REMIX … so a mom, a washed-up musician, a disgraced daytime-TV host, a lesbian church lady, and a young rapper fresh out of rehab are going on a world tour! Six months have passed since the ladies’ impressive BET performance. As they stand under their concert-promo billboard more unified than ever, Brianna shares that she has forgiven her husband for cheating. All of a sudden, Eric appears out of nowhere, super-sweaty with a bruised face. When the girls ask him what happened, he doesn’t offer any valid response. Just a casual “I’m good.” But before you know it, a man in a black mask appears and fires a gun at Eric and the ladies.
This all happens within the first minute and a half of the second episode. What in the Straight Outta Compton?? We don’t know who the trigger-happy individual is or who got shot. My guess is Eric owes someone some money or made a bad deal that involves the ladies, and now the person is out to get revenge. It’ll be a while before we find out who got shot or who pulled the trigger because it’s now a flashback to 2001, and the ladies are in San Diego performing with rapper Cam’ron (played by Cam himself). In real life, Cam was at the height of his career in the early aughts; he had signed a deal with Roc-A-Fella, filmed Paid in Full, and became an overnight fashion sensation for his love of pink. Who could forget his iconic pink-mink-coat moment at Fashion Week in 2002?
The song is dope, and the performance is going well until Naomi is triggered by Valeria (by the end of the episode, we find out why). She stops mid-performance to express to the girls her unhappiness with the group. When Naomi drops the mic and announces that “the Nasty Bitches are dead,” fans react by booing the hip-hop quartet.
We learn the ladies disbanded at the height of their career over big egos, a love triangle, and a shady record contract. Besides the love triangle between Eric, Naomi, and Valeria, which is, in fact, very messy, after selling 40 million records, all of the women, except Valeria, were broke. Industry rule No. 4,080, record-company people and some group members are shady. The girls fell victim to bad industry practices by signing a bad deal that was orchestrated by their manager and friend, Eric. Since Eric was sleeping with — I mean, dating — Valeria, she joined his scheme and decided to only look out for herself, not her girls. One could read Valeria’s character as a self-centered woman who has used her light-skin privilege to benefit from colorism in the industry. When she approached Eric at the club in 1997, she was well aware of the optics; sex sells, and Valeria is both beautiful and sexy. As she saw it 20 years ago, she didn’t need talent. When Eric introduced her to the group, they saw his actions for what they were and called him out on it: “Is our hair not straight enough? Is our skin too dark?” Jill asked. (In real life, Naturi Naughton has had her own public battles with colorism in the industry.)
To Naomi, talent is the most essential quality, and it unfortunately made her ego big. During their prime, Naomi constantly threatened to leave the group and go solo. Her talent is ultimately why she chose her career over her love life. That and the music industry’s gender politics. If it were widely known that she was sleeping with the A&R on her label, people would have thought she got put on only because she “let Eric Jones hit.”
Twenty years later, we now see it takes more than just talent to make it in the industry. When she gets a chance to meet with music executives from Cam’ron’s label, they throw her a curveball when they say she would be the perfect “authentic” writer for a 21-year-old “exotic” artist (colorism shows up again). Caught off guard, Cam reiterates his desire to sign Naomi to his label but is met with industry cutthroat ageism. For the label exec, Naomi, in his words, “is just a 41-year-old-rapper singing folk songs who doesn’t have that undeniable something.”
So Naomi shows up at the exec’s house and performs in his front yard to prove to him that she’s a star — and it works! He suddenly sees her star quality and offers her a record deal with a catch: If she signs the deal, she will no longer be able to perform with the Nasty Bitches. She’s forced to choose between a chance at the solo career she has always dreamed of or an epic comeback with her bandmates.
Meanwhile, in Montana, Jill and her girlfriend, Tina, share an intimate moment in bed that is disrupted by Jill’s ex-husband, Darren, who proposes going poly with them. She declines, and honestly, breaking Darren’s heart is the least of her worries. Jill’s “coming out” has made local headlines, and she cannot handle it. Maybe she feels guilty about the homophobic rant/attack she went on in 1998 during their MTV Cribs set.
