Insecure Is Actually Basic AF & I'm Okay With It

Photo: Anne Marie Fox/HBO
Even though I didn’t catch up until mid-season, I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of HBO’s Insecure. It kept me engaged, the soundtrack was LIT, the outfits were bomb, and (creator and star) Issa Rae’s beautiful skin is obviously her good karma awarded from a previous life. As a Black girl in my 20s, there are so many elements of Insecure that I’m really into. But when faced with the task of sharing my thoughts about the show, I kept blanking. I was mum on Twitter about it for weeks and last night’s finale helped me realize why. Insecure isn’t so much a show about an awkward Black girl like o.g. fans of Rae might have expected. It’s a show about a basic Black girl, her basic boyfriend, and her basic varietal friends. It's basicnormative.

At some point during each episode of this season I waited for a moment that never came. I expected a meaningful conversation that pushed the boundaries on popularized ideas about relationships, sex, and/or friendship among young Black folks. I thought I was pretty close in episode 6, when Molly finds out that the guy she’s been sleeping with, Jared, had a single sexual encounter with another man in his past. Molly tells her friends about it and Issa has some great things to say about Black men being held to rigid standards of masculinity and not being able to fully explore their sexuality. I thought Issa’s speech would be the catalyst for Molly to pursue a serious relationship with Jared. But nope, Molly dumps him anyway. I was disappointed again.

In last night's finale, Issa goes on a weekend trip to Malibu with her homegirls for Kelly’s birthday. Kelly is the designated fat friend. And true to basic, Insecure typecast her as loud, obnoxious, forever alone, only slightly bitter about it, but always down to have a good time because she’s generally too oblivious or delusional to recognize that her life is in shambles. Along the same vein, Molly is confronted about her sex life, as if having one is the antithesis to her desire to be in a committed relationship. Instead of opening up a dialogue about why Molly feels so much pressure to be in a serious relationship, her friends think she has some sort of sex problem.

Meanwhile, Lawrence, still upset that Issa cheated on him, goes to a strip club with his friends to feel better. No issues there. He asks one stripper for a private dance and feels confident when she compliments him and is willing to do more than dance. Though, his ego is deflated when she begins listing her rates. In his disgust, Lawrence suddenly appreciates Issa and calls to say that he misses her. It was a moment that left me feeling deflated, too. Strippers and other Black women who engage in transactional sex are always used to measure the morality and superiority of Black women who prioritize heteronormative love over everything else.

Issa thinks that she and Lawrence are going to work through their relationship issues, and is grateful when Molly offers to drive her to the apartment she and Lawrence shared. But she leaves her girls weekend in vain when she discovers that Lawrence has actually moved out. I guess he only missed Issa until his stripper disgust wore off. We last see him having sex with Tasha, his bank teller that has a crush on him. So. Basic.

But I want to make it clear that while Insecure is definitely basic AF, it’s still comforting in its familiarity. In a key scene of the season, when Daniel said, "Every black girl that went to college likes Drake," I completely understood the humor (though, honestly, I don't agree). And the parts where I rolled my eyes, or predicted the lines before they came out of a character's mouth, were eerily similar to conversations with some of my dearest basic friends. Myself and many of these friends relate to the mishaps portrayed in Insecure. While we may have handled them differently, there is no denying that they exist. For all its basic glory, Insecure still kept it real. I guess there are certainly worse things a show, or a person, can be. I’m still looking forward to season 2.
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