Washington Heights: Are You Watching Yet?

Seriously, it’s ok if you’re not. Tv is the devil and shit, also you’re probably doing Yoga or saving kittens from burning buildings or something. But if you’re a tv-watching heathen {sometimes} like myself, then put on the Heights please and just be done with it.

Let’s talk about Episode 5 which I’ve officially-un-officially renamed “Let’s Get Loud” the pa que fue eso episode. Because really, half the drama in this one came out of nowhere and yet this really is a show that manages to constantly redeem itself.

bills, bills, bills

JP, star of and one of the creative heads behind the show, is having lunch with his momma. (I’m calling her Momma JP for right now). Momma JP is says “I need money for bills, like yesterday” — these aren’t actual quotes but that’s the gist — but she’s super cool about it too. Again, Washington Heights portrays actual Latin@ mothers interacting with their children. This isn’t someone’s idea of what our mother’s are like, these women are our actual mothers and grandmothers. I’m not stupid either, this show is probably scripted in parts or maybe 100% scripted because it’s tv and tv lies. Even if it’s scripted, holy shit the writing is quiet, deliberate and honest in the scenes involving respected elders.

Every mom has given their unemployed adult child this look at some point.  -- Barbara, JP's awesome mom --

Every mom has given their unemployed adult child this look at some point.
— Barbara, JP’s awesome mom —

JP’s mother speaks to him like an adult and lays out the fact that he needs to start putting in his share. Again, there’s no finger-waving, head-bobbing and neck rolling hood-queen-bee-baby-momma shit happening here and I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a mom like that. Some of those moms are the most awesome fucking people on the planet. The problem is that they’re often the only types of Latina or Black mothers on television or in movies. So clap clap Wash Heights for giving us the beautiful and down to earth, Barbara.

JP is trying to make it as a rapper. Again the show’s been criticized for the entertainment-based aspirations of its cast but it’s MTV, so why wouldn’t the kids on this show wanna be famous? Anyway, still JP’s moves in the industry are a powerful thing to showcase because he’s at the bottom. JP performs at an awesome gay-looking club and doesn’t get paid. He doesn’t get a damn cent. He just worked his ass off and told his mom he’d have money for her and nothing. The look on his face when the promoter says there’s no cash is crushing. This is a reality that’s often hidden or tucked away in old rap lyrics before rappers just rapped about having money and boats and shit. JP’s storyline shows the work and devastation behind trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

Also, I appreciate that JP and his mom live together. I appreciate that Reyna and her family live together, yeah the age range here is early 20s but still.  Mainstream white culture makes it seem like the only viable option in life is to move 800 million miles away from your family, have awkward thanksgiving dinners with them and be alone cuz adults live alone. That’s all bullshit and devalues familial communal living. In these brutal times of shifty banking, home foreclosures and ridiculous un or underemployment, we need each other. My money helps your money and we live ok, together. I’m really impressed that this key element is highlighted in the Heights. MTV could have easily given this cast of kids some top floor hood penthouse and let the cameras roll. Then all of this would be for nothing and these young kids from the Heights would look like assholes and be used as reasons why people from browner neighborhoods don’t deserve shit.

Frudwin: The Saga Continues

Frankie likes Ludwin. Together they are Frudwin. That’s the last time I’m gonna explain that. Feel free to come up with a better combo and if it’s dope, I’ll switch it. So Frudwin is a thing. I really want to hate on this coupling but the more screen time they get, the more I find myself rooting for them.

Ludwin has the sads. He takes his sads into Frankie’s arms and onto her lips. His tears are washed away by her embrace and the brown angel curls on his head couln’t be any more beauteous. All the world is a stage for their love. And I get it, sometimes the only thing that can ease the ache is to be in the arms of a woman, especially a pretty one that’s mad sweet to you. There’s nothing like that feeling. But Frankie takes this action as a sign that he wants something more from this relationship and that’s a tough place to be. How do you make space for someone needing affection to cope and keep yourself from falling in love when you’re giving them that thing they need? These are muddy cuddle waters, my friends.

I don’t think Ludwin needs to change his flow. It’s ok to want affection and connection without giving a girl a ring. On Frankie’s end I get it too but still, I feel like so many women/people/unicorns don’t take ownership of their inferences and expectations. I like that she didn’t bombard him with relationship questions. I dig that Frankie just opened up her arms and let him in. That’s what we do for each other. By we, I just mean good hearted people. Some of us are still like that right?

