By Luvvie Ajayi
Written by Issa Rae
Directed by Prentice Penny
Denied — Issa is at work, looking at apartments to rent but these L.A. prices are out of pocket. She shoots a text to Daniel cuz apparently they are ships passing in the night in that small apartment of his. She’s declined for another apartment she applied to, doe. Daniel’s response is super short. My feelings are still hurt over his “roommate” emphasis, and clearly, he is feeling some type of way about Issa.
Wrong and Strong — Joanne wants to discuss the old logo before they redesign it and asks the staff what they think. They all agree that it’s racist, because it is a white hand holding up black kids, but Joanne is mad defensive about it, saying it’s her hand, and it’s not a handout but a hand OUT. Darth Becky is at it again. Everyone then goes around to say what it could include, based on who they are. Ken thinks they should incorporate a rainbow, and Kitty thinks it should be two boys and two girls, not just one girl. Cuz: TimesUp and white woman concerns. Sarah says it’s called “We got Y'all” which ain’t even grammatically correct (yeah I know what I said). Patricia throws an alley-oop to Issa, who had been super quiet up unto that point by saying it should be whatever she thinks is right. Issa chooses the road less rocky and says she agrees with everyone. She checks her phone and sees another apartment rejection. Meanwhile, Joanne is choosing to die on the “It’s not racist” hill she has climbed. Figures.
Daniel is in the studio with his niece, Jada, on babysitting duty when his music partner, Seven, rolls in with excuses about why the artist he promised would show up, Spider, ain’t there. Daniel’s been putting in work on a mix for him too, so disappointment.
Super Bad — Issa goes to see her girl Kelli at work for insight on her finances. Our girl got a 425 credit score, and Kelli being the realest of the real, tells Issa that “bad” would be too kind a word for her terrible score. She’s gonna need a cosigner or 3-4 months rent before she can secure a place but the way Issa’s finances are set up, she ain’t got a pot to piss in and a window to throw it out of. She cannot realistically get her own apartment. Kelli asks if she’s at least giving Daniel some money and when Issa says no, her friend inquires about what she is doing in exchange for that couch favor. Not a damn thing; not even cleaning around the place. She’s just taking up space. “Don’t look a gift horse in the d*ck.” Kelli wisdom is the best wisdom, even when it’s nonsensical.
Gotta Go — Issa calls her brother to see if she can crash with him and he shuts her down fast, quick and in a hurry. Him and his boo don’t want company.
Daniel has spent the last three nights at his bone buddy, Vanessa’s place and she straight up asks him if he doesn’t got no other woman to go lay under. That’s how you know someone’s sick of you. Where are his other booty baes? Well damn. He’s trying to give Issa some space, but his venting session is cut short because Vanessa only really has time to talk about her job, which I don’t blame her. Again, with these men who don’t understand that hitting it and quitting it is a thing.
Do Nothing — Issa is at lunch with her coworkers and she brings a sad sandwich and some granola bars cuz: broke AF. Frieda brings up the meeting with Joanne, and the coworkers are more concerned about the logo being ugly than it being racist. They basically tell Issa that if she has issues with things outside of the logo, to handle it herself. She doesn’t wanna be the rep for all Black people? Tough sh*t. That’s how things are. Meanwhile, Frieda is trying to be the polite white person who nicely points out problematic things, without doing much else. Girl bye. I can’t stand do-nothing people.
Issa calls Daniel and tells him she needs more time to get her own place, but he responds by saying Vanessa ain’t cool with her being there all the time. Lying through those perfect, straight, white teeth of his. He can give her just one more week, and hangs up. Oop. See Issa’s life.
The Cleanup — Issa takes Kelli’s advice and is cleaning up a storm at Daniel’s place. She gotta make herself more useful. Daniel walks in and notices she cleaned. He gets a text from Seven, who is flaking from their club night where he is supposed to introduce him to Spider. Welp, guess that plan is a wrap. But Issa says if he doesn’t wanna go alone, she’ll go with him. He can’t just be dumping plans because of flakey folks. She wants to do something for him and being his wing-woman will be part of it. They show up to the club and they’re not on the list like Daniel thought they would be and right then, a former high school classmate of theirs, Khalil, who happens to be a big sh*t producer rolls up. He shows them all the love and asks what they’re doing. Issa says they’re having a tough time getting in and Khalil immediately tells them to roll in with him even as Daniel tries to balk.
The Bomb — Khalil tells them to come to his table and Daniel lies and basically hits him with the “I’m good, luv. Enjoy.” Spider is performing on stage and Daniel tells Issa that he has the idea to layer the guy’s sound and he does a beatbox to Issa to show how much doper he’d sound. She agrees that it’s hot and offers to buy him a drink even though she (and him) knows she can’t afford it. At the bar, a dude offers to buy Issa a drink, and at first it’s encouraging, until he opens his mouth to say his green braces match his money. OK no. Either way, she asks him to buy her 2 drinks, because: resourceful.
Daniel hasn’t moved from the spot Issa left him when she hands him the drink she got from Brace Face. He spends the whole time staring instead of shooting his shot but Issa encourages him to approach Spider. They get to the table and Daniel pauses as Khalil and Spider chop it up so Issa jumps in and starts making random convo with her old buddy to get him away from the target. He finally gets his chance to pitch to Spider and he bombs spectacularly. WOMP.
Upturn — Right then, gunshots go off in the club and everyone dives for cover. Daniel and Issa end up at a food spot after. Their maybe near-death experience gets them thinking about their lives and Daniel vents about how his music has gotten him nowhere. “I got good, but Khalil got famous.” Ummm… has he thought about collaborating with his old schoolmate instead of lamenting about how they’re in different places? He gotta learn how to ask for help. Shoot, she’s had to put her pride on the line many times, like asking him to stay longer. He realizes she’s right and softens up. He says she can stay as long as she needs.
When they get back to Casa de Daniel, he calls Khalil immediately and asks if he can roll through his studio. Khalil must have said yes, cuz he gets excited and hangs up the phone. The audacity to ASK is major. Issa sits on the couch but looks in pain. Daniel notices and asks if she’s OK. That couch ain’t comfy, man, and back pain is a thing. He gives her a short neckrub and offers her his bed, since he’s working late on music. Issa checks her voicemail and she received a call back about a property manager position she applied for. They wanna talk to her more. The non-rejection makes her smile. Things are looking up. She goes and sits next to Daniel and listens to his music.
I am so here for Issa and Daniel being friends for real again. I’m trying not to get excited about them being a couple, but they are adorable together. And to see their soft moments together gave me the warm and fuzzies. Issa went out of her way to big him up and give him the encouragement he needed, and it really showed how she cared. Usually, she can be pretty selfish but that talk from Kelli got her together.
Speaking of, everybody needs a friend like Kelli. Really and truly. The ones who tell you when your slip is showing and when you need to be a better person. Also, the ones who are like “I can help you but help yourself first.”
But back to Daniel and Issa. These 2 clearly care a lot for each other but their inability to get together in any real meaningful way makes me tired. I think it’s mostly Issa’s fault, though. She’s played him to the left a few times and he finally got sick of it and iced her out. That icing is what then spurred her to step outside her usual self and actually try to give instead of take.
I am rooting for her to get a new job so bad. We Got Yall is the quintessential office where you, as the only black person, has to spend the entire workday doing your job and doing the job of not losing your mind from the constant microaggressions and tokenization. And when she quits, I hope she makes Joanne cry crocodile Lorelei tears.
This post is in partnership with HBO. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.