Last week, we ended on a great big shouting scene. Finally, after an hour, the show really got some momentum going, so there is great hope for large and loud confrontations tonight. Maybe some invocation of God’s name, perhaps the word “warrior” being used excessively. I can only hope!
Roasting on a pit.
When we rejoin Marguerite, she is quietly sitting at the dinette table, cutting up a pineapple. I wonder if Abasi left it at the foot of her bed, as that was a signal in the old days that a guest has overstayed her welcome. Abasi tells us that he has planned a barbeque so that other people will be in the house and he won’t have to deal with Marguerite. Damn, that’s where all the fun is! She tells him, while he’s in the kitchen cleaning the grill, that she’d like to grill some fish she bought so she’ll have something to eat. He repetitively says, “We’ll see.” in response to her questions. Man, this guy is annoying. It reminds me of the time I was on vacation with some friends in Florida and the 4 year old of the group kept asking “Why?” after everything. Finally my response to him was “Because if you don’t shut up, I’m going to drown you in the gulf.” It was effective; perhaps Marguerite should have tried the same.
A call to arms.
Latoya has been obsessing on what she saw in New Orleans. She can’t get over what she saw in the Lower Ninth, and comments that where she comes from, everyone has a responsibility to the community. She has determined that she wants to do something that matters and that will physically show a result in the devastated communities. To enact her plan, she decides the family is going to volunteer to rebuild a house for a Katrina victim. Barry says the plan sounds good, because people down there need help and it’s good to give back what you can. Barry is working overtime to come off as normal and upbeat as possible. This may bode well for Barry.
Show me the butter!
At the barbeque in Florida, guests start to arrive, and Abasi will not introduce Marguerite to them. She makes an effort to introduce herself, and the guests comment to the camera that they are surprised at Abasi’s rudeness. Marguerite gets along well with the friends, but Abasi doesn’t feel he should be obliged to introduce his friends to someone he deems his enemy. I’d introduce anyone to an enemy if it meant $50K and it was a public place. So, the friends—mostly women—and Marguerite are getting along, and the daughter, Shach, wants some butter for her king crab legs. (There were crab legs, maybe because it’s Florida. I don’t usually see those at barbeques.) So Marguerite goes into the house to melt down some butter but can’t find it. She asks Abasi where it is, and he won’t tell her. This butter altercation goes on for what feels like hours, with Abasi refusing to show her where he’s hidden the butter. One friend, Connie, comments that Abasi isn’t deranged and a madman, and she is shocked at his rudeness. After the grand butter altercation, Marguerite takes off to go to the neighbors to escape Abasi. Of course, we don’t know if she’s actually made the acquaintance of these neighbors before, but she goes anyway. Abasi calls after her, to the neighbors, not to pay any attention to her because she hasn’t had her meds for the day.
A visit with Miss Jackie.
The Perrins and Latoya get ready to go to the New Orleans area to help build a house. Barry, Brooke, and Latoya are all dressed in clothes that can get dirty. Ashley puts on a matchy-matchy track suit and a big floppy southern bell hat, as Latoya calls it. Abigail is dressed all cute too. Latoya finds this a bit off, but they head out anyway. The go to the St. Bernard Parish Project, where they are assigned to work on a lady’s house. St. Bernard Parish is on the east side of Orleans Parish—while not actually the Ninth Ward that Latoya was thinking of, it is right next to it and there’s no shortage of devastation. They are assigned to Miss Jackie’s house; she is living in a FEMA trailer on her property, and her brick house has largely been gutted and restudded. They are there to help install new insulation so the drywall can be hung. Miss Jackie says she takes care of twelve grandchildren and has other relatives staying with her. I sure hope she has more than one FEMA trailer, or some spare room somewhere else. She’s a typical St. Bernard story: she had insurance but got shafted by the insurance company, so she’s been struggling to rebuild. They all—even Miss Jackie’s little grandkids who couldn’t be more than five or six—put in a lot of hard work, and finish off the day with some jambalaya. Curiously, Latoya pronounces the word “jambalaya” like Newman on Seinfeld, saying each syllable separately. Finally, the Perrins drive off, and Latoya promises to come back to help more.
Don’t show us the panties.
After the barbeque is over, Marguerite decides to pull up her “big panties” and go back to the house and do what she’s supposed to do, now that the barbeque is over. Abasi scoffs at her running off, and she tells him she has had enough of his rudeness and insults in front of the guests. Connie is still there, someone Abasi calls his good friend and counselor. She wants to know what is going on between Marguerite and Abasi so she sits them both down. Marguerite says she hasn’t been made to feel welcome and Abasi is prejudiced against white people and generally barbaric. Abasi accuses Marguerite of undermining his leadership and trying to make him give up his dignity and other blow-hard blather. Connie says she hasn’t seen any of that from Marguerite, and he shuts down. Marguerite goes off to her room, and Abasi wants to keep her locked there. Connie drags Abasi out of the house and tells him he should be using this experience to demonstrate the ideal African experience, and if Marguerite doesn’t get it, that’s not his problem. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that belching at people within the first hour of meeting them is the ideal African experience, but Abasi claims that’s what he’s done. In fact, I know a guy who recently went to Africa to study, and he hooked up with a local girl and now they are engaged. I doubt belching will be part of their wedding ceremony. Perhaps hiding butter will be.