I CAN’T TALK TO YOU CUZ YOU GETTIN’ MAD LOUD

Holy shit, the fight between Reyna and her sister, Tati (!) is probably one of the most random and amazing things I’ve ever witnessed. OK ok, now for all the elevated presentations of Latinas that exist in the Heights, I still need to show a little love for the hood moments that pop up on this show. Because that shit is real and it’s ok to acknowledge that it exists. It’s all about a balance.

So here’s the thing, the whole time I watched all I kept wondering was: Why does Tati give a shit that Reyna’s man wasn’t at her  birthday party?

Would anyone give a shit if so and so’s boo-thang wasn’t at a thing? Most of the time, those others are tolerated just for the sake of the other person. So why why why would she flip on her sister for it?

Tati's jeans win this pic.

Tati’s jeans win this pic. She’s in the middle. Hey, it’s her b-day.

Tati’s on my suspect list, right now. Let’s all keep an eye on her because that just seems shady. Don’t you have other things to worry about? Maybe I missed the whole point of the fight and one of ya’ll can clarify for me. MTV wants to know if you think Reyna should give Tati a chance to explain.

So the sisters get mad loud with each other for getting loud. Literally, Reyna screams:

when side-eye can't be thrown, the hand is your best bet.

I CAN’T TALK TO YOU CUZ YOU GETTIN’ MAD LOUD.

Obviously this is my favorite line in the entire episode, especially cuz it was delivered with just the right amount of hood Latina accent.  It sounded like it came from my cousin’s house. Their loud, obnoxious and emotionally pointless sister fight explodes through the house like an M80 in a metal garbage can. The best part about this fight is that it ends quickly.

Redemption: Momma Reyna isn’t having this shit. She tells Reyna how disappointed she is about their behavior. I know it’s corny maybe a little to say that I love the family values in this show but I do. It’s nice to see that these characters are part of strong family units with elders that call ratchet behavior into question. Because ratchet shit is cute until you’re alone, alienated, drunk on the floor and/or in a jail cell.

Also, the conversation Reyna has with her mom is the most interesting conversation any two women have had on this show. I said it before, they’ve either been edited into relationship groupies or there’s nothing else going on in anyone else’s life besides a boyfriend or the hunt for one. Right now, that’s my biggest complaint with the show. The only aspirations these chicks have are edited into being someone’s boo thang. We all want that a little bit but damn ladies what else is happening? Maybe soon we’ll get to see one of you read a book or paint a picture or go to a museum or not talk about Ludwin.

Shit now I’m about to talk about Ludwin again. S/N: Ludwin tells his mom that he’s been talking to Frankie about his sads and that’s she a good friend. That one convo that lasted less than 5 mins, says more about their relationship and his feelings than all the conversations had by Frankie, Reyna and Taylor regarding Frudwin. One thing though, about Frankie is that she doensn’t let her homegirls dictate her actions towards Ludwin. She may not say that to them but her actions show that she still does what she wants to do in regards to him. So she bought him a skateboard and it was sweet. So that.

Frudwin & a skateboard.

Frudwin & a skateboard.

Highlights

Here are a list of other show moments that I don’t have time to talk about but were either really funny or important:

1) Taylor says in response to going out to the club last night: There were mad hoes up in there.

Frankie: Scuse me, there were girls not hoes.

#Heightsfeminism

2) Rico inhales a bug!

3) Ludwin runs a kids skateboard session in the park to give kids something positive to do.

#Heightsdogoodery

This show hearkens back to the Mary Ellis-Bunim days of MTV. May she rest in peace and be pleased by this addition to the network.

So what do you think of Washington Heights? How do you feel about its representation of the area and the people? Do you care about Frudwin??

__________________________________________________

** Note on images: All images are linked to MTV.com so you can watch the episodes. They’re all screen shots from the show itself.

*** Note on discussion of characters: Television and movies manipulate the shit out of every scene, sentence of dialogue and the bright lights to make you see what they want you to see. Whether or not these Wash Heights kids are real, actors or a combination of both: I don’t know them. Everything that I write here is a comment on the character created by, for and without their input by the creators of the show. That is real. Everything is mixed up and chopped and that’s ok. Like I think about my life and wonder what if what I said for three days was all intermixed in one sound bite, what would my message become? What would I look like? So…that.

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