I don’t consider myself a complete stranger to love.
Maybe more like the best friend of your play cousin, who you hang out with at the July 4th BBQ but never become Facebook friends with. Yes, her.
But definitely not a stranger.
I’ve been in a few long-term relationships. I’ve experienced the butterflies, waiting for “him” to knock on the door bearing Popeye’s and a movie. Even once wanting to abandon all complete and utter sense to become a Mrs. (a story for another day).
All of the experiences that bring Sanchez, Giovanni, Lorde, and the lyrics on any Jill Scott CD ever made, to life.
I’m 98.7% bought in to the notion that “Love is Patient, Love is Kind, Love is…” You know the rest.
Unfortunately, love is ALSO all of the things that often look so much better in your mind, than they do when two imperfect people actually attempt to create a perfect love.
There’s a scene in Love Jones, arguably one of the best cinematic illustrations of the “School of How We Make Love More Complicated Than It Needs To Be”, where Isaiah Washington’s character is sitting with Darius Lovehall and he says,
“All of y’all here running around jumping, hopping, skipping, diving, falling in love and sh*t. Falling in love ain’t sh*t. Somebody talk to me PLEASE about how to stay there.”
That’s my problem. I fall.
Jump out of an airplane, don’t need a parachute fall; but I haven’t figured out how to stay there.
And based on every conversation I’ve ever had with a successful couple, or late night venting sessions with my mom, that’s the key.
For the past 20 years, revisiting Nina and Darius falling in and out has been my Black Love on the TV screen refuge. Where I’ve retreated for regular reminders that the ebbs and flows will come, because face it, we haven’t had too many realistic visualizations of Black Love since then.
A few years ago, I discovered Black YouTube.
I’m not completely sure this is a real thing, but it’s the term I use to refer to the amazing content created by Black producers and filmmakers on the web. My Netflix nights have become YouTube on Roku or Amazon Fire TV nights, discovering our stories.
The ones we can’t view on traditional television – yet.
My all-time favorite Black Love go-to has been 2014-2015’s “First”, produced by Jahmela Biggs and starring Jahmela Biggs & Will Catlett; airing on Issa Rae’s YouTube Channel. Note: this is pre-HBO…actually Awkward Black Girl and RATCHETPIECE Theater Issa (I’ve been a fan since 2011 YouTube).First is the story of Robin and Charles, a couple who were friends in childhood, but reconnect in adulthood and try, succeed, fail, and try again to navigate the waters of love.
Two Seasons follow Robin, an aspiring novelist, and Charles, a community center administrator, through the stages of their budding relationship, and the completion of their monumental “firsts”.
We’re introduced to them on the night of their first date; a couple’s poetry session where they pen haikus to each other (yes please!).
Flowers in hand, Charles is noticeably nervous but trying to be suave. Robin is a mix of shy-meets-sweet as they head out to rediscover a connection. And as we all have, they fall quick and hard before the inevitable happens. Life.
From reconciling feelings for exes, to awkward family introductions…truly loving someone, but wrestling with the fear of being brave enough to choose them…to the circumstances that often force us to choose between what’s best for ourselves vs. our relationships…
First is the perfect intersection of great storytelling, actor chemistry, and authenticity that is missing from the representations of Black Love in media today.
I’ve laughed, smiled, and even cried (you may want to skip forward to Season 2, Episode 6) through this journey. Shoot, I even have faith that I may get it together one day.
So yes, I admit it.
I will always love Love Jones. But I’m officially cheating on Nina and Darius with Robin and Charles.
I should feel bad about it, but I kinda don’t. There’s more than enough of me to go around.
And we’ve already established that staying put isn’t my strength.
View Seasons 1 and 2 on the First YouTube page, and check out the myriad of newer web series hitting YouTube and Vimeo.
It’s time to support our filmmakers and our Talent. If we don’t, who will?
Until next time, keep watching! #niasupportsblackarts