April 8, 2020, Michelle is riding a scooter around the house while her mother talks to her through the cameras placed around the house. Imani (Danielle Brooks) is at work while trying to go through a process of rules that Michelle has to remember while being home alone. It would seem that Imani is a caretaker for a Ms. Earnestine, who points out that Imani is not wearing a proper mask. Ms. Earnestine is unable to move and speak and is hooked up to a machine that assists with her communication. While Imani is looking away, she almost misses Michelle putting foil covered food into the microwave. Luckily, she is able to direct Michelle into unplugging the appliance before anything happens.
Ms. Earnestine video calls her daughter, Marion. Marion is struggling with the campus closing, new trainings for classes moving to online. Ms. Earnestine wants Marion to come visit her. Michelle hits up Imani about her homework struggles, which Imani points out is not an emergency and to sound it out. Ms. Earnestine states that Marion never has time for her, and Marion points out that when she was a child her mother never had time for her, made her feel like a plague, and now she is working hard so that she can pay for someone to take care of her mom. Whew! I need therapy to be cheaper because this is a lot to unpack. Marion notices that Imani is replying to Michelle and asks about her. Marion gets off quickly.
Michelle hits up Imani with a video asking her when she would be coming home, repeatedly. When Imani checks on Michelle on the cameras at home, Michelle is nowhere to be found. Michelle walks in, casually stating that she was reading her book on the roof. As a latchkey kid, I knew so much better than to do this. I don’t even know how I would cope with my parents watching me on camera all the time.
During Marion’s class, she struggles with students who are home and not paying attention to what is going on. She initially ignores the call from her mother, Earnestine, and the message from Imani, but then pauses her class to call them back. It would seem that the place Earnestine is staying is implementing a lockdown. Only facility staff allowed not supplemental workers, which means both Marion and Imani will not be able to see her. Marion wants Imani to stay with Earnestine because the facility staff doesn’t do enough. Did she forget that Imani has a whole child and can’t just live elsewhere? Pay or no pay?
Imani informs Marion that she can’t do all that; she doesn’t have child care. Marion is shocked and asks who is watching Michelle. Imani explains her situation and asks if Marion can’t come and stay. Marion ends her class to try to handle things. Imani thinks that Marion would be able to teach her class from the facility but Marion doesn’t think her students can handle that. Earnestine nearly asks if Marion ever told them that they will die sometime soon. Okay mama, too dark. Marion wants to know if Michelle can stay at the facility, which makes no sense to me. Earnestine comes through with an idea.
Marion’s Zoom class is proceeding as everyone is dealing with their roommates, background noise, and partners. Michelle comes up to Marion and asks her for help. Michelle then proceeds to be a nuisance as she lives with Marion but at least she has her students’ full attention. Imani is able to have videos up in Marion’s home to stay in touch with her daughter. Marion is struggling with having a child at home. Imani notices that Michelle is watching Stranger Things. The whole time Marion is busy with Zane (Misha Brooks), a student on Zoom, but stops when she notices how loud the TV is getting. Marion goes out to check on Michelle and finds that Imani is watching. The two women hop on a video call. Neither notices Michelle sneaking to Marion’s office to talk about how things are not working. Imani points out how Marion is not taking care of Michelle but Marion points out she is doing better than what Imani was doing. As the two women talk, a staffer says that Earnestine is asking for Imani.
Michelle is chilling, listening to Zane play and sing a song when she answers a call from Earnestine who is looking for Marion. Michelle states that Marion is fighting with Imani. Zane and Earnestine hear each other and ask Michelle who is the other person. Zane asks Michelle to share the screen, then talks her through it, with prompts from Earnestine helping. Zane and Michelle sing it out, getting Michelle to click on his screen. Marion comes back and tells Michelle to get down, but Michelle has a fit and runs around the office, screaming and crying. Marion has a breakdown, yelling at Michelle. not noticing that Earnestine is on a call, too. Marion apologizes to Michelle and asks for a hug. Imani checks on Earnestine, which Marion hears. She clicks on Earnestine’s call and they are all in for a surprise when Earnestine “sings” out the words that Zane was teaching Michelle. Michelle laughs then she and Marion enjoy Zane’s song together.
I can’t even imagine having to deal with this. Before lockdown, I was working with kids at an elementary school. When we had to switch to at home learning, it was not easy on anyone. We struggled. My mother still had to work at a nursing facility and her patients had to struggle with no visitors, too. However, combining the two makes me thankful for my current kidless lifestyle. Lord have mercy.
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Lebo Malatse is a content creator and writer. She’s an avid reader, tv and film lover, and traveler. To read more of her work, check out her site: lbmalatse.wixsite.com/website and journey into the worlds that she creates.