While Jill struggles with the increased publicity around her sexuality, Lil Muffin is in a Montana rehab facility and has difficulty getting settled, so she escapes and ends up at Jill’s house. Without really thinking over her decision, Jill decides to leave Tina in Montana and meet the girls in Los Angeles. Even though babysitting a young bubblegum rapper was not part of her plan, she allows Muffin to tag along with her.
Thankfully, in L.A., Brianna’s husband’s brain surgery was successful, and he should be cancer free after his chemo treatment. As magic would have it, post-surgery, Jeff doesn’t remember cheating on his wife. Over a glass of wine, Valeria tries to convince Brianna that he’s full of it (she really should be worried about Eric, but hey). They recap Valeria’s babysitting experience, and Brianna is shocked, but not really shocked, that Valeria took the children lingerie shopping and had them doing yoga stretches to tap into their chakras.
In something of a disguise, Jill and Muffin pop up at Brianna’s house, crashing her and Valeria’s wine night. Naomi and Eric show up immediately after them. Eric shares his good news with the entire group: He booked them a show in San Diego (the girls are scared of San Diego). As the mom, Brianna is resistant and begins babbling about her priorities and how she agreed to do only one show. She’s giving me Keisha from Total and Kandi from Xscape in this scene! (Love you, ladies!) Valeria gives her a somewhat shady reality check by reminding Brianna that Jeff “wasn’t thinking about her when he was calling a white girl a queen in their bed” (umm, ouch!). The conversation between the two group members turns into #MomLife vs. #KidFreeLife, which is tricky territory. Brianna throws a lower blow, and Valeria is visibly affected by her comment. But Jill reminds the ladies of the opportunity that’s in front of them — a second chance at friendship and finding their voices.
Naomi and E-Jones have a “moment” that she curves so smoothly by reminding him she’s not okay with what he did to their relationship. His apology is interrupted by Valeria, who asks, “What’s going on?” as she walks in the room. (I smell trouble.)
Though she’s excited to hype her man for getting the job done, he drops a bomb on her: If they don’t sell out, he owes the promoter $500K. Luckily, she has that kind of money and promises to hold her man down. Again, the two lovebirds find themselves keeping secrets from the ladies. Good thing the show sold out in 12 minutes! The Nasty Bitches are still in demand.
Before hearing the news of their sold-out show, Lil Muffin tries to escape Brianna’s house but ends up falling out the window. Jill asks to speak with her alone after the ladies scold her and crack a few jokes about her Care Bears attire. She has taken on a big sister–mentor role for Lauren (she refuses to call her Lil Muffin). The moment, however, becomes a “who can tell the other person about themselves” matchup. Jill warns Lauren (not Lil Muffin) that one drink will turn into too many, and in return, Lauren reminds her that in 2021 no one cares if she’s gay, adding, “Who isn’t a little gay?” They both have good points. Jill proposes a solution: If Lauren goes back to rehab and figures out who she is, Jill will commit to figuring out who she is. Lauren shares with the girls that she’s going back to rehab and asks them to hold her crown until she gets back.
It’s showtime! The women are in the same exact room they were 20 years ago, but Naomi is missing in action. The ladies refuse to let her stop the show. While Naomi ignores Eric’s call, P-Sex hypes the ladies, reminding them they have an opportunity to show the world they still have it, with or without Naomi.
Throughout their performance intro, the camera gives us glimpses of their current lives. Brianna’s husband returns home from the hospital, and her family is back together. Jill, with Tina standing by her side, stands up to her church. She lays out all of who she is: a Black gay rapper who is also a woman of God.
Naomi doesn’t let her girls down, though. She has some paternity issues to sort out with Cam, but she appears onstage ready to stick it out with her girls. Nasty Bitches forever!