Issa & Lawrence Do Not Need To Get Back Together On Insecure

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Rejoice, Insecure fans, for HBO’s pitch-perfect romantic comedy is finally back for season 2. When we last saw Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and her Los Angeles friend group, the show’s lead character had been left by her longtime boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis). While the rules of rom-coms suggest fans should immediately start rooting for a reconciliation, I, and the rest of the Internet, could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Issa and Lawrence were terrible together. Lawrence was too obsessed with being a Sad Boy to celebrate his own girlfriend’s birthday. Issa was too over Lawrence’s Sad Boy antics to avoid having sex with her ex-hookup Daniel (Y'lan Noel). With the couple’s relationship officially done at the end of season 1, it seemed like everyone could move on from their romantic nonsense, despite the fact it might be a bit sad for both people. Unfortunately, season 2 premiere "Hella Great," proves this duo isn’t over — and that’s probably for the worse.
At the end of season 1, it was clear Issa had fallen into the "You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone" trap once Lawrence learns she was unfaithful. During a girl’s trip to Malibu, Issa, her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), and their friends Tiffany (Amanda Seales) and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) party with some younger men at a bar. Kelli, who didn’t hook up with anyone, complains the next morning, "I bought that little boy hella drinks last night. Men these days are hella trifling. Just be thankful you have Lawrence."
The latter half of that statement becomes Issa’s mantra for the trip as she prays Lawrence will decide to forgive her. But, her hope isn’t because she truly loves Lawrence. It’s because, as Kelli reminds our heroine, men out here are terrible, and at least Lawrence is handsome, faithful, and all Issa’s. But, did Issa really need to be "thankful" for her boyfriend? No. This is a guy who wasted years upon years "trying" to get his app off the ground. This is a guy who needed to be convinced to take an amazing job with benefits and a parking spot because bills. Yes, Lawrence is definitely on a post-Best Buy upswing by the end of season 1, but it comes too little, too late, as Issa’s passion for her man had already died long ago.
Despite the facts of how Issa truly felt about her boyfriend, season 2 opens with Issa pining for the days when she was in a relationship. As Kelli practically prophesied in Malibu, a newly single Issa’s countless app-curated dates are all trifling. She smiles through a montage, politely listening to a random coterie of men ask her about where she’s from, why she’s single, and how she likes working with kids. The alarmingly repetitive conversations are so bad, Issa daydreams about rapping to her suitors, "I don’t wanna be here, but my ex won’t take me back, so my broken ass is here small talkin’ over apps." Still, we don’t actually understand why Issa wants to get back with Lawrence. Their relationship was comfortable and familiar, but, so is a cushy pair of slippers. That doesn’t mean you can’t eventually toss those shoes out when they get far too ratty to wear and order a new pair on Amazon. Hell, you can even go barefoot for a while. Issa only misses Lawrence because dating is hard, boring work.
Still, Issa spends the rest of "Hella Great" wishing for Lawrence and trying to figure out a way to get him to their apartment, which he still hasn’t officially moved out of. All of the scheming feels unnecessary. Molly reminds her best friend, “Real talk though, guys always want you back when they know you’re doing good without them.” Here begins Issa’s scheme to seem hella great, as the episode is called. She imagines all the ways she could open the door when Lawrence will inevitably arrive at the apartment. She's pious, overtly sexy (“Here’s your jury booty”), and casual, with a corresponding outfit for each character. Issa even throws a wine-down party on the evening Lawrence is supposed to come over to pick up his jury duty letter. The bash veers wildly off the tracks, ending with a fireball enveloping Issa’s trash bin and leaving burn marks all over her wall. On top of that, Lawrence doesn’t even show up.
Speaking of season 2 Lawrence, the premiere plays out as his fuckboy origin story. The "good guy" persona we came to know has dimmed, and in its place is a guy who comes over to a woman’s house on a Friday, enjoys a full sex weekend, and then disappears just before Monday rolls around, never to be seen or heard from during the workweek. Plus, he is sleeping on an air mattress in his friend’s living room. All Lawrence needs to do now is to start texting random girls from Tinder, "U up?" at all hours of the early morning.
When Lawrence realizes he’s treating his new lady friend Tasha (Dominique Perry) terribly, he tries to remedy the situation by taking her out on the night he’s supposed to visit Issa’s apartment. The date clearly signals Lawrence might be ready for something more serious with his bank teller hookup, who’s very much into him. Every single time Tasha glances at Lawrence, her eyes scream, "So, when are you going to be my boyfriend?" Despite this game-changing dinner, Lawrence still ends the episode having sex with Issa.
While some may regard the premiere's closing sex scene as proof Issa and Lawrence simply can’t quit each other, it also proves things will always be awkward between these two. Lawrence surprises Issa by coming to the apartment about a day later than he said he would. Issa has no time to prepare for the encounter and is therefore her most natural self. So, the duo share a few tense looks and eventually fall back into each other’s arms, having sex on the couch that is a metaphor for their relationship. The encounter is fast and leaves both parties looking bewildered. Issa nervously runs her hands through her hair afterwards, and Lawrence dashes out, giving his "ex"-girlfriend a kiss on the cheek as a parting gift. There’s no emotional pillow talk or declarations of undying love. While the latter is probably an unrealistic expectation, the post-breakup sex is simply uncomfortable, and hints things may always be simply uncomfortable for everyone involved. The hookup squarely doesn’t scream "First steps to reconciliation."
During a "Hella Great" heart-to-heart with Molly, Issa admits, "Bitch, of course I want my man back. I was lying." But, after this episode, Issa should probably change her mind on that one. Especially since, as the season 2 preview promises, Issa’s side dude Daniel is about to return. After a season of The Issa And Lawrence Show, it might be time for Issa to explore the other half of Insecure's love triangle.
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