Latoya, Brooke, and Barry all tidy up the house while Ashley lazes around and demands Brooke make her some sweet tea. Latoya has had it with Ashley’s diva ways, and makes a point to confront her about it. Latoya tells the camera that she had Shach at Ashley’s age but she wasn’t still mooching off her parents. Latoya and Ashley go out on the porch and Latoya tells Ashley that she is bogging her parents down and she should move out. Latoya points out that Ashley isn’t the first girl to get knocked up at a young age, and most don’t stay at their parents house in their mid-20s when they have a successful job. Ashley says that she is a key part of the family and that it’s no different than Miss Jackie having her dozen grandchildren live with her—it’s all a love nest. Latoya is as baffled as I am, because as far as either of us can tell, Ashley didn’t have another house that was flooded by twelve feet of water for three weeks. Latoya tells Ashley that her parents are never going to tell her to get out, but it is time and she says that never in a million years is Ashley’s story the same as Miss Jackie’s. Ashely says she was insulted by the whole exchange and Latoya just doesn’t understand her family.
It’s the last day, and Abasi has realized he has made serious tactical errors in trying to convince Marguerite of his beliefs. He decides he needs to talk to her, and asks her to come outside and have a talk. Of course he does this with his mouth full of dry cereal, another fine African tradition I’m sure Nelson Mandela practices. They go out, and Marguerite is uncharacteristically quiet. I think she’s decided she wants to not come off as a raving loon, so she dramatically suffers in silence for a lot of this episode. Abasi tells her that when he gets angry, he says a lot of things that he shouldn’t and that shouldn’t be her problem to deal with. He then says that his comments are about a white community and a black community, not about her personally. She says his actions were personal to her. To be fair, maybe Abasi was trying to hide the butter from all white people in his community. Perhaps Floridians are notorious butter-stealers. I will call my friend in St. Petes to find out and get back to you all.
In the most dramatic suffering statement of the night, Marguerite tells Abasi that before she came to his house, she thought she had dancers in her school. Now she’ll see white dancers and black dancers. She now “sees color” and that is what she’ll take away from the experience, along with a real understanding of how it feels to be prejudiced against based on race. Abasi comments that it’s useless to talk to her because she’s not really listening. Maybe Abasi needs to listen to his own rhetoric to see if it conveys what he means to convey.
The grand envelope exchange.
The moms sit down to write their letters. Latoya doesn’t care what the Perrins think of how she divvies up the money. Marguerite says that Abasi is going to reap what he sowed because she’s dividing the cash based on his actions. Both moms are glad to be leaving and getting home. I’m glad they are going to meet, and hope some real sparks fly.
And boy oh boy, am I disappointed. Both moms get there and Marguerite starts out by saying that Shach was a super sweet kid and she taught her all about rainbows. Then she drones on and on about how Abasi was such a boor, barbaric, and had a dual personality. Latoya found Marguerite so rude, she didn’t feel like replying. Marguerite asked Latoya if she was welcomed by her family, and she says she was. Her only issue is Ashley—she’s lazy, spoiled, and should move out. Marguerite tries to say that Ashley uses her money to send Abigail to private school, but Latoya calls her on making excuses for Ashley. Then they swap envelopes and head home.
Money for nothing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, everybody’s happy to be home, realizes that things are better where they are, and so on. What we all want to know is how the money was divided up. Barry is anxious because they have a lot of needs since Katrina. Abasi is worried because Marguerite represents “all the things in the world that have conspired to derail his plans.” Wow, dramatic much, Abasi?
Reading Latoya’s letter, the Perrins get: $10,000 to Brooke to study dance abroad; $10,000 for the house and bills, however Marguerite and Barry want to spend it; $20,000 for Barry to continue to find work as long as Ashley is in the house sponging off the family; and $10,000 to Marguerite if she completes a half-marathon. Of course, this pisses of Marguerite, but she doesn’t tear up the letter in fits. Latoya makes a point of saying that nothing goes to Ashley and leaves her with a proverb/fortune cookie saying that we’ve got two ears and one mouth so that we listen twice as much than we talk. Whatever. We’ve got two hands and one nose, but that doesn’t mean we should grab people twice as much as we breath. Marguerite declares the whole thing rude and mean spirited. I’m disappointed that Latoya didn’t leave the $10,000 to Marguerite for dental work. And I bet Fox is a bit more disappointed, in that Marguerite didn’t make as good of a television character as she did last time.
Back in Florida, Latoya reads Marguerite’s letter. She gives $1,500 to Shach for a piano, $15 to buy an Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits album with “Respect” on it for Abasi, and the remaining $48,485 for a fund to be given to Shach on her 18th birthday. Of course, no one but Shach is happy; Latoya hoped for more money for the house repairs. She ought to box Abasi’s ears over this, as it was really his fault. Abasi is pissed off and keeps ranting on and on, and fails to notice that Latoya and Shach aren’t listening to him. Abasi should count his blessings and be glad it’s Aretha. Had it been me, I’d have mandated him listen to “A Little Respect” by Erasure for 24 hours straight. His ears would bleed and he’d beg for mercy. And he’d finally show me the butter.
Next week we have a lesbian couple swap with some woman who is apparently totally deranged from a violent family. Seriously, do they not have background checkers on this show?!?!