Welcome back to your Twenties recap, episode 202 — otherwise known as the one where Hattie learns that growing up sometimes means taking criticism from the people who love you and want to make your life better. In our last episode, Hattie and Ida f****cked and Hattie didn’t know the difference between you’re and your, but she does have those high cheekbones, and that makes everything OK.
Ida and Hattie are making eyes at each other, excuse me, Hattie is biting her bottom lip, Ida smirks, Hattie slow creeps a smile, the tension between them — as always — melts your skin straight off as the camera zooms out and wait — they are playing what appears to a bootleg version of Uno on Ida’s bed (Hattie is wearing a Calvin Klein sports bra, shorts, and some loud ass socks)… and then??? OH WAIT NOW. This just in. Is that HATTIE’S NINA SIMONE SWEATSHIRT THAT IDA IS WEARING??
Game Announcer: Audiences watching at home, we have rewound the video, and it is indeed Hattie’s Nina Simone sweatshirt that Ida B. is wearing!!
The crowd goes wild!! Confetti falls from the ceiling! CHICAGO WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP!!!
Ahem, excuse me and my hormones, where were we?
Ida points out that (fake)Uno isn’t a sport because there’s no tournament for it — btw, that is a lie — and Hattie realizes that her cousins would pay top dollar for such a thing. Ida says that Hattie’s making her feel old again. Hattie says Ida looks young. Ida smiles softly and says “that’s sweet” and then Ida her babe.
— skrrrrrrr —
IDA CALLS HER BABE.
Hattie gets stuck on a reversal and has to pick up four cards. Ida taunts that she’s losing.
Hattie looks at Ida from beneath her lashes, “Am I?”
Meanwhile, leaving rich Black LA for middle class Black LA, Marie and her fiancé Chuck discuss the pros and cons of a Black marching band for their wedding and Marie says maybe put a hold on it for a second. Am I the only one thinking Marie is getting some cold feet?
As soon as I have the thought, some big ole swoll athlete looking man calls Marie talking about optioning a movie deal but also in his deep voice tells Marie, “I’m ready to lock in with you” and you could physically see her breath escape as she responds, “I’m ready to lock in with you.”
Whew Chuck, you in danger girl.
Moving on from middle class Black LA to broke Black LA.
Hattie FaceTimes Nia from Ida’s claw-foot tub (Nia: “You like playing house with people who have no intention of committing to you.”). Hattie’s been working on her writing at Ida’s and when Nia asks what Hattie is doing for money, Hattie bristles at the idea of being Ida’s kept woman. Listen my love, butch pride aside, you could do worse.
Still thinking about Nia’s words about being kept and broke, Hattie heads back to the coffe shop from Season One. She runs into former co-workers from the olden days before Ida fired her from the show. She tries to gas herself up (“Things are looking up for ya girl!”) and then just as Idina, who you’ll remember as Hattie’s stud bestie who had a crush on her last year, goes to ring Hattie up behind the counter — Beep! Beep! Beep! Card declined.
Turns out that Hattie’s student loans came through and wiped out whatever little she had left. We’ve been there. The Black former co-worker offers to cover Hattie’s coffee in a time of need, while the white one “doesn’t want to be a white savior” (I howled).
Marie’s day at work goes back to the tired conversation about whether Black movies should have trauma in them, Marie continuing on her little soapbox as… standing up for violent Black stories? I already shared my opinions on this narrative choice (spoiler alert: I hate it) so I will skip my happy Black ass along to what’s key here: Some well dressed white boy in a grey blazer flirts with Marie like his dudebro life depends on it, while simultaneously complementing her on her engagement. 100% we’re getting a Marie cheating storyline.
Nia’s day isn’t doing much better. At the studio lot, Ida comes up to Nia, in full producer mode, and admonishes the former-child star for her lack of social media presence. They argue the pro’s and con’s of celebrity and brand building, leaving with Ida dropping “Your platform should reflect the life that you want, not the life you have” — an absolutely fucking terrifying, though not entirely untrue, word.
At her yoga class, Nia’s still hung up on Ida’s advice that she beef up her social media. (Nia: “I can tell when people are on there acting like they’re happy when they’re really not.” Hattie: “That’s the whole point.”) She considers making some changes.
A quick swivel shift back to Marie’s life, and it’s an after-work dinner with Chuck. Marie admits to feeling cold feet about their upcoming nuptials — well, almost. She gets cold feet about her cold feet and pretends that everything is fine last minute. (Did I mention? Just two paragraphs ago? Marie about to be clapping some cheating cheeks like her name is Bette Porter and it’s Season Five of The L Word. Set a clock to it.)
