Mike Epps, Tichina Arnold

Forget the man, he can fend for himself—what do you get for the house that has everything? If the house in question is Calloway Castle, you get it soundproofing so Atlanta’s most popular basketball phenom doesn’t have to listen to his mother get the business. “M.V.P.” begins with Cam, M-Chuck, and Uncle Julius getting a rude awakening that just so happens to coincide with Cassie’s sexual awakening. Yes, from what we’ve seen, Mama Calloway is the first to christen the family’s swanky new pad by baptizing it in good ol’ fashioned sex sweat. And to think, all Cam wanted to do was enjoy a well-earned cheat day with a giant plate of Cassie’s french toast topped with the kind of pure maple syrup that looks like a bottle of Crown Royal if you’re squinting.

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Instead of dining on french toast, Cam inadvertently winds up on a journey to the center of his mother’s vagina. Cassie tells Cam she’s having a medical procedure–“lady stuff” that he shouldn’t concern himself with—and wants to make sure she’ll have money to cover it. Cam becomes convinced Cassie has cancer and is trying to conceal the diagnosis from the family, but when M-Chuck pushes further, the answer is much less scary, but much more awkward. Cassie wants a vaginal rejuvenation procedure to improve her sex life with her new beau Blair.

Initially, Cassie’s desire to have the surgery and Cam’s concern over it seems like a flimsy premise, but as “M.V.P.” takes shape, Survivor’s Remorse again distinguishes itself as one of television’s most underrated and provocative comedies. Cassie’s plan to have her “pocketbook tweaked” is a similar story to the ones Remorse has been telling since it began, a story about how extreme, sudden wealth has fundamentally changed the Calloways’ family dynamic. Cassie is a proud mother, and she’s grateful for Cam’s success, but she’s also a proud woman and doesn’t love having to go through her son in order to have a highly personal medical procedure. Cam’s not crazy about the situation either. The nouveau riche of pro sports always talk about buying their mothers houses, but they don’t often brag about buying them new vaginas.

It’s an interesting and unexpected path into a discussion about personal choice and women’s bodies. “No man should tell any woman want to do with her vag,” says a too-interested M-Chuck, and she’s right. Cassie has the right to choose the procedure, and it’s not Cam’s place to stand in her way, even though he holds the purse strings. For Cam’s part, it’s totally reasonable for him to fear the worst, particularly for a procedure he doesn’t think is important because he doesn’t place value on the quality of his mother’s sex life.

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The conversation would have happened a completely different way if Cassie wasn’t financially dependent on Cam, if it would have happened at all. Cam isn’t trying to control his mother’s body, he’s displaying basic concern for his mother’s health and well-being. No sooner than I thought about the tragic death of Donda West was Cam bringing the case up himself while he peer pressured M-Chuck and Julius into an intervention. As is often the case with Remorse, the intervention scene is hilarious (Mike Epps is terrific), and it’s underpinned by recognizable emotions and well-drawn relationships.

The only person missing from the discussion is Reggie, who is off trying to woo an odd-duck money manager (Richard Kind) as part of his larger plan to turn Cam into an empire. Reggie’s subplot doesn’t exactly sink the episode, but how much value it adds to “M.V.P.” depends on how charming the audience finds Ira Irwin’s eccentricities. But it also depends on how much the audience cares about Reggie’s personal journey. Remorse started with an idea from LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter, who ginned up a pitch based on their friendship and professional partnership. For James and Carter, Cam and Reggie are equally important to the story, but I’m not convinced it plays that way to the audience.

A story that keeps Reggie not only physically separate from the Calloways, but has him off pursuing his own endeavors, is a risky play even as it’s part of the necessarily process of building out the show’s world. The scenes between Reggie and Ira are fun, but it feels odd to have Reggie elsewhere while the Calloways are having a conversation about how to spend Cam’s money, which, heretofore, has been Reggie’s primary concern. Reggie and Missy have to be able to carry a B-story independently, but it may take some time before they can do so confidently.

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Stray observations:

  • How about that title, huh? I’m going to guess it stands for “Mama’s Vitalized P****.”
  • A long time has passed in world since “A Time To Punch.” Cam’s eye is nearly healed, and he mentions that the team lost five of the six games he missed due to the injury. Damn.
  • M-Chuck: “Ain’t a Negro I know who don’t like circus peanuts.” Uncle Julius: “You need to meet some new Negros.” Amen, brother.
  • M-Chuck to Cam, when he asks her to look into Cassie’s “lady stuff”: “I kinda love that you just called me a lady.”
  • Missy tells Cassie she isn’t interested in talking about her vagina. Cassie: “Your hair says otherwise.”
  • Cassie’s visceral reaction to the invocation of Cam and M-Chuck’s father makes me really want to know more about that history.
  • The costume designer responsible for dressing Blair deserves all the promotions.
  • The same goes for the music supervisor for trotting out The Soul Children’s “Tighten Up My Thang” for the closing credits. It’s a smarter choice than Archie Bell and the Drells, and is almost certainly way cheaper to license.

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