INSECURE Review: “Hella Great”

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*Heavy sigh: So, it’s only episode one of ’s long awaited second season, and in thirty minutes they managed to throw my emotions in about 20 different directions and I’m irritated by it all (in a good way).

The trailer of this season promised that we would see Issa in her “hoe” phase, dating all the men and learning to live her (single) life like’s it’s golden. However, episode one, ”Hella Great” teased us with the possibility of Issa and Lawrence getting back together. Now, I’ve seen all up and down social media how some of ya’ll are on team Lawrence, and the other half Team Issa. Personally I was Team “They Both Need To Get it Together,” but after this episode? Yeah I still feel the same way.

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So we reconnect with Issa on a montage of Hinge and Bumble dates – attempting to get her life back in order. None of the potential guys are as bad as you’d suspect they’d be, but Issa struggles to maintain interest in them. Out of her own mouth, she’s dead inside, in full regret mode and would much rather be with Lawrence than anyone. I guess what they say is true: you always want what you can’t have, right?

Even though we watch her sabotage date after date, she tries to play it off in front of Molly, acting like she’s not desperately missing Lawrence. She does reveal that the two have limited contact, although their communication has been limited to texts about apartment stuff. Molly lets her know that she’s proud of her for trying to pick up the pieces, and in the hopes of making her feel better, lets her know that men tend to come back when they see that you’re much happier. Later, we’ll see that Issa takes this advice as a manipulative guideline, but at this point in the episode we’re just hoping that Issa can get her groove back.

Molly has officially gone to see a therapist, but isn’t exactly open with her problems. At work, she discovers her white male counterpart is getting paid substantially more than her, and now she must figure out how to handle the situation.

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Meanwhile at work, Issa struggles to kick off the program at East 41st Street School, where high schoolers are proving to be wayyy more of a challenge than middle schoolers. Take it from someone who had a rocky teenagehood…. Yeah I wouldn’t be checking for Issa and her pamphlets either. Because of the low response rate from the highschoolers, Issa’s boss threatens to pull the program, but Issa convinces her to give her another shot.

Just when we think Issa has hit the lowest she can go, she finally gets a stroke of luck, in the form of a jury summon for Lawrence. She immediately figures that will be her way in – he has to come back and pick up his mail now right?! After getting Lawrence to agree to come over to pick up his mail, Issa decides to throw a “wine-down” at her place. Molly thinks it’s just a way for Issa to help cope with her new singlehood, but really Issa decides to throw the wine-down the same night that Lawrence is supposed to pick up his mail so it seems like she’s “doing better without him.” She has a whole “what I’m going to say to him when I see him” montage and all.

So a few things happen at the wine down: we meet her brother for the first time, we learn that Molly has just found out that she’s getting paid less than a white lawyer at her firm, and we watch Issa’s face fall when she realizes Lawrence isn’t coming.

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Now’s a perfect time to point out that Lawrence is over at Tasha’s house doing exactly what we saw him doing at the end of season one – being nasty and kindddd offff emotionally manipulative. I mean, we all know he’s just using her to cope (or not cope) with his feelings for Issa right. Right???

When Lawrence isn’t having sex with Tasha, he lives with his best friend– the one that really shouldn’t be married. Lawrence lives on an air mattress in the living room and is slowly looking for a new place to live. His best friend teases him about Tasha, and Lawrence maintains that they’re just “having fun.” However, the look in Tasha’s eyes let me know that that might not be the case for her. The night of the wine-down, he decides to take Tasha out on their first real date. Just like Issa, it’s clear that Lawrence isn’t exactly into it, even though he tries to be.

Back at the wine-down, things have gotten out of control. The Bloods themselves have infiltrated Issa’s party, and another group of fine neighborhood guys have brought the weed. Things come to a head when somehow the trashcan in Issa’s kitchen gets set on fire, effectively shutting the entire party down.

Later that night, and alone in her PJ’s Issa gets a knock on the door – surprise it’s Lawrence, here to come get the mail. While at first the reunion is timid, and actually pretty sweet, things take a turn for the better/worse when Lawrence lunges at her. The two have a full minute of really intense sex, leaving Issa smiling on her couch when Lawrence rushes out afterwards.

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I absolutely enjoyed the start of this season! Coming off of last season, there’s a certain flow and style that this show has created for itself that really helps accentuate the storytelling and the directing. Also, what I loved the most about this episode was that it acknowledged that we’ll be getting more backstory from both Issa and Molly. While Molly’s storyline wasn’t the biggest it did reveal that Insecure is about to “go there” with ya’ll this season, starting with white people getting paid more than black people in the work place and the struggle (and sometimes guilt) that comes with figuring out how to confront the situation as a black person. Molly’s been shown to be one of the best at the firm, so how will her superiors handle being confronted by the “black woman they weren’t scared of?” As of last season, it’s clear that they have an issue with non-conforming black women, so if Molly brings up getting paid less (and the reasoning behind it), will they hold her so near and dear?, I’m guessing not, but I hope she gets her raise – for the culture.

Okay, so now let’s deal with Issa and Lawrence. First of all I’ll be honest, I can’t pick sides because the depiction of their relationship is so real that I feel both of them. On the one hand Issa slept with a whole other person, and while I get that Lawrence was not an ideal partner, the best course of action would’ve been to break up with him. Period. However, I feel like Lawrence is trying to get away with being an emotional manipulator and I see right through his narrow behind. Not only was he a pretty trifling boyfriend that took Issa for granted, but now he’s using Tasha as a way to cope with his own feelings. Now I’m not saying he should get back with Issa if he doesn’t want to (see above), but he’s definitely playing with someone else’s emotions, someone that clearly likes him, for his own selfish intentions.

I’m not going to lie I was clutching my little heart when the two of them saw each other at the end. I’m a sucker for “soulmates” coming back together after pain, so I admit I was smiling like a fool when they were having their little small talk. Storywise, I loved the sex scene: a) it shows that Lawrence’s character has changed and he’s becoming increasingly more aggressive and potentially harmful and b) it sets up the dramatic will they, won’t they and c) damn, I feel like Issa is in a world of hurt. That sex scene is exactly why I love the shows direction – it’s pretty real. And it wasn’t a drawn out, romantic “oh I miss you” scene, it was minute quickie full of passion and hurt and those two things combined can be dangerous.

So we’ll see. I still maintain that the two are bad for each other, and I was hoping to see growth from the both of them that would make it easier for them to go back together. But I don’t know, we could be headed down an ugly path that no one emerges from. And I’ll be watching with my popcorn.

TB-TV-Grade-A

Season 2, Episode 1 (S02E01)
Insecure airs Sundays at 1030PM on HBO

Read all of our reviews of Insecure here. 
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Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
Keep up with all of Vanessa’s reviews here.

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