OWN’s new hit, produced by Salim and Mara Brock Akil, Love Is_ explores what happens when you meet the one person who will instantly change your life. In the present day, we meet Nuri after 21 years together with Yasir. In celebrating their anniversary, the couple has agreed to have their relationship documented. “He unearthed the truth in me,” Nuri shares of her life with Yasir. Immediately, we’re drawn into the realization that whatever these two have is magical and we’re going to enjoy the ride.
And what a ride it is. Yasir stumbles into meeting Nuri because his best friend, Shawn, is attracted to her. Shawn has admired Nuri from afar but never approached her. Completely smitten, Yasir goes over and introduces himself. Both share how their dreams have led them to Los Angeles, Nuri a writer, and Yasir an aspiring movie producer. It’s the kind of chance encounter that dreams are made of, except for the fact that Nuri and Yasir don’t see each other again until another random encounter a year later.
When they bump into each other again, Nuri’s career is on the rise. She is a staff writer on a hit television show, just bought a house and is fully enjoying her love life as a single woman. Though the current status of their relationship is unclear, Yasir is living with Ruby and she is getting tired of his struggling screenwriter life. Yasir has no job, no prospect of selling his screenplays and only two unemployment checks remaining. His situation, to say the least, is a mess but when he meets Nuri again, he doesn’t say a word. Instead, he asks to attend the sold-out Wynton Marsalis concert with him- offering her the ticket Ruby declined and asked that he scalp so he can help with the rent.
When Nuri forgets to call Yasir to set up their date and he sends her a lovely surprise at work, her co-worker tells her to leave him alone so another woman who will appreciate him can have him. Taking her advice, Nuri meets up with Yasir at the coffeehouse where they first met to return the concert ticket. Instead, they talk for hours- instantly falling in love and telling each other as much. It is a beautiful and endearing moment until you remember that Yasir lives with Ruby, who is not too happy when he comes back home in the morning with a huge grin on his face and tells him that it’s time he moves out. He agrees and, with tears in his eyes, present-day Yasir tells the team documenting his relationship that Nuri saved his life. We are left with lots of questions and theories on how the couple will navigate the truth about Yasir but it is all tempered with the excitement of knowing that, somehow, they made it.
Nuri and Yasir’s story pushes us to think about what matters most: falling in love or working out the details before starting a life with someone. Nuri has her career and life on track. Yasir is sleeping on another woman’s couch with no job and a child back home. That screams red flag and is probably why Yasir let Nuri do most of the talking on their first date. Yasir is enchanting and has the charisma many sisters desire but I couldn’t help but wonder if I could seriously enter into a new relationship with those kinds of circumstances at the onset. Yasir has potential but is dating potential enough? Dating potential is tricky. There is no guarantee that it will ever materialize. Love is amazing but it doesn’t pay the bills and entirely too many sisters know all too well what it’s like to carry the financial weight of a relationship while a brother pursues his dreams. In theory, love is about support and enduring the hard times but that weight can get too heavy and become exhausting. Dating Yasir’s potential didn’t work out so well for Ruby and, though we know how it ends for them, we can rest assured that it has its complications for Nuri. Dating potential is tricky. There is no guarantee that it will ever materialize. The unfortunate part about it all is that you really don’t have much say in the relationship’s outcome.
But maybe that’s the point. What if love is about the leap? What would happen if we abandoned our lists of “must and can’t haves” and just lived in the moment? Often, so much of how we approach future relationships is rooted in the attempt to protect ourselves from experiencing the hurt that happened in the past ones. While that’s understandable, sometimes it can keep us from the love we truly want. Before falling for Yasir, Nuri was out here living her best life refusing to be tied down to one man until she was ready. There are some of us who won’t even entertain the idea of causal dating for fear of how it will look to the people around us. We’re missing carefree moments and memories because we are putting other people’s opinions before our own happiness. Nuri didn’t care and, before meeting the love of her life, she was enjoying life. Taking a chance on love doesn’t necessarily mean that it will ultimately end in happily ever after but it does mean that we’re taking the steps to make ourselves happy. Whether Nuri and Yasir ended up together, she chose her happiness over what others would think. Had she given that concert ticket back, who knows what would have happened.
Love is many things. Messy. Magical. Complicated. Scary. Liberating. Freeing. We can’t put a clock on it or parameters around it. Love doesn’t ask our permission to enter our lives. It comes when it comes and we have to be willing to greet it at the door. I don’t know the twists and turns Nuri and Yasir’s love story will take. From this first episode, it’s clear that rough times are ahead. We’re not guaranteed love without challenges. But, if we lean into love and let it have its way, there’s a possibility that the rewards will outweigh the risks. And some chances are worth taking.