qualities that made him seem like a lackluster character. He wasn't able to get anything going for him in his life. He was building this loving connection with Nuri. It is a meaningful relationship. But he's also relying on her for so much support - both emotionally and financially. The two of them are growing as a couple. This is a journey for them. They want to make it work. They are putting in the effort to ensure that it succeeds. The audience has the clarity that it will all work out in the end. But there are still a number of hurdles that they have to clear. As such, it was inevitable that Yasir's son and the life he grew up in would appear. It needed to happen at some point this season. It's not something that could be put off way into the future. The show told the audience about it in the first episode. Nuri became aware of the truth shortly after that. They are a loving couple. If the show was going to suggest that Deonte was an important fixture of Yasir's life, then it needed to show it at some point this season. This trip home is very illuminating for Nuri and the audience. Nuri has constantly found herself challenged by Yasir and needing to help him get his life together. She is so caring and supportive of his dreams. She's not frightened by his anger. She wants to encourage him and help him dream big. She wants to offer solutions. That's simply who she is. She is a problem solver who takes such joy out of her work and life. She enjoys this relationship. She understands the benefits. But it has its fair share of challenges as well. She needs to be fully aware of them. She needs to know what's important to him and what he is doing to ensure that the future is brighter for him and his family. He can't simply be dependent on the strong women in his life.

Right now, Yasir is living with Nuri while his mother, Rose, is caring for his son. If he didn't have them, he would be homeless and not trying to live his dream of making it in Hollywood. He still hasn't made a whole lot of progress in that regard. Yes, Nuri has been reading his scripts. But she hasn't actually given them to anyone. She hasn't shared them with the world in the hopes of him getting employed somewhere. He found a job elsewhere. It's just a bookstore. That's the first step on his journey. It's just a small step forward. It's not going to build to anything quickly. It's not going to change the lives of his family back home. They don't even know everything that is going on in his life. They still believe he is struggling with Ruby. He and his mother are basically talking every day. They have such a close relationship. Wiser Nuri is able to articulate it so well in saying that there is a string that connects their hearts. They are so many different things to each other. And yet, they still aren't being completely honest with each other. Rose isn't telling her son just how difficult it is to care for his son all of the time. Yasir isn't telling his mother that he was homeless and now loving with a different women. Throughout their many conversations on the phone, Nuri is simply referred to as his friend. She isn't introduced as his girlfriend until they come for their visit. Moreover, Yasir becomes a completely different person when Deonte is talking with him on the phone. In that moment, he tries to become more paternal. He wants to ensure that everyone is doing right by his boy while Deonte is listening to everything his mother is telling him to do. It's clearly an important dynamic while also establishing a sense of yearning within Yasir.

Yasir is defeated in knowing that he is missing so much of his son's life. He doesn't want to be another black man who has abandoned his child. Nuri promised herself that she would never date a man who had kids. She too was traumatized by a father who abandoned her and chose to basically keep his distance from her for the rest of his life. She wanted to do better. She wanted to learn from her parents' mistakes. And yet, she was in love with Yasir. He had a kid living back home with his ex-wife, Destiny. This is a part of his life. She sees the value and importance in meeting his family. A week ago he was formally introduced to her mother. That became a whole thing with her mother believing that Yasir was just using her. That's the fear that his family has as well. They believe that he is going to suck Nuri dry just like he did with Ruby. He will abandon her as soon as a better offer or opportunity comes along. Nuri doesn't believe that to be true. She understands that Yasir doesn't want her charity. She has already given him so much. He doesn't want to keep taking from her. He wants to stand up on his own achievements in this world. And yet, it's a great idea to go back home for this visit. He needs to spend time with his son. Moreover, Nuri needs to see this side of Yasir's life. If it's important to him, he needs to share it with her. She needs to fully understand what it's like to leave a child behind in the search of one's own dreams. She could see Yasir as being selfish. He has abandoned his son and has nothing to show for it. He's not even appreciative of all that his family does for Deonte either. He would rather just stroll in and tell them the way he wants his son to be raised. Unsurprisingly, that turns into this huge fight that becomes quite explosive for so many characters.

