Struggle is often at the heart of Insecure, especially for Issa (Issa Rae), who has been in different states of financial, professional, and romantic crisis since we met her in the first season of the show. From trying to speak her mind at work, to navigating boundaries with sexual partners, Issa has basically been driving the struggle bus. The second episode of season three refused to give viewers a reprieve from the realities of Issa’s situation, since it focused mostly on Issa and Daniel (Y’lan Noel). However, “Familiar-Like” was also a beautiful reminder of why we love Issa, why fine ass men like Daniel are drawn to her, and why so many of us feel like she is just as much of a friend to us as she is to Molly (Yvonne Orji). Here’s what happened...
Daniel is missing. At least, Issa hasn’t seen him in a few days. This isn’t a good sign given that Issa is still sleeping on his couch and getting rejected from other apartments she’s applied to live in. So she does what any rational person would do when someone close to them doesn’t show up at home for a couple of days — she shoots him a text. He responds that he's “good.” Translation: I am definitely avoiding you. I knew it was only a matter of time before this cohabitation situation got awkward.
However, nothing is more awkward than a white person who is blind to how their racial privilege is clouding their judgement. This is exactly what’s happening with Joanne (Catherine Curtain), the founder and director at We Got Y’all. She reluctantly admits that their logo — which boasts a white hand holding three Black children in its palm — needs a redesign, but not without first defending the image and her own white saviour complex. As the rest of the staff, including newly promoted Frieda (Lisa Joyce), chime in with their own critiques of the organisations approach to communities of colour, all eyes fall on Issa to validate claims that racial insensitivity is a problem amongst their workplace. In her daydream, Issa goes off on everyone in the room. In real time, she timidly agrees with everything that everyone else has said, which is my pet peeve about Issa: she never uses her voice and she backs down from opposition way too fast. It’s time for sis to get some kind of backbone.
Issa does have the good sense to go talk to an expert about her finances, though. Luckily her friend Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) is the plug. In case you forgot, the same friend that was notoriously fingered underneath a table is also an accountant. (Get you a girl that can do both.) Anyway, Kelli holds no punches and tells Issa like it is: her credit sucks and she doesn’t have enough savings to move out on her own. And just like everyone else watching the show, Kelli is shocked to learn that Issa has been living with fine. ass. Daniel. for all. this. time. without sleeping with him — or cooking or cleaning, for that matter. Her advice to Issa is, “don’t look a gift horse in the dick.” In other words, it’s in Issa’s best interest to live with Daniel for as long as possible.
But where the hell is Daniel?! He’s at Vanessa’s (Candice Ramirez) place. Vanessa is the woman he’s been having loud sex with in his room. Vanessa says things like “I love light-skinned love.” Vanessa uses “thuggish” as an insult. I don’t like Vanessa. From the looks of things Daniel doesn't like her very much, either. She’s basic in all of the wrong ways. But that’s doesn’t stop him from using Vanessa as a scapegoat when Issa wants to know if she can extend her stay at his place for a little longer. He tells Issa that Vanessa doesn’t like her around and that she can only stay for another week. Daniel’s position feels petty and spiteful — especially after the heated exchange between him and Issa on last week’s episode — but it’s his prerogative. You’re allowed to be petty when you pay the bills. [insert Kanye shrug]
Faced with the chance of homelessness, Issa decides to make herself useful. She cleans Daniel’s place from top to bottom. And when he comes home complaining about work, she actually listens to him. His friend Seven — the one who is committed to helping talentless acts make music — has been trying to introduce him to a local rapper named Spider. On this night, Spider can’t come to the music studio as promised by Seven, but Daniel has the opportunity to meet him at a club instead. Daniel hates this idea because “nothing good” ever comes from the club scene. But Issa correctly identifies Daniel’s ego as the real reason for his hesitance. She volunteers to join him at the club for moral support.
Daniel’s name isn’t on the list when they arrive. The line for entry is extremely long as club lines tend to be. But just as the two of them are ready to accept defeat, Issa recognises one of their old high school friends who gets them in, Khalil. Daniel’s fragile male ego starts to go haywire almost immediately and he’s suddenly a little less sexy than he was a moment ago. Daniel sulks some more inside the club, especially when he sees Issa flirting with a man sporting green braces. But brace face doesn't stop Issa from being an extremely effective wingwoman. She encourages Daniel friend to shoot his professional shot by approaching Spider about collaborating on music. Khalil, who has achieved some of the success that Daniel wants in the music industry, also co-signs. Spider still curves Daniel, a fight between two other men lead to shots being fired in the club, and everyone has to flee for their lives.
Safe at a restaurant, Daniel and Issa have a chance to debrief. Daniel feels so close to a big break and all of these setbacks are extremely frustrating. Issa can honestly relate. And perhaps because she sees some of her own struggle in Daniel, she gives him some pretty solid advice. Instead of competing with Khalil, the two of them should collaborate. And Daniel actually listens. Lawrence Hive is out there shook watching Issa be supportive and encouraging to another dude.
Meanwhile, I’m shook that the pair still won’t have sex. Daniel admits that he likes having Issa around and extends her welcome in his home. Vanessa who? At the end of episode, Daniel massages Issa’s shoulders and even lets her sleep in his bed. They listen to music together and the sexual tension between them is so thick that you could cut through it with a knife. I can’t take this.
What I would have done if I was Issa: I was raised right, so my first time cleaning the house where I live rent-free would not have been weeks after I planted my ass on the couch. Do better. But most importantly, I would definitely be sleeping with Daniel.
What I would have done if I was Kelli: It was really nice of Kelli to offer her professional services to Issa. However, I don’t blame her for setting boundaries with Issa by refusing to be her co-signers. Sorry, not sorry. Issa seems like she’s terrible with money.