On Sunday night, one of fall’s most talked about shows, “Insecure”, ended with its season one finale. Its daily issues and triumphs were something that the show highlighted on the entire season, making it a huge favorite in the fall lineup.
Starring Issa Rae, Rae’s inspiration for the new HBO show stems from a previous web series she started back in 2011 called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”. In “Insecure”, Rae is at a crossroad in her life. She holds a job at a non-profit that isn’t the most ideal and she’s been in a relationship with her boyfriend Lawrence for years. The show rates at 100 percent on “Rotten Tomatoes” and a general consensus for the site said the show is “an insightful, raunchy, and hilarious journey through the life of a twentysomething black woman that cuts through stereotypes with sharp wit and an effusive spirit”.
“Insecure” is trying to tackle many issues, however, the main goal is “to convey that people of color are relatable. This is not a hood story. This is about regular people living life,” Rae said in an interview with the “Los Angeles Times”.
I believe the element of “convey[ing] that people of color are relatable” is something that was done extremely well. One of Rae’s cast mates on the show, Veronica Mannion, praised Rae for her being herself without a filter. In an interview with me, Mannion said, “There is no one on television who looks like Issa Rae, acts like Issa Rae or thinks like Issa Rae. Not only is she a talented actress and rapper, she’s so funny! Her humor is different, but what makes it all work is that she’s not afraid to be vulnerable and show who she is for good and bad. I think that’s what makes it so special”.
One way in which Issa Rae is so successful in conveying that people of color are relatable is through Issa’s friendships on the show. Rae’s best friend on the show, Molly, is at that same crossroad in her life where she has a steady job as an attorney but can’t seem to hold a relationship like Issa. Right when you think that something is going to stick, Molly says something or overthinks that situation, allowing us to take a quick moment to say, “Hey, I know a friend(s) that is in that same situation.” In an interview with “Vanity Fair”, Rae said this friendship is “absolutely central” to the show. She continues, “It’s so important to show that black women do have friends. We’re not all just fighting and punching each other and cursing each other out and ending up on the Shade Room together”. One of these key examples comes in the season finale after some harsh words were exchanged at a party about Molly’s dating life. Once grievances were settled, a final shot shows Issa and Molly huddled up on a couch outside Issa’s apartment complex with a bottle of wine in Molly’s hand, emphasizing Issa’s clear idea of friendship in the show.
Another way Rae has done an excellent job this season is through her relationship with Lawrence. As mentioned earlier, the beginning of the season started out very rocky. He had no job, he forgot her birthday and things seemed to being going in a very routine way for the couple. Everything changes when Issa cheats on him with an old fling. What’s next is unknown. However, Rae, who is a careful crafter, made sure that this instance in television wasn’t the “norm.” In an interview with “Entertainment Weekly”, Rae broke down the final scene with Lawrence. She said, “The idea of a woman cheating is so bewildering for a lot of men; like it’s a huge mark of betrayal for them in a way that’s kind of a double standard […] It was also important to me to have Issa cheat precisely at a moment where Lawrence wasn’t necessarily at fault; where it wasn’t about him, it was about her. I think we always think that a man has to do something for a woman to cheat, and this was very much about Issa and her decision to be ‘aggressively active’ for once. She just failed to think about what she would lose in the process.”
In terms of things that I think need to be changed are too few to count. Its diversity has always been key, and it wouldn’t be the same show that the viewers keep coming back for if they switched it up. There are so many shows that highlight the inner-workings of friendships and relationships, but HBO has offered a platform that Rae does not take lightly. In the same interview with “Vanity Fair”, Rae feels that more shows need to step up to the plate when it comes to highlighting people of color. It shouldn’t solely be placed on “Insecure”. She continues, “I feel like placing the responsibility on us, the people who talk about it all the time, who know what the fuck is going on, is where it gets irritating. That limits it to a diversity problem, and a people of color problem. And it’s an American problem”.
Television this fall taken a huge turn in the amount of shows with strong black leads with narratives that are compelling and continue to be talked about, “Insecure” included. Some examples are “Atlanta”, “Marvel’s Luke Cage”, “Blak-ish”, etc.
If I could provide any recommendation for the show, it would be to continue to keep doing what they are doing. The content is fresh, funny and necessary for the undeniable transformation that television is seeing right now. There are some characters where the plots could thicken, but the main focus for now is all on Issa, Lawrence and Molly. Each moment that is put before us on screen is hard to critique because Rae created the show from her world and has provided her reasoning for it every step of the way.