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S02.E17: Virgin/Bakr

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Heartbroken over Ariana, Al begins dating Cindy (Jayma Mays), who Riley feels is too wild for him, on the CBS Original series UNITED STATES OF AL, Thursday, March 31 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+
 

 

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Lizzie's reaction when she came into the garage and saw Riley and Al with the boxing glove....XD. Also loved Riley's story about his first time at Colonial Williamsburg. 

Good move on Al's part to hold off on sleeping with Cindy. I totally get why he'd be intrigued by someone like her, given her more carefree attitude and all (and hey, Jayma Mays, nice to see you pop up on here :)!), but Riley's advice to Al was very wise and very sound and very well-handled, and I'm glad that Al ultimately listened to him and took it into account. I really liked Riley looking out for Al as he did here, being kind of a protective big brother sort. 

And I'm glad that Al and Ariana are willing to continue seeing each other when possible, too - if they're fine with the casual setup where they're both seeing other people alongside each other, then fine. At least they're on the same page for once. How long that'll last, I'm not sure, 'cause I don't know if Al's the sort who could really do the whole "dating more than one person" thing for very long, but we'll see, I guess. 

I also liked that Al's idea of nursing a broken heart was to drink a lot of Mr. Pibb. I may have never related to him more :p. 

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I was surprised when Art asked Al in front of Hazel if he was a virgin, and Al answered.  Do they not think Hazel know what that means (even if she later didn't get the "eating cake" reference)?  That would be very unlikely.

Edited by ItCouldBeWorse
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It sounded like Al said (of the spin instructor) "I can't believe he chose her"-- didn't he mean he can't believe she chose him?

I have mixed feelings about this episode. It seems like they are washing away Al's convictions, as being more about obedience or habit than actually what's right for him. I like it better when they strike more of a balance of respect for who he is, without implying there's anything dysfunctional about it.

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33 minutes ago, possibilities said:

I have mixed feelings about this episode. It seems like they are washing away Al's convictions, as being more about obedience or habit than actually what's right for him. I like it better when they strike more of a balance of respect for who he is, without implying there's anything dysfunctional about it.

I could see this as an example of him trying to figure out for himself how much of his convictions and beliefs are his own choice versus what he's been raised to believe, and the show exploring the journey that comes with trying to sort that out and find that balance. His whole thing of how he's always been the good son, and his desire to want to live his life the way he sees everyone else around him living theirs, seems to indicate that's where they might be going - he misses his home, but he's also in a country that's more permissive in a lot of ways than what he was used to under the Taliban, so it seems inevitable he'd be affected by the conflict that comes with that. He's already tried the whole thing of gambling, so it seems inevitable that might lead him to want to explore some of the other things he's long resisted as well. And then there's the stress he's been under in recent months, which might be affecting some of his more rash, impulsive decisions to some degree as well. 

So if that's the way they're going to tackle this, as a further part of his journey to figure out what beliefs he wants to stick with and what ones he might be more flexible on, I'd be good with that. I think that could be an interesting exploration both of Al as a character specifically and in general, as a way to touch on some of the struggles that many immigrants deal with when they move to a new country. 

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Yeah, I get that. But we never see any representation of people who actually stick with what they value and aren't confused. I'd like to see that.

When we see stories about Americans going elsewhere, they always stay "more permissive" and at best are fish out of water. When we see characters come here, they always assimilate and it's always considered a victory, like they've finally been liberated. I consider it a sign of writers that don't really respect or understand as much as the show has been trying to tell us they do, when their agenda appears to be "Al changes due to the heartwarming relationship with his USA sponsors".

Notably, the only other person they've shown from Afghanistan is the woman he wants to date, who is already completely on the assimilation page. Why hasn't he sought out other immigrants? IRL, that's what would happen. Every other group does it-- seeks out "landsmen" (people from the old country, whatever it was) to connect with, but this show acts like Al is the only one around, unless he travels a long distance to that restaurant, where he finds a woman who was born here and her father who is somehow also only a passing face to the show.

Edited by possibilities
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43 minutes ago, possibilities said:

Notably, the only other person they've shown from Afghanistan is the woman he wants to date, who is already completely on the assimilation page. Why hasn't he sought out other immigrants? IRL, that's what would happen. Every other group does it-- seeks out "landsmen" (people from the old country, whatever it was) to connect with, but this show acts like Al is the only one around, unless he travels a long distance to that restaurant, where he finds a woman who was born here and her father who is somehow also only a passing face to the show.

