"High-Like" is directed by Millicent Shelton, written by Regina Y. Hicks. Shelton has directed so many episodes of tv that it's hard to keep track. You've definitely seen her work somewhere, whether it's on "Parenthood," "Black-ish," or one of your guilty pleasure ABC family shows (s/o to "Switched at Birth"). She was also the first black director to win a primetime Emmy award (for the "Apollo Apollo" episode of "30 Rock"). When I was perusing her website, I saw a picture of her and Ray Romano and was like, "Hmm ... that's random. What's the Romano connection?" Apparently, it is a show called "Men of a Certain Age" that ran from 2009-2011 on TNT. I wasn't exaggerating when I said she's done everything.
Hicks is another industry veteran who has been involved in a bunch of cool projects over the course of her career. You probably know her from "True Colors," "Sister, Sister," or "Girlfriends." I remember watching several seasons of the later in a post-vomit haze after a horrible bout of the flu during my junior year of college. It would probably feel dated now (in the same way that "Gilmore Girls" does) but I loved it at the time. One other thing I should mention about Hicks is that she's the co-showrunner on "Central Park," a new Apple animated series that shares DNA with one of my favorites, "Bob's Burgers."
Since I was on vacation last week and basically had no Internet, I'm only just now catching up on this show. My mom was dying for me to watch, so I knew that something major must have happened but I wasn't sure what it was. When Lawrence popped up in 7/11, I was legitimately shocked. Based on everything Issa Rae has said about the show, I figured he was gone for good. After a night of drugs and craziness, his presence felt right, though ... in line with a bad trip. Any time I've run into an ex-boyfriend, it's always been in awkward/unfortunate circumstances, like the time I decided to ride the subway sans shoes. Thankfully, Issa was in a better position than me. Considering the previous night of MDMA, weed, and alcohol, she looked relatively put together in a t-shirt and headscarf.
While I enjoyed seeing Issa and Nathan's chemistry improve, I still think there's something shady going on with him. He does nothing wrong, but he does admit to playing games after Issa confronts him:
Issa: Well, why you ain't hit me up? I ain't never get no text messages.
Nathan: I felt like I came on too strong last time. I do that sometimes. I didn't want you to think I was, you know, pressed.
On one hand, we've all been there; on the other hand, there's a way to show interest without being overly persistent. It's problematic if you're in your 30s and haven't figured out how to strike a balance yet.
The best thing I can say about Nathan is that he's supportive of Issa's decision to quit her job and pursue something that makes her happy. He tells her that she's brave and going to come out in a better place. He also remembers her love of music and asks if she's going to pursue it in some way. Although he reveals basically zero details about himself, at least we know that he listens to Issa when she talks.
As I anticipated, there has been some criticism over the missing condom in the ferris wheel sex scene. Safe sex is smart and showrunners should do what they can to portray the use of condoms on-screen; however, anyone who has ever taken Molly understands why wrapping it up probably wasn't top of mind at the moment. And who knows? This might be intentional. Maybe shady Nathan will give Issa an STD and my suspicions about him will be vindicated. Or maybe he'll get Issa pregnant (although I hope she was smart enough to get an IUD under We Got Ya'll health insurance). Or maybe nothing at all will happen because sometimes people on drugs have fun and do dumb shit and nothing bad happens (I've done the same thing, coincidentally on a ferris wheel, and I'm totally fine. Jk ... about the ferris wheel). Rae has addressed this criticism before and made improvements, so I would be surprised if this scene was just a complete oversight.
Aside from getting some ferris wheel dick and running into Lawrence, Issa is mainly focused on trying to figure out what the hell she's supposed to do with her life. She's gotten into a groove with Lyft and makes a kickass second assistant for Molly, but as far as we know, she hasn't actively started to pursue other opportunities yet. She admits to Nathan that despite her chill facade, she's scared and has no idea what the fuck her next step is. I hope Issa figures it out soon because she's made some strides this season and I want the upward trajectory to continue.
While Issa buries her internal struggles enough to have fun at Coachella, her bff's come tumbling out in droves. It turns out that Molly (the person) on Molly (the drug) = a bad combination of sloppy and racially insensitive. Since teaming up with Taurean, the one-upper, Molly has struggled to shine. Instead of giving less fucks and succumbing to her role as team member and not superstar, she runs herself ragged trying to make the partners notice her. Can you imagine taking on an additional work assignment over a weekend when you have tickets to Beychella? If I had Bey tickets and work said I had to come in or lose my job, I would tell them to fire my ass. But Molly is more driven than me and actually cares about her career, so she misses day one of Coachella to finish up a brief.
