After the propulsion of last week’s episode, in which Issa freed herself from Daniel and the tedium of We Got Y’all, “High-Like” finds our heroine seeking a respite in the grown-up wonderland of Coachella. Issa, Molly, Kellie, and a very pregnant Tiffany are headed on a girls’ trip, a weekend bender alluded to earlier in the season. At the top of the episode, we see Issa, with a better grasp of her duties as a Lyft driver, but fretting over a lack of responses from Nathan, whom she’d hooked up with last weekend. That Nathan had been MIA shouldn’t have been surprising: recall his confession in the pool with Issa last week, that he had never had a serious relationship.
Every group outing includes a friend who is perhaps a little too enthused; among the girls Issa fills this role, with a desperation to corral her friends, especially the perennial careerist Molly, that teeters close to mania. Of the women, Issa needs the getaway the most, and she’s earned it. The leap away from the job she’d had for half a decade, and into her own spot, was a major one, and the raucous weekend is her due. One of the most hilariously relatable, and realistic, elements of this episode concerns the economic implications of the trip for Issa. That she had no place of her own until last week, and is now likely in a home without a couch but has managed to finesse a weekend at Coachella is the ultimate in millennial financial toggling.
Issa also finds herself playing personal assistant for Molly, whose work obligations seemed likely to keep her away from the trip. Issa’s fly-by-night approach to employment is countered by Molly’s staunch workaholism, and I’m left again wondering about the roots of their friendship. Molly volunteers to assist on a major briefing, a move that seems primed to guarantee her acceptance into the boys’ club of the partnership. Last week’s interaction with her two female co-workers is forgotten as neither woman is around. The complications of interracial gender politics is one I’d like to see the show tease out, if it is going to continue to focus so heavily on Molly’s workplace. Issa runs Molly’s errands for the day, then guilts her friend just enough to get her on the road, albeit a little bit behind the others.
After the initial buoyancy of arriving in Palm Springs, the first night at Coachella is a bust. Tiffany is pregnant. Issa’s overenthusiastic attitude is grating. And Kellie, the major comedic presence of this episode, takes an edible a bit too early to be of any use to anyone. When Molly arrives later that first night, she finds the girls sprawled out asleep, granting her the time and opportunity to finish her work commitments.
The next day is more eventful, with Issa waking the girls up by running about the house and slamming metal dishes together, an image which instantly conjures Tanisha from an early season of Bad Girls Club. The girls are crabby, and at first reluctant, but eventually soften to Issa’s insistence on the turn up. A couple episodes back, the girls went to dinner, and we learned of Tiffany’s anxieties about what her impending motherhood would do to her friendships. (They’d already formed a group chat without her in it.) This week, she continues to harbor the anxiety, but its source is made apparent. Issa was annoyed by Kelly needing a midday nap, then later pressures her to drink, revealing that her mom drank wine while she was pregnant. It’s not that a single glass of rosé is incredibly dangerous for a growing fetus, but the lack of consideration for a pregnant woman at a hot, exhausting, crowded Coachella is kind of dismaying. I understand that leaving Tiffany out altogether would have been inconsiderate in a different manner, but I also, again, feel that Issa treats her friends with callous disregard, especially while she practices saint-like patience with her various wayward lovers. Her phone lights up with a text from Nathan and the girls head to a party with him and his pals.
At the party, Issa & Co. are offered molly and edibles, and, surprisingly, indulge. The only character I would have expected to do so would have been Kellie. Three weeks ago, Issa had requested a passenger not to smoke weed in her car. Issa being Issa, she hinges her decision to partake in the drug on Nathan: “I will if you will,” she says coyly. He does, so she does. Again, a somewhat serious decision is only put into motion by a man. None of the friends think to stay sober to keep an eye on their pregnant friend.
They head to the main Coachella stage, where they plan to stake out prime spots to view Beyoncé’s performance. This doesn’t pan out. Everyone is high and giddy and scatter about, leaving Tiffany to hold their spots. Issa and Nathan head off together and she finally summons the nerve to ask about his lack of communication. I admired Issa’s forthrightness, but it did feel a little premature and ill-advised to expect anything out of Nathan, who seems sweet but not likely pursuing a serious commitment. Issa also subconsciously starts to rap in front of Nathan, an activity which she’d reserved for her own bathroom mirror, signaling both a comfort with him, and the encroaching intensity of her creative desires. I hope whatever her new employment is will be a creative outlet for her.
They head up to a Ferris wheel, a perfect activity while you’re high and antsy, and hook up when the ride stalls. Elsewhere, things are going south: Molly seems to be coming down, Kellie is not (and eventually gets tased by security), and Tiffany just wants to see Beyoncé. They get into a public brawl and are forced to forsake their spots. The mayhem continues back at their rental, where each woman continues her own personal spiral before they leave the next day.
That the girls failed to complete the sole mission of their vacation (see Beyoncé) is an accurate rendering of group outings, and their relationships to each other. They didn’t do what they expected to, but good times were still had and memories made. While traveling home, Tiffany expresses her concerns about her place in the group to Issa. Tiffany has always been cloying, but her vulnerability here endeared me to the character in a way I hadn’t expected. Issa heads into the gas station and bumps into a familiar figure: Lawrence, handsome and just as stunned to see her. How much has changed for both of them? Is a relationship more feasible? I guess we’ll see soon.