Love Is, which is OWN’s new TV series based on Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil’s real-life love story, is off to a good start. Their love affair began in the 90s, so it makes perfect sense that the series feels like a 90s R&B love song or romcom starring Jenifer Lewis, Morris Chestnut n’em. Tonight’s pilot episode starts with Yasir and Nuri chatting it up in a cafe in LA, as Groove Theory’s version of “Hello It’s Me” bumps in the background. Yasir struck up the conversation because there was something about Nuri he couldn’t ignore. It’s an innocent conversation between the two starving artists, both writers with big dreams of making it in LA, but their chemistry is undeniably electric.
Fast forward 20 years later. Yasir and Nuri have been married for decades and are currently being interviewed for what seems like a documentary about their love story. It wasn’t smooth sailing from that first meeting so, we cut back to the 90s, now a year after the two met at that cafe. They never exchanged numbers, just exchanged pleasantries and moved on with their lives. Yasir is living with his girlfriend, Ruby, but things are rocky because Yasir is still working on a script, but not bringing any money in. Ruby is growing increasingly frustrated and emotionally abusive. We know it’s over after she turns down Yasir’s surprise tickets to a Wynton Marsalis and Cassandra Wilson concert. It’s just the way she speaks to him that’s soul-crushingly nasty.
Nuri is doing well. She’s working as a writer for a TV show and recently purchased a home. She’s also quite the player, but her love life is messy. That becomes obvious when her mother barges in on she and an intern (or assistant) from her job and even gets the man to admit that he’s in love with her.This situation is obviously super awkward, but it gets worse when it becomes clear that Nuri is not about men getting attached to her.
Fate brings Nuri and Yasir back together again so naturally, Yasir invites Nuri to the concert and Nuri accepts his offer. Nuri’s imagination is currently running wild with grandiose ideas about how he’s balling so it’s going to be interesting to see how Nuri reacts when she discovers that he’s still struggling. So far we know that Nuri is a tough cookie. That’s clear when she calls Yasir and Ruby answers the phone. Remember the 90s is still the age of house phones. Ruby hands him the phone without incident but you can see the wheels churning in her head.
Nuri calls Yasir to meet her at the same cafe where they met just to try to give him the concert tickets back. She delivers some spiel about how she’s wrong for accepting the tickets because she has daddy issues and other drawn out self-sabotaging fluff. Yasir recognizes the self-sabotaging behavior and tries to convince her to keep the ticket. Nuri gets cheeky and tells him to take his roomate. He informs her that he already did and she doesn’t want to go, without going into detail about who Ruby is (or was), which is shady but we’re living for the romance right now so I digress. They then start conversing further and discover that something else they have in common is that they’re both muslim. Nuri tries to leave, but Yasir is alluring (and sexy af) and he keeps pulling her back. Nuri, upon learning about Yasir’s career struggles, offers to read his scripts and even forward them to her agent. They kick it until 4AM. Yasir suggests they cut the bullshit and start living a life together. They almost kiss until the barista kicks them out. Nuri grabs the ticket, they walk out and finally share the kiss we’ve been rooting for.
When Yasir gets home, Ruby pushes up on him all of a sudden. You know she feels some type of way about Nuri’s phone call and what that probably meant. He’s not with it and would rather chill on the couch listening to his music. Ruby gets super salty and tells him that she hopes Nuri doesn’t mind that he has a kid, no job and now no place to stay. Yasir doesn’t even trip. He continues listening to music in his headphones, seeming to know that everything will work out.
Now we cut back to older Yasir during their documentary interview where he says that Nuri saved his life. And we fade out on some Bootsy Collins “I’d Rather Be With You.”
That concert is about to be a cute first date!