Issa Rae’s ‘Insecure’ Is a Story of Modern-Day Black Womanhood

A recap of the first episode of Season 2 of Issa Rae's 'Insecure' series on HBO

Representation matters. That being said, it is rather marvelous to see the modern mainstream explosion of success for Black people in cinema, primetime television, and more forms of media. In the past year, it is has been rather hard to ignore with brilliantly made content like ATLANTA, Queen Sugar, The Get Down, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Get Out, The New Edition Story, Fences (to name a few), and now in its second season, Issa Rae’s Insecure series on HBO, Sundays at 10:30pm EST/9:30 CT. For those of you hearing the buzz and wanting to know the deal-io behind the timeline’s talks of the show as well as a candid discussion of the episodes’ content, The Demo Tape has got you covered (spoilers contained).

What is Insecure about you may ask? It is a series created by the lauded, innovative, wondrously melanated, and gorgeous lovingly awkward Black creative Issa Rae, creator of the popular The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl series on Youtube as well as a plethora of other notable short films. Her content serves as a dually gut-busting/ intellectually satisfying series about the many dimensions of modern day blackness. Insecure is no different from the great formula. Insecure is an original series created by Issa Rae focusing on the main character, played by herself, as she goes through long-term relationship woes, navigating through black womanhood with her friends in different areas of their lives, and trying to have her career take off the ground with micro-aggressions everywhere. The show is smart, sexy, relatable, hilarious, dramatic, full of discussion for the demographics represented in the show, and it has a mega-impressive soundtrack to boost. Wanna catch up? I won’t summarize so we can dive right in to the show’s recent developments and issues presented, but you can catch the first season on HBO.com. If you need to sign up for a subscription, you can try and use the free trial option to catch up.  

“Hella Great,” the first episode of the long-awaited Season 2, left the audience with a lot of points for commentary. Break-ups with a longtime partner can be difficult to move on from. This is especially true when the details behind the break-up are rooted in intricate issues of financial stability, ambition of partners or lack thereof, infidelity, faith, trust and personal stress from all the avenues of one’s individual life that find themselves permeating bit by bit into the relationship. It is sad to see relationships end like Issa and Lawrence’s, but that’s sometimes the way the cookie crumbles; or, the walls of a certain bank teller, in this case as well. Thankfully, Issa had the oh-so-helpful online dating platforms to assist her and her homegirls to give her solace (shout out to Black woman sisterhood). It’s typical to sink into the lowest parts of yourself after a breakup, but it’s wonderful to have friends who can be there with you for rights, wrongs, and tragedies. Loneliness, regret, and longings for redemption are all potent little gremlins on their own, so it is no wonder why Issa tried her luck online (like many individuals in real life) who don’t quite know how to start over again and/or want another shot.

The perspective then switches to one of the other most questioned individuals on the show. From the backshot heard around the world to situationship side thrusts and having to crash on an air mattress at your homie’s crib later…all for the culture. #TeamLawrence FTW. But is he really winning here? You can tell in more ways than one that him and his new “lil’ yeah” are enjoying themselves in whatever type of ambiguous thing they have going on, but one can also clearly see Lawrence’s mind is still on his recent past relationships and pondering whether he can truly build with Tasha. His aloofness during dinner says everything. Some yearn for intellectual/emotional satisfaction within relationships, some are content with mostly satisfying desires of sexual intercourse, some favor one in much more abundance than the other, and others require a balance. We can tell from the scenes that this will be an issue later.

It’s beautiful to see the unwavering support of both factions’ friends, especially Molly. Molly too goes through a side story in the episode that illuminates the longstanding issue of discrimination and the glass ceiling for women in general (and especially women of color) in even the upper echelons of the professional working world. Also, notably, Molly’s jokes to Issa about the therapists Molly has begun seeing subliminally point to the conservative views the Black community has on mental health. As Issa pointed out with her character, it’s perfectly fine to open yourself up to begin detoxing from the years of pain and deep rooted issues that you have been bottling up for years. But, as we all can see through Molly’s journey, the journey to stable and healthy mental health is a gradual process. Hopefully, Molly’s example can provide inspiration for other Blacks on the myths and realities of mental health in this season.

Issa’s scheme to get her man back through a good ol’ fashioned party and bulls**t turned out to be a disastrous form of the latter. Scheming will only get one so far. Secondly, you cannot make someone want to forgive you and be on casual speaking terms with you again, despite how badly you want to reconcile things. Even though her scheme literally goes up in flames, I found it good that her friends at least supported her initiative. (Are we going to talk about how Issa’s Black Fraternity and Black Sorority friends look like the exact stereotypes of who they are supposed to be representing or is that a topic for another time?)

In the aftermath of Issa’s plans going up in flames, Lawrence actually showed up to her place to pick up his jury duty letter and other belongings. What happened next was a common instance of what happens when you invite an ex (that you were frequently sexually active with) over to your house to pick up the remainder of their belongings. In the words of The Notorious B.I.G, “Some say the ex-.” But Lawrence, why you bother Issa when you know you got a woman? (Word to SZA.) While we can debate what lasted longer, Lawrence or the trash can on fire, the last interaction before the episode ended was a relatable metaphor of the complications of post-break-ups, especially when the feelings are still there somewhat. Messy, messy, messy…

The soundtrack was stellar as always, featuring the extra groovy “Scared Money” by NxWorries, the smash-hit “Crew” by GoldLink with the smooth insertion of Brent Faiyaz’s iconic hook, SZA’s extra-relevant “Love Galore,” and more bops. With the rather impressive original brands from other creatives sported throughout the episode by Issa Rae for exposure, the return of the very hysterical mirror scenes with Issa, and more developments, we can tell Issa Rae has a fiery remainder of a season waiting for the masses. Issa, you’re doing amazing, sweetie.

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