Tonight, the Season 1 finale of Love Is, the series loosely based on Mara Brock Akil and her husband, Salim Akil’s courtship, will air tonight. For weeks we’ve gotten to see the blossoming love story of Nuri and Yasir from the bottom up, and I do mean the bottom. Viewership is great, but everyone isn’t feeling it. Hear me out.
Because I believe in supporting African American shows and content, I tuned in for the premiere. I’d been following Will Catlett who plays Yasir, since his roles in Issa Rae-produced web series, First and Giants. After the hour, knew I wouldn’t watch again.
Yes, me, an avid watcher of Girlfriends and its reruns some 15 years later (I even signed the petition for the movie adaptation. Give Joan Carol Clayton the wedding she deserves, dammit!). I love stories. I love love stories, but theirs, atleast portrayed on small screen was so intense, it came across crazy unrealistic. Jaded or not, I decided to sit this one out.
Weeks later, my mother, who only loves or hates anything, texted me randomly: ‘Love Is ‘makes me smile. I replied with a simple, “I saw it.” After a few friends wanted to discuss it, I decided to binge watch on a weekend. If I felt the same after the second episode, I was out.
I made it through two episodes before I was wondering how this relationship could have been real because Yasir (or Salim) was a piece of work. Mesmerizing one minute, problematic the next. The times I wanted to exit my On Demand screen, Nuri (or Mara’s) issues with work and friendship and the intersection of the two made me stay. The soundtrack set to the late 90s kept the music lover in me engaged from scene to scene (whoever scored it is a beast).
Cherry pick any discussion about Love Is, and there’s a lot of swooning over Nuri and Yasir’s love exchanges, but also “Girl, I couldn’t deal with all that.” How could a put-together woman like Nuri fall madly in love with a “hotep” like Yasir with so much, yet so little? How many post-coital breakfast- in-bed could he bring her before it sets in that he’s unemployed?
Many women have likely dated a Nasir. He was ready (so he said), but he was unprepared or unstable. Now whether he was in love with you or not is another story. And whether or not you wanted to go with him on his journey to self-actualization is, too, but Nuri is definitely letting love lead.
Maybe that’s what’s keeping folks captivated. We love using entertainment as a barometer for our experiences. How real and relatable is this content, and have we seen these scenes play out in our own lives? If not yet, how would we react if they do? And if not, then what?
Everyone loves a good redemption story—so much so, we become so focused on the win, we forget about the people, or in this case the women, going through hell to cross the finish line. As unfortunate as it may be, the relationships we work the most hard at don’t always have a happy ending. Witnessing behavior or issues that hinder a healthy relationship be resolved on the account of love is like seeing a flower bloom, but everybody ain’t got that kind of time.
Love Is leaves us either full to the brim with the hope and possibility of love or near empty if you know in your own experiences that it may take (much) more than love to make it over. Maybe the Akils want us to feel all of those emotions. Whatever side you’re on, everyone’s love story is their own to tell.