Episode two of Mara Brock Akil’s autobiographical romantic series Love Is opens with a prayer.

Yasir (Will Catlett), bows the morning prayers of his Muslim faith, undoubtedly looking for resilience and hope during this crossroads in his life as he is on the verge of being a homeless aspiring director.  As he is praying, we see his roommate/ex-girlfriend Ruby (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing) as she slams the front door leaving the apartment – clearly an effort to distract Yasir and bring attention to their broken relationship.

The brief interruption doesn’t stop Yasir from finishing his prayer and calling up his new love interest Nuri (Michele Weaver), as she lay asleep in a beautifully lit room.  Yasir tells Nuri that he loves her, a sentiment they’d both discovered for one another during their romantic meeting at a local cafe.  She says she loves him too, amidst non-sensical, half asleep babbling.  Amused but heart wanted, Yasir tells her to go to sleep, as they would speak later…

Nuri, now awake and focused on the “real man in her life” aka her work as a staff writer on the network show Marvin, (a clear symbol for the 90’s hit show Martin starring Martin Lawrence, of which Akil was an actual writer), Nuri stands on the live set, dressed to the nines, ready to make her mark in the industry.  The showrunner, Norman Reynolds (Kadeem Hardison, known for playing Dwayne Wayne on A Different World), arrives on set engaging the studio audience as Marvin thanks them for making them the number one show on the network.  Norman approaches Nuri, telling her that Marvin wants her to join them at an elite restaurant “for bougie black folks” for dinner that evening.  This is a win for Nuri considering the difficulty that she has experienced in asserting her opinion in the show’s predominantly male writers’ room.

Later that evening, we see Nuri enjoying her time at the exclusive restaurant with Black Hollywood’s elite.  Marvin shares that he would like his show to have an impact on the culture in the same vein as The Cosby Show or A Different World.  Nuri  can see that the network is clearly using him for his eccentric and over the top behavior; however, she also recognizes that Marvin’s goal is to use the network to send out a positive message to black people through his show.  The exclusive diner went well, but despite the feeling of finally having a seat at the table, Norman quickly reminds Nuri that she needs to keep the jokes coming or she will end right back in the line of people waiting to get into the club, and states “this is good news and bad news for you…The good news is, he [Marvin] sees you and thinks you can deliver.  The bad news is, he sees you, and thinks you can deliver.  The minute you don’t deliver, you will be back in that long line of people waiting to get in here.”

As Nuri leaves the restaurant, she runs into Keith — a black network executive that she occasionally dates who is arguing with the person at the door and attempting to get in.  After learning that Nuri had been granted entry in addition to a seat at the table with Marvin, he implies that she was only invited because of her looks.  Nuri quickly counters his misogynistic statement and assures him that she was invited for being smart, funny and talented.  After that exchange, the two seem to let bygones be bygones as she leaves the club.

“This is good news and bad news for you…The good news is, he [Marvin] sees you and thinks you can deliver.  The bad news is, he sees you, and thinks you can deliver.  The minute you don’t deliver, you will be back in that long line of people waiting to get in here.”  

Back to Yasir, we see Ruby watching him as he sleeps on the couch holding a scalding cup of coffee.  When he awakes, she tells him that she was trying to decide whether she loved him enough to keep from pouring hot coffee on him, or whether she loved him enough to pour hot coffee on him — so basically she was going to throw the coffee on him!  Ruby mentions that she wants him to come with her that evening to woo a client of hers that has a big crush on him.  Of course Yasir has plans with Nuri to attend the jazz concert, so he tells Ruby that he can come for drinks but can’t stay for dinner.  Ruby seems satisfied with the answer and invites Yasir into her room to “help her pick out her outfit for the day.”  When Yasir enters the bedroom, Ruby starts to undress, and starts to seduce him just as he receives a page from Nuri.  During these moments, we are lead to believe that Yasir will give in to temptation; however, he stops things before they even begin on account of his new feelings for Nuri, and tells her that it’s time for him to move out (even though he has no money and no where to go).

We are now back in the writers room where Nuri and the writers have been told that Marvin has been chosen to host the Source Awards.  Normally, this would excite Nuri; however, she realizes that this good news means that she has to cancel her concert plans with Yasir to wrap up next week’s episode early.  She attempts to page Yasir; however she doesn’t receive a call back so she decides to call his house phone.  Ruby answers when she calls and basically tells her to try Yasir on his pager and to never call her house again.

Nuri and her best friend/co-worker Angela (Idara Victor) spend most of the evening working on their portion of the episode, and Nuri gets anxious as she starts to realize that she won’t be able to meet Yasir.  She eventually stops working to hide in the bathroom stall, depressed that she won’t see the new “love of her life.”  In true best friend fashion, Angela tries to talk some sense into her, reminding Nuri that this is her career, and she doesn’t want to mess it up over some guy.  Angela reminds Nuri the significance of being a black woman in the position that they are in stating, “the guys talk over us and Norman barely uses our ideas, but we’re making a difference just by being at the table.”  Nuri is unmoved by Angel’s words, and says, “but I can’t stop thinking about him….”

“The guys talk over us, and Norman barely uses our ideas, but we’re making a difference just by being at the table…..”

As Nuri contemplates her decision, Yasir sits on a curb, using bottled water to wash his hands and feet.  His best friend Sean (Tyrone Brown) catches him sleeping in his car, and takes him home.  Sean tells Yasir to sell his expensive concert tickets since he has no place to live, and even suggests that Yasir move back in with Ruby.; however, Yasir is adamant about attending the concert and refers to a passage from ‘The Alchemist’ to explain his rationale for keeping the concert tickets and meeting Nuri stating, “…All he wants to do is see the pyramids…It’s just a desire, a dream…Getting there, and following that path, that desire lead him ultimately to himself. Now although me being a director is why I’m here, it’s my pyramid…The concert feels like the oasis that he found in the desert, and if I can just get there…I’ll find refuge from this war that I’m in…And she can be my Fatima.”  We can’t help but to think of the 90’s black love cult classic Love Jones in this moment.

Back at the studio lot, Nuri devises a plan to sneak off from work to meet up with Yasir.  Everything seems to be going smoothly as she throws junk on her desk and tells people that she will busy working in her office — until she runs into her jaded ex lover and production assistant in the parking lot.  Still salty from their last exchange where she made it clear that there would be nothing serious between them, he makes it clear that he knows that she is sneaking off and attempts to asset power over her by stating that he will tell everyone that she is skipping out to ruin her career.  Despite these threats, Nuri shows her resilience against the misogyny (a budding underlying theme for the series), and states, “for the record…you have coffee in your hands, not my life,” and then rushes off to meet Yasir.

At last we see Yasir standing in front of the concert, waiting until the last minute for Nuri.  After not speaking to her all day due to his pager being shut off, and missing her initial page when he was with Ruby, he is not even sure if she will make it.  Luckily, Nuri shows up at the nick of time, just as he about to sell the tickets to an eager concert goer looking for last minute tickets.

Nuri and Yasir make it to the concert together despite the obstacles that they each faced.

Love bought them together.

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About The Author

Eboni Boykin is an opinion and cultural analysis writer from the southern United States. She combines her extensive knowledge of genre films with her critical thinking training from the English BA program at Columbia University in the City of New York.

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