After getting positive feedback from her boss on day 2, Molly is ready to turn up and have fun. When Nathan's friends offer everyone drugs at the pool party, things quickly take a downhill turn. At first, Molly's cute and funny ("I'm Molly, and I'm on Molly. So that means I'm Molly squared") but then she goes to a dark place. She starts crying and spills her guts to Nathan's "Black friend," who clearly wants none of this drama. After she tells him, "I'm single and I've been alone for a while. I haven't had sex since I slept with my married friend," he swiftly introduces her to a new dude. Andrew (Alexander Hodge), "the Asian one," isn't as turned off by Molly's meltdown and hangs out with her for the rest of the day.
After day 2 is over and everyone regains cell service, Molly freaks out when she checks her email and sees a bunch of last-minute notes from her boss. Right outside the gates of Coachella, she starts screaming, asking if anyone has a laptop. When they get back to the house, she frantically types out an email that Issa prevents her from sending because it is complete gibberish. Yes, this is Molly on drugs, but it's pretty obvious that she's wildly unhappy. Every emotion that she typically suppresses comes pouring out with reckless abandon and I worry about how much longer she can make it without having a nervous breakdown. I hope she keeps going to therapy because gf needs to learn how to be gentler with herself, to curb her expectations and pivot when things don't go according to plan.
Speaking of things not going according to plan, no one gets to see Beyonce because Kelli starts a fight and gets the whole group kicked out of the festival. As someone who is occasionally an angry drunk, I understand how this happened. I almost fought a girl at Governor's Ball when she refused to close her umbrella during Local Natives and almost poked my eye out with her drunken swaying. Crowds are annoying, people who feel entitled to do ignorant shit are annoying, but violence is never the answer, especially when Beyonce is about to perform. Goddammit, Kelli!
Up until this point, Kelli was killing it. She timed her edible perfectly for the first day (which is no small feat!) and was only derailed due to Molly's change in plans. She showed up to the pool party on the prowl for d (or p) and ready to have a good time. As Kelli surveys everyone at the party, she states her intentions:
Kelli: I'm gonna fuck him, I'm gonna fuck him, I'm gonna fuck her.
Tiffany: You crazy.
Kelli: No! Janelle Monae made it OK.
Everything is great until it falls apart. After getting kicked out of Coachella for fighting and then trying to rush back in for Beyonce, Kelli gets tased and pisses herself. It's equal parts hilarious and tragic and I can't imagine anyone but Natasha Rothwell pulling off the scene.
I never thought I'd say it, but I feel bad for Tiffany. She's on the precipice of some big life changes and no one in her friend group seems to care. She's always been pretentiously above their drama and more of a peripheral friend, but this pregnancy has cemented her outsider status. She doesn't even seem to vibe with Kelli, previously her closest friend, since she broke the baby news. Part of me thinks that it's her fault because she's so obsessed with the illusion of perfection that she refuses to be open and vulnerable with anyone. Unless I'm forgetting details from previous seasons (which is definitely possible), I don't think we ever found out what really went down between Tiffany and Derek during their rough patch. At the end of S2, I felt like maybe she had an affair with a co-worker, but I don't think it was ever clear.
Since the pregnancy, I actually feel like Tiffany has made more of an effort with her friends. There's no way in hell I would go to Coachella 5+ months pregnant, so I give her major props for that one (she even took a bite of weed brownie). She has to sense that no one is super excited for her baby (Kelli's comments at dinner in E2) but she still shows up and tries to have fun. When she and Issa talk in the car outside of 7/11, it's the first time I can remember her ever expressing insecurities to one of her friends:
Issa: You feelin' better? What's wrong?
Tiffany: I don't know. I don't want to be dramatic. But it's like last night and ever since I got pregnant, I just feel so left out. It's like I really pushed myself to party with y'all.
Issa: Girl, we just wanted one last hurrah before the baby came.
Tiffany: It's just everything's different now. Like, we're different now.
Issa: We don't have to be. Shit changes all the time. And we'll always be friends.
Tiffany: Yeah, I hope so.
I'm happy the show is addressing these feelings and spending more time on Tiffany. I love Issa and Molly, but I think there's definitely room to move away from them and spend time on some of the side characters.
- Issa is a great Lyft driver when she's not trying to make it a party. Bottles of water, plastic bags (for vomiting), and a fire playlist? My drivers never have those amenities.
- Issa jokes that Flavor Flav is outside in her trunk, but real talk - I bet Molly sends him to the fanciest doggie day care when she's out of town.
- While they wait for Issa in the car, Tiffany and Kelli watch an episode of "Kev'yn" that features showrunner Prentice Penny.
- There are some great shots in this episode. My favorite is when the Molly hits and Issa started kissing Nathan while everyone in the background dances in slow motion.
- I hope Molly gets her jacket back because it's fucking Valentino and costs nearly $17K.
- The ferris wheel sex scene is beautiful, too. Issa and Nathan look amazing bathed in blue light.
- Amanda Seales' line delivery on "Beyonce is a better mother than me" is perfect.
- I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but I hope everyone is watching "Wine Down" with Rae and Penny after the episode. They're always fantastic. This week's features Yvonne Orji and Penny's sassy red neck scarf.