Love Is doesn’t necessarily try to sell you a love story for the ages, but it does try to make dudes who are investments seem like they are ultimately worth it.
|Creator||Mara Brock Akil|
|Wiser Yasir||Clarke Peters|
|Wiser Nuri||Wendy Davis|
|Wiser Sean||Tim Reid|
|Sean||Tyrone Marshall Brown|
|Wiser Angela||Vanessa Bell Calloway|
It was 1996 when Yasir met Nuri, thanks to his best friend Sean pointing her out. It took a year though for them to officially meet and while it wasn’t love at first sight, there was definitely something there. For Nuri, it was Yasir’s approach. He was direct, no BS, and for Yasir? Well, there was just something about Nuri. Maybe it was because she was put together, something he wanted to be, or maybe she seemed like a sucker. Who knows?
All that is made clear is that Yasir, a father to a 6-year-old, once divorced, living with his girlfriend at the time, saw something in Nuri he couldn’t let go. So, throughout the season we watch him pursue her, win her, leave his ex, Ruby, and live with Nuri. Though, this doesn’t mean there aren’t trials and tribulations – mostly for Nuri. With Yasir unemployed when she meets him, a lot is put on her but she is so elated she ignores all the red flag. Even when her friend Angela points them out, her mother Carol, her boss Norman, and so many others.
Heck, even when she sees Yasir at his worse, when she meets his mother Rose, ex-wife Destiny, and son Deonte, and all that drama, she sticks by his side. Hell, when he flips out at her job, still by his side. Leaving you ultimately wondering, when it comes to Love Is, if the more apt title might have been Love Isn’t.
Episodes & Synopses
William Cartlett, Yasir, and Figuring Out If He Is A F-Boy Or Not
When it comes to Black characters, usually the dichotomy of good and bad is rather strict. Grey isn’t something many movies or shows featuring Black characters have. With the only exception being comedies for then you can play the chaotic individual who comes after everybody. In dramas, however, outside of OWN’s other programs like Greenleaf and Queen Sugar, you won’t see an actor like Cartlett having the ability to sway between a romantic lead you want to invest in and someone you very well think might be a f-boy.
And I applaud the writing and Cartlett for that since Yasir repeatedly seduces you like he does Ruby and especially Nuri to the point you want to forgive his trespasses and move on. Like someone in a bad relationship, you want to hope because things have gone quiet and have been good, they changed. Yet, then Yasir flips out, usually over feeling slighted in someway, and you realize that for all the smooth talking, seeming like a dark skin Malcolm X, this man ain’t s***.
And it is how he isn’t s*** that makes you sometimes love to hate this character. Let’s just start off with how he is written with enough complexity to lead you to want to forgive him. For it’s his close relationship with his mom, Rose; his passion for his son Deonte; or the few moments of vulnerability and sweetness he shows, that makes you want to be like Nuri and take a chance. Invest in a project dude who you got to help gives you some return back.
Yet, then you are reminded there is a journey and losses before gains. You got to deal with Malcolm Little before you see a glimpse of Malcolm X. With the establishment of older Yasir, played by Clarke Peters, so there is hope. Yet, that doesn’t erase Yasir, thanks to his relationship with any woman that isn’t his mom, seeming toxic. He doesn’t leave Ruby clean. He may not physically cheat but as shown in the last episode, he was full on emotionally cheating and seemingly maintaining her as backup. All the while, he is using his intellect and ability to woo Nuri into being his main source of affection, transportation, and more. The only thing she doesn’t become is financial support and that might just be because he knew it would be hard to put a “But” in any argument if he took things that far.
And it inspires some anger in you. For, in many ways, Older, aka Wiser Yasir, is the sole means of knowing Nuri dealing with this man isn’t in vain. But take that away and… WOOO. Cartlett will get on your nerves and I’m sure for somebody, he’ll remind you of a friend, family member, or ex that you just shake your head about.
To be honest, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing presented something in her presence that sometimes made me wanna never mind Nuri. She makes you wanna bring out a colorism flag and call BS. For with this show representing a 90s vibe, Wong-Loi-Sing harnesses that to levels which make you think of Love Jones and urban romances you based your dos and don’ts on. Add in the character was into yoga, dealing with her size not feeling appropriate for the profession, and she had immigrant parents? Honestly, there were times, just in the handful of scenes Ruby was given, that it makes you wish this show was less focus on Nuri and more on Yasir so we could have gotten to see the highs with Ruby and not just when Yasir was ready to exit her life and suddenly do better.
Which in itself adds onto the BS and Ruby even talks about it. All she wanted was the man to get a decent job but not until Nuri comes into his life he steps up. Bless the writing and Cartlett again for I’m getting mad just typing this.
Angela & Sean
What you have to love about Angela is that she comes off as the realist version of Nuri and Sean comes off as Yasir without as much book learning. They represent roads not taken and struggles that remind you that, as much as Black people share many issues and diverging paths do connect us, there are certain things unique to each of us that makes us different. Sean, for example, isn’t a smooth talker. He is confident enough to meet women, a good woman at that, but he doesn’t have that sense Yasir got where he can find women like Nuri who will damn near let him do as he pleases, barely contribute more than a little conversation and sex, and be treated like a king.
So, with seeing him in episode 10 just look at Yasir, perhaps taking stock of how far he has come, while he has barely budged in life, you have to feel for him. Especially since he was part of the support network which got Yasir to where he was. Making his ask, if not plead, to believe in him, maybe give him a taste of that confidence Yasir had to leave Ruby for someone better, or just leave his girlfriend so he could better himself, that was a touching moment.
