“Jersey Strong” (1.7) recap: Jersey, Bloody Jersey

Jersey, Bloody Jersey: There’s been another shooting on Jayda’s block, this time right before her window. Jayda, disgusted with the violence, decides to temporarily move into a hotel rather than stay in potential danger. After hearing the news, Creep rushes to his family’s side. Unfortunately the hotel is only a temporary solution to the bullets whizzing by their window. Jayda and Creep need to come up with the money for a safer home, and they need to come up with it fast.

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At the firm, Brooke’s hubris is brewing up a new money-making plot. “I could never live without my law practice, it’s like air to me, but I’m also an entrepreneur.”  Whenever someone on reality television identifies as an entrepreneur, I inwardly cringe. IN ADDITION to identifying as a spirited lawyer and fledgling hip-hop mogul, Brooke wants to create LEGALVICE the SOCIAL NETWORK. According to Brooke, Brooke is Johnnie Cochran, Dr. Dre, and Mark Zuckerberg all rolled into one Jersey power lesbian. That almost sounds delusional.

SOCIALVICE will be a social networking site for lawyers, a colorful community for America’s least colorful white collar profession. Think of the humor! The jokes! So many jokes. When I look at the internet I think to myself, “What if we could segregate our social networking profiles into professional websites so I could only be contacted and viewed by people in my field? Work and social would never again have to be separate! No longer will I be forced to virtually see and interact with anyone outside my socioeconomic stratum! An online community of lawyers, what jolly good fun! Why I’d wager everyone will want to join!”

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Brooke: Maggie is involved in all of my—wait, I’m sorry—Maggie is involved in all of OUR ventures.

Freud meet slip.

Creep takes his kids to the park for some bonding. Although Creep and Jayda remain officially not together, he’s determined to be a good father figure. Jayda, along with several Ph.D. holding specialists, come together to mentor young ladies at a local school. When Jayda’s turn to present comes, she brings up the local shooting and begins a dialogue about safety.

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Horribly, several children present have already been personally affected by local violence; one young woman was even hit by a bullet in the crossfire. The kids view these shootings as an inevitable part of life. When encouraging the students to speak up and fight for change rather than accept such dangerous conditions, Jayda lights up. Afterwards, the other specialists offer Jayda some much needed approval and support.

Since Jayda’s son wants to be a surgeon, Jayda takes him to meet a black surgeon who also grew up in a tough part of town. While waiting, she amuses her child with some depressing statistical factoids.

Jayda: Homicide is the leading cause of black men between the ages of 15-34.

Jayda is an intense mother. For good reason.

Back to manic Brooke, dancing in bedazzled black flip-flops at “the studio.”

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She feels very cool calling it that: the studio. She’s helping Queen Ella, a former client, cut an album, leaving Maggie to run the law firm. Maggie is not a lawyer.

When Jayda comes to Brooke for help launching a non-profit, she finds an office in Brooke’s building. I’m actually really excited for Jayda. She can do this. I’d put money of Jayda’s non-profit over Brooke’s social network/rap proteges any day. Brooke and Maggie put their LEGALVICE proposal to an investor/fellow entrepreneur. He asks for an elevator pitch, then explains what an elevator pitch is, and I wonder if it’s normal to receive a lesson before asking people for money. The dynamic duo have only a minute to WOW him. Maggie raises up the LEGALVICE presentation poster to show Brooke resplendent in Kingly attire on a throne.

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That picture of Brooke is the only visual they’ve brought for an internet startup. Brilliant, guys. Really clever stuff. Brooke is The Sun King of New Jersey, looking quite attractive but also quite silly and terribly vain. Brooke gives an enthusiastic if sprawling presentation, but Investor Entrepreneur is not impressed. He tells Brooke to identify a problem that she’s solving with her product, then points out that if Brooke is working 18-hour law days, she won’t be able to fully focus on LEGALVICE.

Investor Entrepreneur: If someone said, “Brooke, I’m going to invest a million dollars on the condition that you quit law to focus full time on LEGALVICE,” what would you do?

Brooke and Maggie cackle gleefully at the mouthwatering prospect of a million dollars. Not a reassuring reaction.

Brooke: I guess I’d have to take a break.

Investor Entrepreneur: Is that a yes?

Brooke: That’s a yes.

Investor Entrepreneur: A thousand or a million, you’re asking for real money before you have anything real to show an investor.

He points to the “Brooke Bonaparte” poster, which bears zero visible relevance to a legal social network cyber start up. “This is great, this is beautiful, but you need a real product to show investors.”

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Thank God someone said it. Brooke looks dazed. “I just got a reality check.” Yay! She finally understands! Good for you, Brooke. Hopefully she doesn’t forget this lesson when a shiny object crosses her path.

Creep and Jayda saunter through the streets of New Jersey, discussing past, future, present.. Even though they’ve broken up, Creep proposes moving into a three bedroom home. Jayda, looking torn, suggests it might be better to get her own house with the kids. She wants to do what’s best for herself as well as what’s best for her children. Jayda wants Brooke’s help setting up the non-profit, but has been getting “mixed signals and mixed vibes.” She’s right to wonder.

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Brooke is too busy with her many personal start ups to help Jayda launch a non-profit. Brooke likes to focus on Brooke, and business ideas that will put Brooke on a poster. Jayda confronts Brooke (and sullen slavic henchman Maggie) about her noncommittal attitude towards 9 Strong Women. Maybe if Jayda wanted to cut an album?

Jayda: I’ve been getting an indifferent vibe from you. One minute it’s “What’s good, good looking?” and the next minute it’s “I’m on trial next week.”

Maggie the Hun jumps in ‘cause she loves a good fight. Condescendingly, Maggie dismisses Jayda’s concerns and bitchily informs Jayda that “this is our office and talk a little bit lower and everything is calm,” as if Jayda was a hysterical child. Jayda’s voice was as soft as Maggie’s, and it’s beyond insulting to treat Jayda like an “angry black woman” rather than a family friend. Ugh. Maggie is so rarely kind and so commonly critical. To demonstrate indifference, Maggie begins scrolling through her pink iphone rather than acknowledge Jayda with eye contact.  Jayda stays calm and continues speaking at a reasonable volume.

Jayda: If you want to work with 9 strong women, then we work. If you don’t, then we don’t.

Maggie: For trying to help you, I get attacked?! Are you kidding me.

Jayda: So you feel attacked? When did you start feeling attacked?

Maggie: You’re attacking me now!

Jayda finally drops the calm composure.

Jayda: You’re not my only option. I can call one of the people I’ve been working with.

Brooke: This doesn’t work for me. Sorry.

Jayda’s voice breaks. She looks on the verge of tears. Brooke looks like she wants Jayda to go away so Brooke can go back to photoshopping her face on posters.

When Jayda leaves, she puts Brooke’s bullshit in perspective.

Jayda: Let’s stop pretending you’re helping the poor black girl out the hood. I don’t think any dollar signs or any net worth should make you feel like you can just disrespect people.

Amen.

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