Survivor’s Remorse Recap: #ImWithMissy

Jessie T. Usher as Cam, RonReaco Lee as Reggie. Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/Starz Entertainment, LLC
Survivor's Remorse
Episode Title
No Child Left Behind
Editor’s Rating

My new hashtag oughta be #ImWithMissy. I sided with her last week when she refused to apologize for opposing the way women of her skin tone are represented in mass media, and I most certainly agree that likening a Jewish bris to ritual female genital mutilation is a false equivalency. I'm less qualified to comment on her beef with Cam's photo-shoot model than matters of Semitic tradition, but on the whole, I identify with Missy's temperament — regardless of her worldview.

"No Child Left Behind" left me simply in awe of Survivor's Remorse's latest narrative sleight of hand. In retrospect, the episode's title says it all, though who really anticipated that the theoretical A-story — Cam panicking after finding Uncle J's pimp gun — would be a red herring for the real revelation: that Cassie's new Nigerian friend is readying to remove her daughter's clitoris in Cam's living room? And how the hell did we even arrive there? Missy, naturally, might revel in an "I told you so" after she warned Cassie that sending her saliva through the mail to a genetics-tracking company was risky business. Though in fairness, the results of her sample — pointing to majority Nigerian roots — initially reap revelations, thanks in large part to her rapport with restaurateur Eka (Anniwa Buachie, who is in fact British-born and of Ghanaian descent). That connection leads to some "Earth Goddess ass-clap" bonding, trying on tribal headdresses appropriate for "the Grand Wizard for the gay-pride parade," and an $18,000 party for Eka's daughter at the Calloway crib.

Everything seems perfectly enriching until Eka's daughter asks Cassie to prepare her "bath." (And here I thought the twist would be that Eka exaggerated her African affectations to pull one over on her wealthy new friends.) Cue Missy's outrage, both for the Dexter tarp that's laid out for the occasion and Cassie's ignorance about FGM. That, and her having failed to read that one Alice Walker book because, as she sees it, "Just get away from Danny Glover already."

That last line was one in a succession of LOLs that surely left most viewers' mouths agape, mine included. The confrontation between Missy and Eka could be cited as an instance of Survivor's Remorse being a tad overwritten, a frequent criticism volleyed in the comments of these recaps. But when the content is so pointed, the topic so timely, and the choice of language so priceless, so what if it's vicious or verbose? Nobody ever accused Veep of being a mouthful. Nor was this scene in question any less of a genius juggling act than what Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her ensemble get up to. With Missy and Cassie's Abbott-and-Costello routine over the World Health Organization ("Oh, that WHO. I was like, "Who?"), M-Chuck and Squeeze's Borscht Belt–worthy one-two punch ("We don't cut clits here, because it is wrong." "And also because we can't find ’em.") and both Missy and Eka standing their ground in a war of words over sacrilege and women's rights, it's a doozy. Moreover, it confirms the show's commitment to keep pushing itself without simply provoking. Survivor's Remorse understands that our world is never without fodder for satire, and that attempting to shoehorn every script into sitcom formula is far more painstaking than speaking truth.

That doesn't mean it's perfect, of course. And if we're being honest, Cam and Reggie discovering Julius's nickel-plated .45 is a bit facacta. Though, it does allow for some golden moments, like Clay Beckwith (is his surname a knowing slight to Byron De La Beckwith?) manipulating the weapon with alarming ease, and an against-type cop encouraging Cam not to be "a pussy" by turning it in. The notion of two black men literally not being able to give their gun away has potential, but the random series of circumstances and knee-jerk reactions necessary to arrive at that punchline are somewhat strained. Ditto the tacking-on of Cam, Jimmy, and Reggie attending a bris to bring all the threads together. Though, kudos are definitely due for appending Diane's sobering recitation of how a gun put her in a wheelchair with the peeling back of her casual Islamophobia. (Tragically, the actress who plays her, Teal Sherer, was actually paralyzed after a car accident.)

All in all, season three continues on its roll, even as it over-fulfills its sense of obligation to Julius. The only pressing questions left: Whether Cassie can finally feel at peace with who she is (that open end is, justifiably, hard to address without mention of her brother); if M-Chuck will get the scoop on her deadbeat dad and make good on going to college; whether my hunch about Missy gestating a mini-Reggie is on point; and how Chen and Allison can cement their role in this extended family, which seems to have only gotten tighter with one man down. We'll see how the writers rise to the challenge, but know this: At least there's less at stake than the fate of that poor girl's clitoris.

Apart From All That:

  • Missy really is a magnet for these things, huh?
  • Sweet turntable, Uncle J.
  • M-Chuck's supposed to be 28?
  • Don't know how on-the-fly they write these scripts, but is that Tom Brady rant a dig at Ben Affleck?
  • "It's only through self-deprecation that one assimilates into America." L'chaim, Eka.
  • Cam may listen to Mark Twain on tape, but make no mistake, Reggie: "I went to college. I know words."
  • Dupsie's is real.
  • Just call me "gun-fucky" from now on.
  • Actually, just call me an Ashkenazi non-American.
  • Love little word choices like Cassie's "ever laid step on earth."
  • Only in this show would "you look like Viola Davis in an orange chef's hat" be a compliment.
  • By the way, the breakfast at your average bris is spectacular.