It’s the end of the day and IDA AND HATTIE ARE SHARING A BED — sorry, I’ll stop with the all caps about them one day, I promise — Ida in a silk robe and Hattie smoking a spliff.
Ida read Hattie’s script over again, and because her love language is and will always be slightly mean encouragement, she has more notes.
She liked the opening, but Hattie needs to move the story along. The challenge with episodic television is that you want there to be consistency between episodes but at the same time you want your characters to evolve, or your story becomes stagnant. You have to put them in new or uncomfortable situations, so that they’re challenged and see things from a different perspective.
And this is an example of meta commentary done so excellently it’s like a warm knife cutting through butter. We’re all friends here; I can admit that it took me a long time to warm up to Twenties first season. The beginning scripts were clunky, flat. It took a minute for the characters to feel as if they had believable relationships with each other. But by the end it was going somewhere good. Giving into the slow burn between Ida and Hattie, in particular, has continued to paid off in dividends. Thus far the second season has built from that momentum, first with Hattie staying up in Ida’s house, but also with Nia and Ida interacting in the workplace. These are new and uncomfortable situations — and they are opening up perspectives for Hattie and Nia.
Compare Ida’s monologue to the sledgehammer approach that’s been taken thus far with Marie at work. I’m relieved to know that Twenties can follow through on the power of subtle interior commentary, if only when it chooses to.
Ida ends her critique in a moment of warmth, “Becoming a good writer takes time, Hattie. You finally have a good script, now it’s time to make it better.”
I know that Hattie and I must be cut from a different cloth, because if a hot older woman was snuggled up in next to me in bed, giving me a free writing class with her voice all low and husky, sounding like pure sex, I would melt into a puddle at her very whim (in fact my pulse sped up even just watching). Instead, Hattie gets defensive.
Ida tries to explain, writing has to be specific, but also relatable. No one wants to green light a project made for an audience of one. She’s just trying to help.
Hattie snaps, she didn’t ask for Ida’s help.
She climbs out of bed and Ida says, “Don’t be like that—”
Hattie cuts her off, “Be like what? You told me my shit was good right? Well, Imma go make it better.”
That leads Hattie to the coffee shop in the middle of the night and Idina shows up, offering a scone of friendship. Hattie’s worried that she’s repeating the same patterns in her life, “I got rid of one toxic relationship and walked right into another one.”
My Narrator Voice: Have we seen Ida be toxic? I mean yes, I also don’t necessarily approve of the power dynamics inherit in their relationship’s beginning, but particularly in this episode and in the conversation directly proceeding Hattie’s supposed “awakening” — Ida was being factual about the basics of how writing works. Any writer knows you have to connect with someone other than yourself. Ida’s mistake was in not asking if Hattie wanted advice before giving it, but that’s not the same as being a toxic person, especially on the first time.
Hattie’s broke, adrift, and feeling a little pitiful about herself. Idina, clearly a student in the academy of Get Some Thick Skin and Grow TF Up, tells Hattie that making edits on a script is part of the process of becoming a writer. She offers Hattie a spot in her writers’ group, and Hattie, reluctantly, takes some interest.
The next day, Hattie tries to get her life back together (A forever theme!). She makes a stop by the unemployment office looking for work (Hattie: “What’s up Estelle?” Ms. DuBois: “Were you born before 1959? Then don’t call me by my first name.”). When that doesn’t pan out, she calls her mom.
Kym Whitley plays Hattie’s mama and whenever she takes these phone calls, it’s staged to look like a Carrie Mae Weems photograph, which is easily my favorite Black cultural reference in the show. Anyway, her mom gets on her for sleeping with Ida (come thru, PFLAG parent!), and agrees to help Hattie with a hook up for a delivery gig to make some quick cash.
Is there anything else she needs? Hattie asks, “You got any dollars?”
Mama’s answer? Phone Static
WELP! She tried.
+ I couldn’t fit it into the recap, but Marie had sex with Chuck at the end of the episode and fantasized about the athlete guy the entire time. Again (sorry to be repetitive, but the show is making me)… we know where this is going!
+ Big Sean also guest starred as Nia’s ex-boyfriend
+ Since the publishing of this recap, I’ve been informed by that the “big ole swoll athlete looking man” is Iman Shupert, NBA player and Teyana Taylor’s husband. Y’all I try, but I can’t tell all these cis straight men apart.
+ Amount of times I thought to myself that Hattie would be a mistake I’d gladly make: 0 (A SHOCKER! Not my girl’s best episode)
+ Amount of times I thought to myself that Ida would be a mistake I’d gladly make: 1 (literally that entire bedroom scene about writing? a puddle!)
+ Quote of the episode: “Were you born before 1959? Then don’t call me by my first name.” — Ms. DuBois 🙌🏾