The second episode of OWN’s new show Love Is_ picks up right where the premiere ends. It’s the morning after Ruby decides it’s time for Yasir to leave and, to avoid the inevitable confrontation, he utilizes his Ramadan prayers as a buffer. When Ruby leaves for work, Yasir calls Sean and asks to sleep on his couch. Sean, in the doghouse, is sleeping on it himself (no surprise there). When he gets off the phone with Sean, Yasir calls Nuri. She’s asleep but happy he called. The jazz concert is in two days but Yasir tells her couldn’t wait that long. They exchange “I love yous” and Nuri falls asleep on the phone. Yasir is grinning like he’s in high school. It’s sweet. It’s young love.
“I tell her I love her. I kiss her with the future on my lips. And I cannot get this woman back on the phone.” Present day Yasir’s reflection of the days leading up to their first date is pretty accurate. Things go from beautiful to incredibly complicated for Nuri and Yasir in an instant. Nuri and Yasir are on the phone discussing the strides she’s making at work when Ruby comes home and Yasir abruptly ends the conversation. The Yasir/Ruby lines are entirely too blurred. Later Ruby asks Yasir to attend a dinner with her that will help get her yoga business off the ground on the same night of the jazz concert. He offers a compromise that will still allow him to spend the evening with Nuri. As the two share a moment that gives you a peek into who they were before financial stressors affected their relationship, Ruby tries to rekindle the romance. Yasir respectfully declines and tells her it’s time that he move out. While Yasir is gathering his things, Nuri learns that she will have to work the night of their date. And if things couldn’t get any worse, Yasir’s pager is disconnected due to nonpayment and he doesn’t have Nuri’s number saved elsewhere. They spend the next two days cut off from each other, fighting to believe that what they initially felt for each other is real.
Good friends will help you see the truth of your situation. Nuri and Yasir’s friends are no different. When he finds his homeboy sleeping in his car, Sean tells Yasir to focus on getting his real life back on track instead of this dream life with Nuri. He encourages him to go make things right with Ruby because, at least with her, Yasir had somewhere to live. When Nuri can’t focus at work because she’s upset that she will miss the concert and Yasir hasn’t called her, Angela gives it to her straight: Yasir and Ruby probably went from being just “roommates” to back in a relationship. When Nuri doesn’t want to hear that, Angela reminds her that they have fought for this moment at work- to be in the room where decisions are made and to have their voices heard. Yasir isn’t worth Nuri jeopardizing the career that she’s worked hard for, no matter how much she loves him.
This is real friendship. We expect our friends to see the land mines when we can’t and tell us to go in a different direction. We aren’t supposed to see our friends headed towards disaster and watch it happen. Watching last night’s episode with Black Twitter and my group chats, some called Sean trifling and Angela a hater. I disagree. While Sean is definitely that one friend of Bae’s you side eye hard, he’s also the one you know has Bae’s back for real. Sean basically told Yasir to get back with Ruby for free housing and hot water. He’s not winning any Man of the Year Awards for that. But, at the same time, Sean refuses to let Yasir live in the fantasy world of his own making. Being unemployed and homeless is not the time to begin a new relationship. A real friend will tell you as much.
And what kind of friend would Angela be if she sat by while Nuri sabotaged her career in the name of love? Every sister needs a friend who tell will tell you that Sallie Mae doesn’t care if you two live happily ever after- she still wants her money. And, though we know how this story ends, Angela needed to tell Nuri that, if a man who lives with another woman doesn’t call you for two days, then that probably means he’s sleeping with that woman. Whether Angela experienced it herself or saw another homegirl go down this same road, we know all too well how situations like this end. More times than not, we are the ones who end up broken hearted and confused. Angela didn’t want that for Nuri. No friend should.
I believe in love. I believe in all of its possibilities. I also believe in being the Sean and Angela type of friend. I believe in being the friend who love you enough to tell you the truth. I found myself cautiously tempering my enthusiasm about Nuri and Yasir’s love and had to ask myself what changed from last week to this one. Last week, I saw only Nuri, Yasir and all of what love could be when you lean into it. This week, I saw Sean and Angela watching their friends lean into that love in ways that can prove catastrophic. Sean knows more than Angela but she knows enough to see that something isn’t right. Our friends are there through it all. Sean will be there when Yasir has to confront the reality of not telling Nuri the whole truth from the beginning and moving forward into his relationship with her prematurely. And Angela will be sitting right next to Nuri when she finds out everything and has to come to terms with it. Because that’s what real friends do.
We say what needs to be said and support our friends, trusting that they know what’s best for their lives. Sean told Yasir what he thought about him still trying to pursue a relationship with Nuri and still let him sleep on his couch and get ready for the jazz concert. Angela told Nuri to get her head back in the game, forget about Yasir and still helped Nuri sneak out of work early so she could be with him. Nuri and Yasir are blind to the world when it comes to each other. That’s cute but it’s not sustainable. Angela and Sean told them as much and are committed to being there should this relationship go either way. After all, what is love without the support of your friends?