On October 9th, 2016, Issa Rae, star of the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, moves to television with her new HBO comedy, Insecure. The show is about a young black woman trying to find love and discover who she is in Los Angeles. While there is certainly no shortage of romantic television shows and movies about young people trying to find themselves, Issa Rae’s Insecure puts a unique twist on a familiar plot as she explores cultural stereotypes and the kinds of “awkward moments” that only an insecure, young, black woman can truly relate to.
Issa Rae’s character, who also happens to be named Issa, works for an educational nonprofit called “We Got Ya’ll.” The program is geared towards helping black children in less fortunate neighborhoods, but it is comprised of mainly white workers. As Issa is the only black woman on the staff board, she says that the other workers think she is “the token with all the answers.” The sheer awkwardness of her position is presented in her hilarious interactions with the other workers. At one point, Issa walks into the room and the other workers are so relieved that she can answer the question they have been discussing– what is the meaning of the term “on fleek.” However, the funniest, and by far, the most uncomfortable, person in the office has to be Issa’s boss, a white woman who wears African tribal clothing and has a picture of herself with Barack Obama on her desk.
The first episode opens with a scene in which Issa is giving a presentation about the nonprofit to a classroom of primarily black middle school students. When she finishes the presentation and opens the floor for questions, the students are more interested in her personal life than her work. The first girl asks her, “Why you talk like a white girl?” Watching Issa take on a bunch of middle schoolers is simultaneously thought provoking and laugh out loud funny because of her blatant discomfort with addressing these middle schoolers about cultural stereotypes.
The real soul of the show lies in Issa’s relationship with her best friend, Molly. Molly is a successful black woman who works as a lawyer. While Issa is struggling to get out of the rut that her five-year relationship has become, Molly is dealing with the fear that she may never get married. Like any best girlfriends, Molly and Issa talk about love, life, and relationships while also having a great time together whether it be on a dinner date, partying at the club, or just hanging out and eating Cheetos in Molly’s apartment. Both women are undeniably real with each other which can make some situations really serious and others outright comical. Overall, both women are intelligent, funny, and strong, making it hard not to love them.
Insecure is a comic yet honest take on Issa Rae’s navigation of racial stereotypes while she tries to create herself, discover her purpose, and find love. This is best summed up when she decides to take a risk and end her long term relationship, declaring that it is the last year of her twenties. She powerfully announces, “I don’t have time for the bullshit.” Her attitude empowers both her character and the viewers. Undoubtedly, Rae’s show will only get funnier and more candid as she starts on her quest for identity and deals with new uncomfortable situations.