Issa Rae’s Insecure is the comedy black women have been looking for. For a while, white female Millennials had Girls; A show created by Lena Dunham to talk about their experiences. HBO’s Girls was declared the feminist go to watch by reviewers but there was an alarming point people missed; Girls was a white girl’s’ fantasy. Dunham’s characters were in NYC but had no friends of color. It’s discouraging that female comedy is usually reserved for white women. For many Black women, they are only given dramas or reality shows. Black sitcoms only have Black women as the token best friend or doting love interest. Black women don’t ever really get to be funny. Serious, sure. Sexy, bet. Insecure is a breath of fresh air; of a similar fashion, Insecure is the successor of Girlfriends and Living Single. I’m excited for the premiere of Insecure season 2 this July 23rd, I am a big fan of Issa Rae’s comedy. I watched the first season faithfully, I promise it won’t disappoint: Issa is at the reigns of this series delivering a high quality series with relatable characters and relevant content.
Issa Rae as a content creator is important to note. Yes, Issa Rae has gained prominence as the creator with the success of Insecure, receiving accolades. That should be applauded but Issa has been on this journey for a minute. In 2011, she starred in and produced her own show, The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl. She created Awkward Black Girl because there were limiting stereotypes of what Black people could be. Awkward Black Girl stars Issa playing J, a black woman in her mid-twenties who is, well frankly, awkward. She provides comedic relief through narration and her overactive imagination. The show is praised for its realism, presenting a variety of black characters on screen. Issa self-produced but eventually started a Kickstarter to finish the first season. Pharrell then linked up with Issa to have the second season produced on his IAMOTHER channel. With the success of Awkward Black Girl, Issa created a space so that creators of color could thrive. She has developed an online platform that features short films and other web series highlighting the experiences of people of color.
The show, Insecure, is the grand child of the Awkward Black Girl web series. However it is its own entity entirely. Issa Rae is the co-creator alongside comedian Larry Wilmore. The first season was a total of eight episodes, approximately 30 minutes long. The episodes follow a consistent storyline; we follow the lives of two black women in their twenties trying to figure it out. These black characters are Issa, portrayed by Issa Rae and her friend, Molly Carter, portrayed by actress Yvonne Orji. The recurring characters are Lawrence Walker (portrayed by Jay Ellis) and Frieda (portrayed by Lisa Joyce). Lawrence is Issa’s boyfriend and Frieda is Issa’s white co-worker. The show has guest writers and directors including acclaimed music video director Melina Matsoukas, filmmaker Cecile Emeke and TV producer Debbie Allen. Viewers will be delighted to see that Black women get to shine here. Most onscreen time is devoted to Black women and their experiences, whether it be navigating white spaces and choices about romantic partners. Black issues aren’t dismissed: facing micro aggressions, gentrification, and leaping into strong black woman narratives. Heavy topics are also touched on on a comedic basis, never lingering to dampen the show. The writing cleverly makes you laugh with it’s charm and allows viewers to contemplate the deeper implications that race and gender has within society.
While I do recommend Insecure, potential viewers should take note of the sex scenes that do not hold back by any means. Also, there is an episode that one of the characters laments on finding her partner has had a same gender loving experience. The scene tosses around biphobic comments that may be unsettling for some. In other instances, there are some moments where misogyny is condoned through a series of conversations between the male characters. There’s a lack of LGBT representation and people from a different class, that is mentioned in passing. For the most part, people featured on screen are college graduates ; but it’d be nice to see blue collar people of color in the upcoming seasons. Viewers will quickly notice how great the music is in this series, thanks to Solange Knowles who was the music consultant. We have a landscape of music that is fitting of the series. With big names like The Internet, KING, and Thundercat. Lesser known artists like Kari Faux, Dreezy, provided tracks added to the ambiance. It’s a hearty mix of neo soul, indie hip hop, and downtempo R&B. Sometimes the delivery is lacking but the overall production makes up for it.
The show is well shot, offering close up of the characters. Also, it’s nice to see darker skinned characters be handled with care in terms of lighting. It should be noted content wise, the show features several romantic relationships but it never overshadows the female friendship that tethers it all together. The characters are not flat by any means, we have a sense of the primary characters without downplaying the secondary characters. The showrunner steered away from harmful stereotypes about Black people. The audience is definitely for adults, as we see the cast members deal with post grad life. It doesn’t mean that college age viewers or younger won’t enjoy it, they just may not understand all the content.
With the aforementioned I watched the first season faithfully, I promise it won’t disappoint. Viewers should expect this to be a show for black millennials who haven’t quite figured out their lives yet. This isn’t the definitive show of the generation, but if you’re looking for a show that features comedic female leads, Insecure is for you. The show is relevant but isn’t oversaturated with cliches. If you do find yourself interested in more shows like this be sure to check out Issa Rae’s Production company. I recommend this show for people who like Chewing Gum, Dear White People, and Brown Girls. The second season premiered on Sunday, July 23rd via HBO. I tuned in, did you? It’s been a long time coming but Insecure is the show for quirky black women approaching their 30’s.
Author: Brittney Maddox
Editor: Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.
From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.