A review of episode nine of VH1's Single Ladies after the jump. You can read all my reviews of the show here.
Single Ladies did a good job of bringing the entire ensemble into one story – about a dinner party Val hosts – which allowed all the actors to play off of each other (always a good thing for actors, by the way) and for the writers to start revealing information to slowly complicate every one of the romantic relationships.
We find out Malcolm has an ex-wife that he still dotes on out of guilt for his infidelity when they were married. We start to see just how much April is feelin' Reed. We begin to see a little more of how Val's desire to please can cause real displeasure. And we get to see Christina and Omar really vulnerable.
It feels like the show has a better sense of pacing and plotting than it did earlier in the season where every other minute some high drama was occuring for no other reason than the writers seemed to just want to have things happen – and happen in a big way.
Here we see how Keisha's insecurities about giving her heart to a man bump up against the fact that she already loves that man. And so we don't get a big blowout, we get an adult conversation about the unfinished business in Malcolm's life.
One could debate whether or not Keisha is smart or not for letting Malcolm's declaration of love put her off her instincts about his ex-wife drama – especially since every time Malcolm opens up about his past it is some bullshit that you know will come back to bite him and Keisha on the ass – but as rendered it felt real.
We see how Val's devotion to a man can really tip over into a distasteful control freak tendency. I liked that Jerry used it as a way to be really cheesily romantic and I like that it was Val's decision to take that romance to the next level.
Similarly, I really enjoyed Omar's incessant calls to Vincent, who didn't show up for the dinner party. Travis Winfrey balanced the comedy of those scenes with just enough heft to help us see just how much he likes Vincent. I don't really understand why Vincent didn't show up or why when he did he offered no explanation and chastised Omar for not telling him the party was a priority. But Omar is primarily a comic character so it makes sense that the writers played so much of Omar's story for laughs and let Winfrey do the work of grounding it.
I do hope though that tonight's Omar plot is not purely comical though. It would be interesting for the show to explore how a confident out gay man who has a healthy sex life can be floored by unexpected love. Omar really was upset that Vincent wasn't at that dinner party. Let's not forget that.
It was also quite enjoyable watching April get really jealous that Reed slept with Denise Phillips (played by Kelly Rowland, the finest woman in the world if you didn't already know that). Charity Shea plays exasperation really well and was well-served in getting to show it quite a lot in this episode.
The show was too on-the-nose with that ending ("Maybe next year you two won't be single ladies" "Don't jinx it!") so we know everything is about to fall apart, but it was actually a really enjoyable low-key episode that advanced the ball and gave everyone some new things to play.
- I was struck by how April's "never go back" commment about sex with black men passed without comment. It didn't necessarily need comment because we know how April gets down, but I'm not sure if the line was meant to put off Reed in that moment or be just a joke. I didn't work for either of those goals, but it also didn't derail the scene. Not sure what the writers intended but I'm not sure what making it a throw away line – if indeed that was the intention – actually means.
- Kelly Rowland should have had one of her new songs on the closing credits. Kelly – get it together. Your album drops tomorrow.
- The George Michael soundtrack to Val and Jerry's sex was just totally out of place.
What did you guys think?