Insecure is Back!
I have spent the last twelve years looking for the anti-Shonda Rhimes, someone who embodies the strong African-American female showrunner but is, you know, entertaining. Two major candidates have surfaced in the past few years. The one who by far gives me the most joy is Issa Rae, the extraordinary talent behind HBO’s remarkable comedy series Insecure. It has therefore been excruciating, not just for me, hut for all her fans out there, that while Rae has been breaking big on the silver screen, we’ve had to wait nearly eighteen months for Season 4 of Insecure. It has well been worth the wait.
As we left her in the last season, Issa is in the middle of trying to organize a block party in her neighborhood to bring awareness to her neighborhood and the black community in L.A. To do so, she has been helped immensely by her knew powerful friend Condola. However, she has just learned from a mutual friend that Condola is hooking up with Lawrence (Jay Ellis). Yes, her Lawrence. Needless, this makes the season premiere’s sponsoring session extremely awkward as Issa can’t seem to be within six feet of the woman’s whose help she needs.
There is also a sense that Issa and Molly (Yvonne Orji) who have been best friends since the premiere, may be facing a major separation. Part of it has to do with Issa’s relationship with Condola, which stirs envy in Molly, and some of it has to do with Molly’s own problems with her relationship with Andrew, she started hooking up with late last season. But there are grimmer portents ahead. In a rare flashforward for this show, we saw Issa at home talking with somebody, saying “I’m done with Molly.” Based on the timing, it probably has something to do with the upcoming block party.
For those who might worry about Insecure getting dark, it’s still really funny. Part of it has to do with, surprisingly, the sex in the show. This series has always had a surprising amount of toe-tingling eroticism for a comedy, but what separates it from Rhimes’ territory is that is it a) always plot-related, and b) often hysterical funny. Witness the scene in the season premier where Issa is hooking up with an overweight booty call, and they can’t seem to find the right position. Afterwards, when Issa is making comments on how good missionary is, her hookup said: “Momma always said church is the solution is everything.” And then there were the sexual fantasies Issa imagined between Lawrence and Condola, as they hooked up and discussed every small reason why Issa was inferior. (There was a line about clothing that needs to be heard to be fully appreciated.)
And Rae seems very aware of the pop culture era she lives in, as there always seems to be some black series in the background that speech to the era. This year, it appears to be a Lifetime type series involving the disappearance of a black woman and trying to unearth what happened to her. These kinds of snippets are the kind of thing I only thought Robert & Michelle King could do as well, but for all I know Rae is taking her cues from them.
Rae’s rise to public notoriety has been one of the great joys. And it appears, much like Donald Glover for Atlanta, she has not lost of the magic that makes her work sing. I am fully aware that I completely the opposite of Insecure’s ideal demographic, but just as in the case of Atlanta, the show’s appeal is nearly as universal. If you’re looking for something to tide you over while Glover turns out Season 3 of Atlanta (which wasn’t going to come out till next year before the outbreak0 this is more than a satisfying substitute. In it’s own way, it’s just as much a part of the Zeitgeist. And if it isn’t, it really should be.
My score: 4.5 stars.