With one episode in the can, I think it might be safe to say that Issa Rae’s long awaited HBO debut is an extension of her YouTube hit, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, only this time she’s got HBO money behind it. After making it to the final credits, I couldn’t help but ask, damn, what have Black men done to this sister to jade her perspective this much?
Before I attempt to psychoanalyze the Queen as an emotionally fragile young woman who’s had one poor experience after another with Black dudes, I will say that I’m committed to seeing the show through, and the beauty of long format narratives in the golden era of TV, is that we get to watch stories develop over longer periods of time. With that said, its very possible that things shape up, and there’s at least one guy who happens to be Black man that will reflect the nuances of someone who cares about something other than the stereotypical sex, TV, and food.
However, Insecure doesn’t only lay heavy into Black men, in the first episode, we are introduced to a class of ghetto Black middle school girls who bag on Issa’s character for talking white, wearing her hair natural, and being single, and strangely, they were all overweight little girls also. I thought that was an interesting casting choice.
From there, we learn Issa is in a relationship with an unambitious brother who’s still working out the kinks to his big business plan, as she flirts with the idea of dating the guy she always wanted after he reaches out to her on social media.
Similar to ABG. Issa’s character is neurotic, almost like a Hip Hop female Woody Allen, which is dope. Her sequences of her talking to herself in the mirror make up for a lot of lost yardage in the areas of her examinations of modern relationships between Black men and women.
She does an incredible job exploring the dynamic between two best friends as they celebrate Issa’s birthday in a chill little Ethiopian spot in West LA, and turn up at Maverick’s Flat off Crenshaw where Issa’s friend meets a potentially cool dude after being dissed by an Arabic man earlier on in the episode. At the club, Issa connects with her ex-dude and he encourages her to perform for open mic, where she blasts her best friend for having a broken pussy, causing the guy she’s feeling to ditch her.
Things heat up with a dramatic argument in the car between Issa and her friend and Issa decides to take refuge in the arms of her ex, who she later learns just wanted to fuck, which sends Issa running back to her best friend donning a bag of hot Cheetos and some kind of dipping sauce, I don’t know, it looked disgusting as hell nonetheless.
The episode ends with her at odds with her current boyfriend for not being ambitious, in a world where gang banging is oversimplified, rap lacks substance (which it does), white folks are invaders of Black culture, and the only smart person so far in the world, is the Black girl, who nobody seems to understand.
I will say, its refreshing to see Black faces, to see that Kendrick, Drake, Raphael Saadiq, and a bunch of underground artists, are getting HBO checks, and to see that she’s photographing LA with a fresh lens.
Maybe the show is designed for soley for female audiences and because I’m looking for myself in the narrative, when I see masculine characters, I’m met with more little kids, and by little kids, I don’t mean young Black men, who lack maturity, but men who lack the inherent presence of anything interesting about them, something that makes them human and relatable. To me, that’s what makes the characters likable, when they are nuanced, and motivated by principle, even when they aren’t morally good people, and most importantly, if the characters aren’t interesting, it means the writer’s don’t think they are interesting either.
Lastly, where’s the world view? We get it, you’re college educated, kind of geeky, not the typical “Black” person, but that’s what’s supposed to make you interesting, not one dimensional and jaded. I’m seeing this a lot with the so called “New Black” content makers, they substitute a real world view for corny laughs and reinforced stereotypes. Like I said, I’m committed to the project, I wanna see it through and see how it develops, because everything I’m saying could be 100% wrong come episode 5 and the show could develop into something absolutely amazing. But right now, Larry Wilmore is killing it by having his hands in a lot of TV with Black leads, however, its feeling like the only thing different about Insecure is that you have to have cable to watch it now.