Photo Courtesy of Bob Mahoney
No matter how much we tell ourselves that career is important, there’s always that small voice inside of us that says that we just want to be married and have a family.
In Lifetime’s With This Ring, Trista (played by a comically subdued Regina Hall) makes a vow with two of her friends, Viviane (Jill Scott) and Amaya (Eve Jeffers Cooper) to be married within a year.
It’s a typical romantic comedy premise from screenwriter and director Nzinga Stewart. Trista is a junior agent with a major Hollywood talent agency, who’s never afraid to speak her mind and go for what she knows to be right. Viviane is a successful celebrity gossip blogger and mother, who’s still in love with her child’s father, Sean (Jason George). Amaya is a struggling actress, who’s dating a married man, Keith (Deion Sanders). Keith’s wife, Kitty (Gabrielle Union) is too scary to leave, though.
In an age where men complain about women saying that they don’t need a man, this film is rather poignant. It speaks to both sides of that relationship conundrum. On one side, we don’t need a man to make our lives complete, because we have our careers and we make our own money. On the other side, we would really like to have a man (a companion to share the highs and lows of life with). Unfortunately, men get confused with our direct terminology – need vs. want – and get upset.
Stewart embodies that internal struggle most adherently through Trista, a girl from Compton, who works her butt off toward a promotion and the respect of her professional peers. But, she has animosity (or gives in to the angry black woman against black man scenario) with the only other black person at her company, Nate (Being Mary Jane’s Stephen Bishop). Nate obviously has eyes for Trista, but she doesn’t see it, because she has subconsciously began a war with her only black peer at an all-white firm.
Instead of working with Nate, she villainizes him. That is until she faces termination and he tries to come to her aid. In the end, Nate makes bold moves to show Trista just how he feels; if she would only break down the walls she’s built to protect herself. That’s, yet another thing, that we women do to get through life. We build up a wall of protection with barbed wire at the top to protect ourselves from getting hurt; which works against most jerks, but keeps us from letting the right one in.
Viviane represents another type of black woman: the demonized “baby mama.” That woman is seen as angry and bitter with her child’s father and constantly berates him. But, Viviane, early on, gives voice to the real reason for her animosity: she still loves him and is afraid to tell him for fear of rejection. So, Viviane, like many other “baby mamas” needs to get over her fear and finally be honest with the love of her life. It’s a message that we women can sometimes be our own worst enemies.
Lastly, we have Amaya, the typical side chick. The audience gets to see one of the reasons that would cause a woman to knowingly steal a man: she’s not necessarily happy with her life and thinks that she can just supplant herself in another woman’s life. That almost never works and if it does, the victory is usually short-lived.
While the plot has some holes and the story speeds too quickly in the end, With This Ring is a romantic comedy that explores the female psyche and makes us take a look at ourselves rather than blame it all on the man. It’s a great and insightful watch.