Dear Issa Rae: Thank You For Season 1 Of Insecure

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Dear Issa Rae,

The season finale of your brainchild, Insecure, has me all kinds of messed up. (You can read the recap here.) It was the kind of television episode that hits you in the gut — and makes you a lifetime devotee to a series. And as much as I yelled and cried at the screen, it was exactly the kind of cliffhanger I needed for a show that I've come to love so much, I've already seen it all the way through twice (and am currently on my third go-round).

As a fan of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, I expected the series to be cute. Most likely, really funny. And after the incessant media buzz the show got leading up to its premiere, I also figured it would probably push some boundaries and bust a few stereotypes.

What I didn't expect was to feel grateful. Thankful that with every single scene, every single episode, I saw not just my life, but the lives of my friends — both men and women — projected on the small screen in a way that didn't involve fist fights or screaming matches over a man.

Yes, I related because your main character, Issa, is a girl like me who wears scarves to bed, talks to herself in the bathroom, and is often awkward in social situations. But beyond my own self-indulgent reasons for loving Issa, I'm even more appreciative of the four narratives you tackled in this first season, the four elements of Black life that I hadn't seen portrayed this way on television since Girlfriends went off the air in 2008. (#RIP).
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
First, there was the fact that this was a comedy that accurately portrayed Black love without much fanfare. In October, you told me, "I just want it to feel like it’s normalized regular Blackness." Mission accomplished: The fact that Issa and Lawrence are a Black couple didn't feel like a big deal; they are simply two people in a long-term relationship trying to figure shit out. Sometimes Black people can just be, and it doesn't have to be this huge statement on race. But still, the fact that they're Black does matter. I personally appreciated seeing the kind of guy I'd probably date (and have dated) on a show that I love, instead of watching an episode of Sex and the City and imagining what I'd do in Carrie Bradshaw's shoes if her man was brown.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The second element many of us viewers were grateful for was the relationship between Molly and Issa. Again, since Girlfriends went off the air in 2008, I haven't seen a realistic Black friendship like this on TV. (Sorry not sorry that I keep referring to Girlfriends, because it just goes to show how few shows like this we've had over the years — and no, the frememies on Love and Hip Hop don't count). At one point during almost every episode, my best friend and I would text each other about how something Issa or Molly did reminded us of each other.

We even loved their arguments. In female relationships, especially, there can be unspoken hurt, resentment, jealousy, competitiveness, and disappointment, all feelings that are rarely explored on television. So watching as the showrunners peeled back the layers of Molly and Issa's friendship was often painful, but honest. And the fact that it was two Black women with the kind of unbreakable friendship that survives even the darkest, hardest moments — with a little help from wine and Flaming Hot Cheetos — was particularly meaningful.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Third, I was grateful in this season to see the microaggressions brown folks often encounter at work depicted with both seriousness and levity. Sure, it was funny that Molly's new Black co-worker Rasheeda is a little extra, but not so funny when Molly's boss, a partner at her law firm, asks her to talk to Rasheeda about her "behavior," like Molly is some sort of Black translator, the only person capable of speaking to the only other Black employee. It's the kind of interaction most minorities have encountered at work, but it can be hard to explain those situations to people who aren't, well, other. Rae and her writing team did it subtly throughout the season in a way that shows the world that hey, this is what we deal with, and it isn't always something you can laugh away.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Lastly, I was grateful for Issa's pure, undeniable twentysomething selfishness. Early in the season she has the blind confidence many of us are cursed with during this age bracket, the assurance that the future is a long ways away and there's no such thing as consequences. So when everything comes around to bite her in the ass in the finale, we get a raw, hard-to-watch look at what it means to have your most selfish, immature self come smack dab face-to-face with reality. It was a hit so hard that we now have to wait until next season to see how (and if) Issa will grow up.

Sometimes Black people can just be, and it doesn't have to be this huge statement on race.

The icing on the cake that is this season is the attention to detail. Apartments are decorated with Black Greek paraphernalia, Issa dons a hot sauce-and-Red-Lobster Beyoncé T-shirt to sleep, and Lawrence attempts to come out of his depression with a trip to the strip club with his boys. Oh, and that Solange Knowles-helmed soundtrack? It's like its very own character in the show, hip-hop and R&B and soul that gently and exquisitely sets the mood throughout each 30-minute episode. (I'll never forget the haunting way St. Beauty's "Borders" closed the episode after Issa's transgression.)

So thank you, Issa. Thank you for giving the world a brilliant, well-written, cackle-until-you-almost pee-funny TV show. But more precisely, thank you for creating something for Black people who need a break from the harsh realities of the world around them but are still thirsty to see themselves portrayed in entertainment. You gave us the gift of something that's real, but also not too heavy to be enjoyed over wine with your girlfriends. I'm already counting down the days until Season 2.

With Love,
Your Fellow Awkward Black Girl

PS: I know you've got episode-by-episode playlists on Spotify, but can you please, please, please release an official soundtrack available everywhere for the show? Pretty please? The people need it, Issa!

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