But, another thing Sean does well is give Yasir reality checks. Especially when it comes to Yasir getting in his own way. Angela provides the same thing for Nuri too. For Nuri, while we start off seeing her with a 3 man roster, got one dude sprung and the other thinking she is a good look, Angela makes sure Nuri recognizes her privilege. She is the voice which reminds you that, for whatever reason, light skin chicks like Nuri never have a problem finding good men, bad men, or any kind of man. People like Angela though? She got to deal with online dating or just hookups. Which are nice to have, a girl has needs, but consistency is nice to have.
And Angela being a realist is what you have to love about her. Whether it is with dating or at the job, Angela brings throughout the season what Sean does just in episode 10. But, one thing Angela has over Sean is that her life doesn’t start and stop when Nuri isn’t around. From working with Norman to develop a show for Whitney Houston, her dating life, and not always being in Nuri’s corner, like when she wouldn’t co-write an episode with her, what you see in Ruby you see in Angela. Which is a character who could survive in their own show if separated from the two leads.
The Wiser Nuri and Yasir
I don’t think I can understate how essential these two are when it comes to getting through this series. Probably the majority of the quotes collected come from one or the other while we see their younger selves just act like fools. Making the way the season ends shows you, as much as two people can grow, some things stay the same.
But, even with that said, honestly, there comes a point where you wish this show was about them more than their younger selves. We have more than enough 20s and 30s focused shows. How about some complicated 50-year-old love stories? The kind which can be cute but also have a whole lot of baggage? I don’t know about you, but it seems I can only find that in the rare movie, like Fences, but it does not exist on TV.
Rose & Destiny
Despite my love for OWN, which usually focuses on middle class and above people, there is something about the way they present ghetto people that appeals to me. Which isn’t to see neither Rose nor Destiny are ghetto but they show they are very much capable of it – and I lived for it. But, the praise doesn’t come from what they are capable of but what they are and what they do. I love Rose for she is the Black momma who may not put up with your s***, but will support you whenever possible. Rose encouraging Yasir in episode one made me clamor for more.
So, when we see her, and his ex-wife Destiny in episode 8? I was in ecstasy. For seeing Rose in her element, as well as meeting Destiny, it made everything so clear. Particularly when it comes to Yasir for he really shows his ass when it comes to Destiny and in that moment, you realize Destiny represents so much. She is the woman called crazy, mean, and expletives who really was just driven mad by a dude who can’t communicate for nothing.
And following that realization comes Rose telling off Yasir and supporting Destiny like we rarely see women who seem like Destiny get supported. She is recognized, praised, understood, and the man is reminded how he needs to give her props while he is off being a part-time, per-diem, kind of dad. Now, she comes for Destiny too, justly, but these two are just another reason why sometimes you feel like the Nuri and Yasir relationship is just a Trojan Horse to bigger and better things.
It Is Very Hard To Understand How Nuri Willingly Ignores So Many Red Flags
Nuri has got her own house, is at the beginning of her career, is sought out romantically, yet she falls for this dude living with his ex, who is jobless, has a broken down car, and you have to play phone tag with to talk to. Also, you have to risk talking to his ex when trying to talk to him. Add onto that, he shuts the door in your face when you think he might be playing you. Also, he got kids and some baby momma drama in the form of him expecting things to be done without his help at all.
I mean, there are layers to Yasir that, I’ll admit, can be appealing. As noted he is a smooth talker, intelligent, and when motivated, he shows his potential. Yet, he has a quick temper, damn near hit Destiny, and there is a real need to ask, is he worth it? Being a guy, I’ve never dealt with a dude with potential. Someone who was an investment or project to wait for a return on. However, based off having women as friends, watching Yasir seems like the majority of their exes who they had such hopes for but either it was wasted or, they ended up like Ruby. Being the one who got used until they called it quits but then the next check got the benefits of all their hard work.
So with that said, this show really makes you question what Nuri thinks love is. Especially when she says she doesn’t think it is supposed to be as hard as Yasir makes it sometimes. A red flag which, seemingly, gets put down quickly since Yasir, being a possible f-boy, knows what to say and do to avoid a bad situation.
On The Fence
Knowing They Eventually Get Together Made All The Drama Frustrating
Truly, and I know I’m repeating myself at this point, Wiser Nuri and Yasir keep you from just tossing your hands up in the air. For as much as this show tries to be that 90s urban romance a lot of us grew up on, it also reminds you of how toxic and problematic some of those relationships were. Especially since such the words to describe these relationships are now widely circulated.
But, as said in the season premiere, knowing they eventually get together complicates things massively. On one hand, in the beginning, it gave you hope they could work through things. However, in time it made you wonder how in the hell did these two last? Making every bit of drama make Nuri and Yasir look worse and that 20+ year gap between past and present leave you truly wondering what triggered the massive change in these two?
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
There are many things to love about Love Is from its music and how passionate, heated even, the characters can get you. However, the base of the story is the love between Yasir and Nuri. Something that the younger, 90s versions of them don’t support all that well. Yasir is crafted in such a way you want him to do better and every time he disrupts Nuri’s tranquility, ends his run of seeming like a good boyfriend, you get so frustrated you’d damn near thing Nuri was your friend or family.
And that is why this is being labeled as mixed. You get so invested in what goes on that it frustrated you watching the BS. Especially knowing they eventually make it through. Because Yasir makes it such a challenge to understand how Nuri doesn’t just drop his behind! But, that show is probably a prime example of why the mixed label has that “Stick Around” in parenthesis. For while it gives mixed feelings, it still gets you hooked. To the point where you don’t hate-watch this but like a real relationship, you just want the good times to last as long as possible before the BS comes around. Especially since, when it does, you don’t understand why it is happening, much less happening at that specific moment over that petty or dumba** reason.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- Yasir is 33 in 1997 and Nuri 26
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Why did Rose go to jail?
- What was the reason Destiny and Yasir divorced?