Yasir wants his son to be taking piano classes at a private school. He is paying for them. His family hasn't been telling him that they skip them frequently. Yasir doesn't even know his son's schedule well enough to know that it's odd for him to suddenly show up at home. He does come to that realization after awhile. Instead, he chooses to storm out to yell at Destiny for denying their son the opportunities that he deserves in this world. She is able to articulate her reasoning behind her decision. She didn't do it out of spite for Yasir. She didn't do it to try to win him back. She did it because everyone else in the class has the opportunity to practice throughout the week and are already more advanced than Deonte. They are struggling and Deonte is suffering because of it. Of course, Nuri is the only one presenting solutions to this problem. She is suggesting places that could give Deonte a piano to practice. But that only stirs up the question of who is going to take Deonte to these places. Rose and Destiny are already stretched too thin. It's really starting to wear Rose down as well. Yasir doesn't see how tired his mother has become. She is still quick witted. She makes a strong first impression on Nuri. She has to know that this isn't just some thrill-seeking romance that will end after this peak into the hood life. She needs to know that Nuri isn't just being used by her son. But she also sees the value in yelling at her son to see the world from another perspective. Destiny is working hard every single day to be the best mother. It's not a choice for her. She has to do it. She has to provide for Deonte because Yasir is off chasing a dream. That's a luxury afforded to him at the moment. It just means that Destiny has no time for herself. Right now, that is only fostering more resentment. Rose is more than comfortable yelling at Destiny as well. But that's not going to fix any of these problems. True conversation and connection will ultimately do that. All of this is a powerful showcase for Loretta Devine who brings some real gravitas to the story this week.

All of this is going to take time to establish too. Destiny leaves the house pretty soon after Rose has to lay down. Destiny and Yasir have to learn how to be effective co-parents. Right now, they aren't being honest with each other about what is working and what isn't. Yasir is too busy chasing his dreams and not worrying about the potential damage he is doing to his family. He continues to be oblivious to how the world perceives his actions. He sees himself as this well-informed black man who is going places in life. He believes he deserves a shot to tell the stories important to his community. He believes he has a perspective that is missing in the entertainment industry. But he also just needs to sit down and write. He needs to start making his dreams a reality. Right now, his family is hurting every day that he can't provide for them. He needs to find a way to step up and do right by them. He can't just come into town a couple times a year to tell them what he wishes would happen. He has to find a way to be an ongoing presence. He needs to speak openly and honestly with them about how to fix whatever problems are happening. Nuri isn't afraid of him when he gets so angry. She has seen his rage before but his actions here are unlike anything that he has previously exhibited. It could push her away. She does tell Deonte that she is his father's friend and not his girlfriend. And yet, that's not any indication that she wants to put more distance in their relationship. In fact, it goes in the opposite direction. She gives Yasir direction. She gives him the space to work and tells him what she is going to do once she finishes reading it. He just has to take the appropriate steps to prove his worth and actually make his dreams a reality. That will dramatically improve things for everyone in his life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Rose" was written by Michelle Listenbee Brown and directed by Neema Barnette.
  • Angela and Norman are also paired with a story this week. That proves that the world doesn't inherently revolve around Nuri and Yasir even though this is the story as told by their future selves. They can't provide any insight into what Angela is feeling in this moment. She continues to pitch stories that actually mean something. She wants to use her script to say something important. Norman just rejects all of them until he is just willing to fire her for not being able to do the job.
  • It's absolutely devastating when Norman tells Angela he only hired her because the network demanded there be a woman on the writing staff. That shows that progress is only slow moving in this industry. Norman just wanted to hire a bunch of funny male comedians as writers. He saw this as a demand from the network that he thought would only worsen the show. He didn't see Angela as being the best person for the job. She was just a statistic that he had to fill.
  • And yet, Norman has fascinating and more meaningful dynamics with Nuri and Angela. They actually challenge him by forcing him to see situations from a different perspective. That's so crucial in an environment like this. There needs to be people in the room who can relate to the cultural experience of the characters. If there were no women of color, then no one would be there to tell the men that they are falsely depicting something and are actually making it very offensive.
  • Of course, it's also amusing to see the business realities of writing a sitcom script. Angela wants to do so much with this story. She sees a lot riding on it because it could lead to a spinoff for this female character. And yet, she is limited to which sets she can use because the network doesn't want to hand over the money or time to build new locations. So, these characters of color only have lives in these two very specific locations. That's it.
  • For a moment, it seems like Norman is thinking about Nuri when the network executive comes to him saying he has a pilot that may star Whitney Houston but she is demanding a woman of color be on the writing staff. As such, he's going to fire Angela and give the opportunity she wants to Nuri. But in the end, he offers it to Angela and that makes sense. She has the mind for drama instead of comedy. Plus, she simply has more experience on a writing staff.