“I don’t want to be a dumb b***h”, a mantra many have lived by but few have had the courage to voice on television. Thank you, Issa Rae.
Coming off of her successful, relatable, and funny as hell web series, The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl (which if you haven’t seen yet GO WATCH), fans of Issa Rae excitedly waited with anticipation for the release of her new HBO show, INSECURE. And disappoint she did not.
Insecure is a comedy about main character, Issa Dee, a 29-year-old woman who’s just realized that her life isn’t exactly going in the direction she’d like it to. The series starts out on Issa’s 29th birthday, where she realizes things have to change now while she’s young.
First of all, can I just pause the review to thank Issa for bringing two black women BEST FRIEND characters back to TV? Can we applauded her for showing two black women representing the beautiful, fun, and sometimes messy bond that I hope every black woman has in her life? Can we give her a standing ovation for demonstrating the relationship between two black women in a real, positive light? Tens across the board.
As soon as “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar began playing, I knew it was a wrap. I loved it.
During the pilot episode, “Insecure as F**k”, we’re introduced to Issa Dee (played by Issa Rae), as she stands in front of a classroom hoping to answer questions about the non-profit after school program she works for. Instead of inspiring the youths of the classroom, the bad ass little kids begin insulting her love life, her job, her clothes, and the way she talks. As Issa continues to get dragged by a bunch of kids, we learn that she is working a job she hates, is in a long-term relationship that has no prospects of going anywhere, and is generally despondent with where she is in life. So she’s like 99.9% of everyone ever.
After the brutal classroom scene, we’re introduced to her job, a non-profit org for minority youths run entirely by white people, where she is the token black person. We also meet her live – in, trifling boyfriend Lawrence. Issa and Lawrence have been together for 5 years, and child, he’s the man of every woman’s nightmares. He’s the guy that lies around eating up all your damn cereal while proclaiming, “ I swear, I’m going to get my life together!” No. Meanwhile, her best friend, Molly (played by Yvonne Orji), appears to have it all, but suffers from no body wants me “broken p**** disorder” (Issa’s words not mine).
So Issa, fed up over her life and pathetic boyfriend (who by the way, suggests they celebrate her birthday by renting a DVD from the 7/11), decides to crash an open mike night and rekindle with her “one that got away”, Daniel. Before she leaves for the open mike, she calls it off with Lawrence. Kind of, sort of. She’s hits him with the ole’, “I think we should talk about this later.”
At the open mic she getson stagee and raps (a callback to her Awkward Black Girl character), spilling all of her friend’s relationship woes for the entire crowd. The rap sequence is basically Issa screaming about broken lady parts for about a minute, which offends Molly and causes them to fight. During their fight, Issa receives an invite from Daniel to meet him at his place. She goes; ready to lay it all out on the line, and he crushes her dreams by letting her know he’s not interested in a relationship. Tail between her legs, Issa returns to Molly, ready to make up for ditching her for Daniel. They make up and leave us waiting to find out how they’re going to handle their own separate crisis’s next week.
I’m going to be honest; I was determined to like this show no matter what. Thank goodness I don’t have to lie to ya’ll and pretend it’s good. It is. What I love about Insecure so far is that it brings a unique and real perspective to young adult women struggling to find themselves. I’m going to skip right over the shade and get right to the point; it’s a breath of fresh air from HBO’s entirely (or almost entirely) white cast of Girls. It’s a combination of hilarity and cultural realness. Seeing Molly exclaim her frustration of how black men don’t want her, hit me right in the feels. It was nice to see Molly open the door for Issa in her headscarf (cause I was definitely wearing mine while I watched the episode). Most of all, in the wake of #blackgirlmagic, as a black girl that doesn’t always feel so “magical”, it was nice to see another black girl dealing with her life falling apart.
On a real note, the story that was told in the first episode wasn’t anything groundbreaking – but it was relatable. The gem of this show is that yes, while all audiences could 100% enjoy this show, it makes sure to give a special nod to its black audience. Without screaming out “MESSAGE!” , the pilot delivered quite a few points relating to the struggles of dating and navigating the world as a black woman. Sure, it’s not hard for all of us (and hopefully by the time this review posts that last statement will be irrelevant), but I know my girlfriends and I could relate.
I have to hammer in the point here that this show is for everyone. If you enjoy Girls, there’s no reason why you’re not watching Insecure. I repeat, IF YOU’RE WATCHING GIRLS, YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING INSECURE.
Personally, I cannot wait to see how the hell Issa’s going to turn her life around, if she’s going to quit her job, and if she’ll discover herself by the time she’s 30. Hopefully she’ll figure it all out before me so I can just copy what she’s doing.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
Insecure airs Sundays 1030PM on HBO
Writer based in LA. Just trying to write good stuff while deep conditioning my hair.
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Vanessa Jay | Contributor