HomeTelevisionOWN Network Amps Up The Romance With 'Love Is_'

OWN Network Amps Up The Romance With ‘Love Is_’

Love Is

OWN aired the pilot for Love Is_ and it is mmm mmm good.

Just when I thought America was taking a pause from reliving the 90’s, here comes Love Is, in its 90’s kind of world setting, to interrupt that thought. Own’s latest drama documents the love journey between two aspiring television writers in Hollywood – more so Black Hollywood. The story is based on the real-life experiences between Mara Brock Akil, the creator of UPN’s Girlfriends and Salim Akil, who wrote and then produced for Showtime’s Soul Food.

The pilot stole my heart, not just because I’m a former ’90s kid eager to reminisce over the pop culture and fashion in Love Is, but because the writer and creator, Mara Brock Akil, delivers romance in a realistic and yet whimsical way. She’s turning the camera on her and husband’s relationship from beginning to now and it seems worth watching.

Michele Weaver, more so known for her role in ABC’s Switched at Birth, plays Nuri in 1997 and William Cartlet (Left 4 Dead: Impulse 76) plays opposite Weaver as the 1997 version of Yasir. Like the NBC drama, This Is Us, I think Love Is will jump between periods of time. The pilot opens with Nuri and Yasir in their middle-age talking about how they met, but it spends much of the episode on 1997 when Nuri and Yasir have their meet-cute.

I wasn’t familiar with either Weaver or Cartlet prior to Love Is, but the way they display the chemistry between their characters is loveable and I’m interested in seeing how well they can convey Mara’s vision at various relationship stages. They’ll have to get through Nasir’s girlfriend, his son, his mother (played by Loretta Devine), and his unemployment. Nuri’s baggage is lighter but just as unconventional.

Weaver and Cartlet got me caught up in Yasir and Nuri’s cute conversation at the restaurant until the moment became too romantic, too quickly. Had the waiter not interrupted their sappy conversation, I would have thought the writers were going over-the-top and absolutely doing the most. I think I held my breath in anticipation of where the scene was heading.

The writing is good and engaging, but a lot of Nuri’s conversations with her work friend reminded me of the friendships in Dear White People and Insecure and it felt trendy. I wasn’t put off by it, but I did notice a strong similarity between them.

Beyond the writing, I like Mara’s use of colors in the backgrounds to support the contrasts in the forefront. The deep dark colors that Nasir has in his home is quite different from the soft, light colors that Nuri surrounds herself with and that matches their personalities and their baggage.

The treats were in song selections (minus that one awkward segue to ‘Ex-Factor’ by Lauryn Hill), candid onscreen discussions about colorism and black Muslims, and the casting. Loretta Devine is playing Yasir’s mother, Tammy Townsend is Nuri’s mother and Kadeem Hardison, who played Dwayne Wayne in A Different World and then played opposite Zendaya in K.C. Undercover, is Nuri’s boss.

My spidey senses are telling me this show will be the summer madness that keeps people tuned into Own.

Rating: 8/10

Love Is_ airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST.

Asia Martin
Asia Martin
Writer-at-large. Crushing hard on this era of TV📺

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