INSECURE Review: “Racist as F***”

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There were so many fantastic quotes that I could’ve used from this week’s episode, but the quote of all quotes this week had to be: “F*** your tacos.” I mean, who hasn’t said this at least once? Just me?

In this week’s episode of INSECURE, “Racist as F***”, Issa finally gets a win, Molly is problematic as hell, and I actually root for Lawrence. You might need to reread that last sentence. I said, I actually rooted for Lawrence. Ya’ll know how hard I was on Lawrence? How many people I slandered his name to? Now Insecure has the nerve to make him sympathetic?? After this episode, I felt like I needed to text Lawrence like, “we good?”

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So far, this has been my favorite episode of the series. The first two episodes definitely weren’t afraid to dive in on issues that black women face both in the workplace and in the dating realm, but this episode gave us a cornucopia of “aw snap, they went there” moments. From respectability politics to the mistreatment of black women, this episode showed me that Insecure is exactly what I’d hoped it be and more.

In “Racist as F***” we pick back up with Issa and Lawrence, who although seem to have decided to remain together after last week’s non-fight, are living in an awkward tension that will make you scream, “Just break up already!” In an attempt to salvage his relationship with Issa, Lawrence goes on countless interviews, of which Issa can give a rat’s hat about. Issa can barely focus on the relationship, as her attention is on work, where her beach cleanup idea is being ridiculed by her coworkers who have been having “white meeting” and sending “white emails” about the project behind her back.

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At work, Issa is forced to abide by the people of color mantra: “you have to be twice as good” in order to prove that her beach cleanup project is strong and that she can be a leader. While a bus full of kids initially prove to be a handful, Issa comes out on top, and the beach day is successful.

We learn that Lawrence is a Georgetown graduate, who is working with a headhunter to find him a . He’s gone on numerous interviews, which all have gone exceedingly well, but can’t seem to snag a (I have a suspicion of why no one is hiring him – but let’s not “bring color into it” just yet). The headhunter tells Lawrence he should think about scaling down and getting an hourly somewhere (read: Walmart cashier) until he can get hired in a permanent position. Initially, Lawrence is not trying to be about that life, and understandably so wishes to get a in his field, using skills that he has a whole ass degree for. This further fuels Issa’s disdain for him, until….

Ya’ll, my heart exploded. Lawrence, realizing he has to take care of business regardless of how low it makes him feel, takes a sales position at Best Buy. He decides to break the news to Issa by cooking her a dinner and putting together a nice table set up so that they can talk. Issa ignores his effort, taking a plate of food and choosing the television over talking to Lawrence. Lawrence finally looses his cool when Issa spills food over the couch, which he’d meticulously cleaned that day. The two begin to argue as Lawrence attempts to clean the spot. Finally, Issa pauses, remembering the memories that they made on the couch and, more importantly, how she herself has pulled away during the course of their relationship. She realizes that the state of the relationship has part to do with her own actions. Finally, she apologizes, admitting that she can’t put it all on him. He lets her know about the Best Buy and Issa assures Lawrence “she’s in this”. It’s so cute ya’ll, go watch the scene if you haven’t seen it. Call your boo. Call your ex.

Their story ends with them getting rid of the couch, indicating a fresh start in their relationship.

Sigh…. Now Molly.

I had to give Molly her own separate section because she TRIED IT this entire episode. Ya’ll remember the guy from the last episode, Jared? Apparently, he and Molly have continued to go out on dates and he’s proven to be a great guy. Molly is smitten, and he even defends black women when one of her bougie friends has the nerve to call us “difficult”. Hell, I was in love. Molly learns that he’d never gone to college, which doesn’t seem to bother her until she finds out she has gotten into The League. The League (which is a real thing) is an exclusive dating app, where applicants are vetted for their appearance, title, and pedigree. Once she gets into The League, she kicks Jared to the curb to pursue some fancy man. Goodbye Molly. Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I’m guessing this won’t end well.

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At work, Molly meets the new law intern, Rasheeda (played by Gail Bean). After observing Rasheeda joking with one of the lawyers, Molly pulls Rasheeda to the side, concerned with her workplace behavior. Rasheeda doesn’t code switch, and Molly feels the need to tell her to “switch it up”, otherwise what will her white coworkers think? Rasheeda sets her straight, and Molly may have gained an enemy. Thank god.

On a storytelling perspective, “Racist as F***” is extremely strong and engaging. I truly appreciate how real the Issa/Lawrence story was and the gradual slow build of tension between the two of them. What I found especially gripping was learning about Lawrence. Ya’ll know I wrote him off the minute that I met him, but the writers really gave him a great backstory. Seeing the frustration of him going on interview after interview and getting nothing was one thing, but seeing him take the crappy hourly really hit home. It wasn’t just about making money; it was a sacrifice he made for Issa, so with that in mind their fight was even more heart- achingly painful to watch.

Even more so, I loved the touch of Issa realizing her own fault in the relationship. Watching the flashbacks of them on the couch together and seeing Issa slowly pulling away through the years was such a strong touch. I think the writers got the realness of a relationship down – how time and increased responsibilities can really make two people who absolutely love each other, into worst enemies. Also, black love for the win. Had to get that in.

IMG_3668 “Racist as F*** covered a few different heavy topics and I was completely here for it. When Issa and Molly attend an Alpha party with some of Molly’s bougie friends, we get a scene about dating as black women. During the conversation, one of Molly’s friends, and an obvious self-hating brotha, called us difficult, reasoning why there are so many single black women. While the topic matter was flawless, I had to give props to Jared, for defending black women. I’ve seen a few shows tackle this “debate”, but what I really appreciated was the presence of a black man being on the pro-black women side. It was awesome.

What I found most gripping, however, was Molly’s discussion with Rasheeda on her conduct at work. The name of the game was respectability politics, with Molly questioning how Rasheeda would ever succeed if she continued to act/talk the way she does. I was so thrilled, when Rasheeda quickly corrected Molly on how successful she’s been thus far without having to worry about code-switching and calling Molly out on that nonsense. It was a moment in which the writers of Insecure were looking right at us, letting us know that looking down on someone for refusing to conform with mainstream “professional conduct” is bs.

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One of my old college professors once said that you have to wait for a new show’s third episode to decide if it’s worth continuing to watch. That often it takes a new show up until the third episode to find it’s tone and voice. Maybe if I’d gone to class more I would’ve learned more truths like this because that rang completely accurate for Insecure. It was a phenomenal episode with really strong storytelling. Now that I’ve seen just how good of a show Insecure is, and how insanely smart this episode was, I have little doubt that I will be blown away next week.

A+ Grade

Season 1, Episode 3 (S01E03)
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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