Love Is ___ premiered June 19th, 2018 on the Oprah Winfrey Network. According to OWN and Nielsen, the show ranks as the NO. 1 show on cable. I am elated that Mara Brock Akil and her husband Salim shared their love story with the world.
If you were to ask the question: “What is love?” you would get a thousand different answers. The truth of the matter is, everyone deserves love no matter who they are. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to live a life filled with love. Many factors come into play when it comes to finding true love. Society places many norms that dictate who should find and keep love. Many believe your financial status and physical beauty are the two most important criteria that make one the perfect candidate for finding love. We have seen too many times that is not true at all, otherwise the rate of divorce among the rich and famous would be a lot less.
I have always been a fan of the Akils. When Sex In The City premiered and the show did not include black women, Mara Brock Akil took matters into her own hands and brought us the hugely successful show Girlfriends, and later the TV series The Game and Being Mary Jane. The Akils are committed to showing the world that black people matter and they too deserve to have their stories told.
Love Is___ resonates well with African American women as they can relate to the struggles the Akils encountered during their courtship. The Akils became a power couple in black Hollywood. Love Is___ is set primarily in 1990’s Los Angeles. It follows Nuri (Michele Weaver) and Yasir (Will Catlett), a couple from two different worlds. The story is told from the perspective of the couple’s present-day selves.
Yasir meets Nuri in a local coffee shop. Nuri breathes hope into Yasir’s life by encouraging him to not give up on his dreams of becoming a director/ producer for television. The two fall in love. Trouble and hardship ensue when Nuri and Yasir navigate around the highs and lows of falling and staying in love.
Society has not always been kind to the struggles and plight of the black male. We are conditioned to think they are less than their white counterpart, but with Yasir, we get to see a man who is struggling with being jobless and yet still manage to remain resolute in who he is as a man. I know more often than not society frowns on a man who depends on a woman to help him financially.
Nuri’s willingness to support Yasir financially while he is unemployed brings to light a conversation that black women have been forced to have for many years now. Are black women obligated to save the black male because society has made it very difficult for them to be successful? This is not an easy question to answer. Black women have it hard too. Slavery has done unspeakable damage to the psyche of black people. It is never easy to erase one’s past traumas.
It warms my heart that Love Is___ has opened many doors to talk about important issues in the black community. These conversations are vital and we must have them. In episode 8, Yasir takes Nuri to meet his mom and his son Deonte. Yasir’s ex-wife showed up to confront him. That episode exposed the daily reality of what single parenting is all about. Is Yasir less of a man because he is not a part of his son’s life? My answer to that question is a resounding NO. I think Yasir is a product of his environment. Yes, he is arrogant and full of pride; but he is a man who is searching for fulfillment in life.
We all come to a relationship with specific needs. Nuri feels safe with Yasir so she is willing to overlook many of his shortcomings. During episode nine, we learned that her stepfather molested her at the age of 9 until she was 12 years old. Having suffered such abuse is bound to have devastating repercussions on one’s psyche. I believe this is why Nuri appears to be very gullible. She has a very kind heart and is an overachiever, and this is how in my opinion she deals with her past sexual abuse.
At the end of the day, I think we all need someone to believe in who we are, our humanity demand that we find that someone who will be by our side to help us win in life.
I believe we are all masterpieces in progress and the people we allow in our lives will help us transition into who we are destined to become.
Lastly, the Akils have once again given us another masterfully well-written TV series that allow the viewer to see events in the life of black people. Hopefully, by watching shows like Love Is ___we can all get inspired to have quality conversations that can help heal our past traumas.