I was going to say maybe Columbus isn't super ethnically diverse, except according to Google, they take a lot of Afghan refugees and presently 9% of their population is Afghani. So that blew my theory on that out of the water. (They're in Columbus OH, right?)  

Since they've done such a careful job with Al and his views and assimilation, I believe they'll allow him to explore a more wild side without him losing everything he believed in. It would be interesting to see if he were to stay a virgin until marriage. 

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Cindy is a bit wild but I'm glad the writer's still made her a good person who Al still want to date and get to know. I'm not a fan of the "good girl" vs "bad girl" trope. 

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On 4/1/2022 at 10:00 AM, joanne3482 said:

I was going to say maybe Columbus isn't super ethnically diverse, except according to Google, they take a lot of Afghan refugees and presently 9% of their population is Afghani. So that blew my theory on that out of the water. (They're in Columbus OH, right?)  

Since they've done such a careful job with Al and his views and assimilation, I believe they'll allow him to explore a more wild side without him losing everything he believed in. It would be interesting to see if he were to stay a virgin until marriage. 

They are in Columbus, but I don't think the 9% figure is correct.  Columbus does have a fairly large refugee population as do other cities in Ohio, but Afghanis aren't 9% of the population.  Because of the university, there is a very ethnically diverse population in that part of the city; but, in the regular middle class neighborhoods not close to OSU, the population is pretty overwhelmingly white, Protestant and politically conservative. Most Afghan refugees would be living in family groups in some of the less affluent parts of the city, I believe.  I live in Greater Cleveland and have quite a bit of experience with the refugee population through my job and that is certainly the case here.  Al wouldn't be very likely to have a lot of fellow Afghanis living near him in the part of Columbus where they seem to be living.  Many of Cleveland's Afghani refugees are former translators for the US troops and their families.  They've been coming to the US and being resettled here for years.

Columbus is kind of a weird city in that it doesn't have many suburbs and there are many middle and upper middle class neighborhoods within the city that would be suburban in other places.  The city annexed most of its suburbs in the 20th century to aid in its growth which is why, although it is the largest city population wise in Ohio, Greater Cleveland's metropolitan area has more people overall.

Edited by Rootbeer
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I'm here for Al's personal growth journey. 

 

On 4/1/2022 at 10:00 AM, joanne3482 said:

Since they've done such a careful job with Al and his views and assimilation, I believe they'll allow him to explore a more wild side without him losing everything he believed in. It would be interesting to see if he were to stay a virgin until marriage. 

 

On 4/1/2022 at 1:58 PM, Snow Apple said:

Cindy is a bit wild but I'm glad the writer's still made her a good person who Al still want to date and get to know. I'm not a fan of the "good girl" vs "bad girl" trope. 

Agreed. It's nice to see Al realize that her path may not be right for him, but it doesn't make her a bad person. I can't imagine season 1 Al doing anything but chastising her for her "improper" behavior, let alone making out with, or being alone with, a woman.

 

On 3/31/2022 at 9:36 PM, ItCouldBeWorse said:

I was surprised when Art asked Al in front of Hazel if he was a virgin, and Al answered.  Do they not think Hazel know what that means (even if she later didn't get the "eating cake" reference)?  That would be very unlikely.

Art may not have been thinking, or didn't ask a question he was 99% sure he didn't know the answer to. I can't imagine that Riley and Vanessa haven't started having the sex talk with her, and while asking Al if he was a virgin wasn't entirely appropriate, it did have the bonus of Hazel seeing someone she looks up to waiting to have sex, regardless of the reason. That could go a long way when it comes to the peer pressure that is coming in Jr. High and High School.

On 4/1/2022 at 9:10 AM, possibilities said:

When we see characters come here, they always assimilate and it's always considered a victory, like they've finally been liberated. I consider it a sign of writers that don't really respect or understand as much as the show has been trying to tell us they do, when their agenda appears to be "Al changes due to the heartwarming relationship with his USA sponsors".

Considering Al came from life under the Taliban, being "liberated" isn't a bad thing. He's experiencing a life he never thought possible, for himself, for the women he knows. He's still grappling with who he thought he was in the land he came from, what was a matter of survival, and who he may actually be, now that the threat of death doesn't impact every decision he's making. Now that the decisions he makes in America won't have immediate, negative consequences for his family. 

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