Khalil In ‘Survival Of The Thickest,’ Explained: How Can Love Change A Man? 

We wouldn’t be wrong to think Khalil is definitely everyone’s new favorite bestie in town. He’s funny, he’s understanding, he’s nice, and he’s also an artist! What more could a girl want in a best friend? And yes, he pulls off a mean fit and is very charming. Unlike the usual best friend-to-lover trope, we get to see Khalil grow as a separate person from Mavis, which is fantastic. We don’t get the crap about him being blind to how stunning she was the whole time, until a breakup or something like that woke him up from his daze, and now all he can think about is his best friend. Instead, we get a wonderfully supportive best friend who knows all the dirty details and still has boundaries.

Spoilers Ahead

Khalil, played by Tone Bell, is a simple character with many layers that he hides behind. Tone does a great job of balancing out the emotions and vulnerability with the hot and playful. We know from the start that Khalil is a great guy because of the way he treats Mavis and how he talks about his art—his passion. But Khalil lacks commitment even at 38, and in this first season of Survival Of The Thickest, we see him learn to commit when he finds a new girl he really likes. India is fascinating, and she’s exactly Khalil’s type, as he quickly learns. After spending just one day with her, he wants to keep her with him, so he goes out of his way to purchase a couch for his house. We understand that Khalil’s never been one for a committed relationship, not even one that has girls stay over. With India, things start to change, and he realizes he needs to be more vulnerable to feel understood. When India and he start getting close, he’s the one who likes her first and decides to take things to the next level. But, because of his experiences, he doesn’t really tell her how he feels; he just thinks that his actions are enough. At least he has Mavis and Marley to tell him how to deal with the situation the right way. While every relationship begins all peachy and fun, things start going downhill when Khalil puts up his walls in front of India. She’s happy to be his girlfriend, but she won’t be able to tell him that if he doesn’t ask.

Khalil And Marley

After Mavis’ breakup, all she can do is hang out with her two best friends, and although they’re worlds apart (in every way possible), she would love for them to interact and be friends too. While both are skeptical at first, they’re both open to each other so that they can help Mavis better. Khalil even gets Marley to paint so that she can let out her emotions, and everything changes for them from then on. It’s interesting to see Mavis’ friends be so drastically different from each other yet love her equally. The trio is a delight to watch and, eventually, a force to be reckoned with. As a black man, Khalil’s profession, his work, and his appearance stand out because he’s doing something different, something that may be considered emasculating. So he feels a little better about himself when he gets validated by Marley, a strong, independent black woman.

India and Khalil have their first big fight when they react differently to a racist Karen while he’s working. Khalil doesn’t appreciate modifying his art, but eventually, with the blessings and push of all the people around him, he decides to do it, specifically for people of color. When he has to paint the wall outside of a black-owned cafe, he’s delighted to do it, but when a white woman asks Khalil for a permit and threatens to call the cops, Khalil refuses to show her the permit he has. India, on the other hand, is very keen on showing the woman exactly what she wants, and this puts Khalil off. Eventually, Mavis and India follow Khalil away from the street, even though he asks for some time alone. According to Khalil, the fact that India was trying to show the lady his permit was what upset him the most. At that moment, he isn’t able to articulate his feelings very well, but later, after some marijuana in their system and watching Mavis make a fool of herself, they’re able to talk to each other. A few days earlier, India’s son Cooper had been called the n-word, and India was still trying to deal with that. She’s afraid her son will turn violent if he doesn’t feel supported, but she doesn’t know how to make him feel that way. At the end of the day, they’re all going through things, and Khalil just needs to open up and make sure he is honest with India.

India’s Family 

When Khalil finds out that India has a son, he subverts expectations and doesn’t run away from his problems but instead confronts them head-on. He is good with Cooper, India’s son, and he likes him too. India also sees all the effort Khalil puts into their relationship, even teaching the kid how to roller skate and paint. We also learn that Khalil grew up with a single mom, so he understands Cooper on a deeper level, but at the same time, he may be more in touch with his feminine side than Cooper’s dad. When Cooper’s dad meets Khalil, he and his son make fun of Khalil for not being able to hold his spice and for being “different” from them. All the hard work from before was washed away by a chicken wing, but Khalil still pushes through because he loves India. Unfortunately, though, Cooper’s dad takes advantage of this and tells India that Khalil can’t be invited to Cooper’s rollerskating birthday party. The boy learned the trick for Khalil himself, so how can he not be invited? This is what irks Khalil in the end. He doesn’t appreciate the fact that India can’t fight for him with her ex-husband, and so he decides to take a break in the end.

Khalil has been vulnerable with India, showing her all of his cards, but still, she’s unable to do this one thing for him, so he gets upset. At the end of the season, we’re left hanging with a will she or won’t she situation. We’re definitely rooting for Khalil and India because they bring out the best in each other. I mean, Khalil bought a whole couch because of her; isn’t that proof enough? Maybe next season, the conflicts will revolve around moving in together and what’s next. Fights keep happening, but it’s how they deal with them in the end that makes their relationship stronger. We sure hope India will realize that what she has with Khalil is more important than Cooper’s dad’s jealousy and come back to him.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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