Insecure Season 3 Premiere Recap: "Better-Like"

Photo: Merie W. Wallace/Courtesy of HBO.
After two seasons I finally figured out what makes HBO’s Insecure so good. You know that flutter of anticipation you get feel when your best friend calls you to say, OMG! Guess who I just saw?! — because you don’t know if it’s her ex, your ex, or one of the Real Housewives? How about the way your stomach knots up just before you walk into a restaurant for a first date? You know that slowly rising anxiety in the middle of an argument via iMessage when you can see those three little dots moving, and you know the other person is typing? Well Emmy-nominated Issa Rae and the rest of the geniuses behind the scenes at Insecure have been able to bottle those feelings up and administer them to viewers in huge doses over the course of 30 minutes. It's simple, and sometimes basic, but it works.
The long-waited season 3 premiere opens with a sex scene that had my jaw on the floor. I thought our protagonist had done some serious moving on from Lawrence (Jay Ellis), and I was legit giddy. It was in that moment that I realized that I truly live for Issa (Rae) and Molly’s (Yvonne Orji) personal business like it’s being told to me over drinks from the mouths of closest homegirls. The tea feels real and hot. And so it feels only right that I give my completely unsolicited opinion on what I would do if I were these women, because that’s what I do to my real friends. But first, let’s dive into what happened.
So about the intense sex scene, that didn't involve jizz in the face. It’s Daniel (Y’lan Noel) — who is still fine and well-moisturized — and a woman who is not Issa. But it may as well be, since Issa is wide awake on the couch overhearing the entire encounter. It’s awkward, and she’s so annoyed that she decides to hop in her car and do a Lyft trip to make some cash instead. Our girl is seriously on hard times, and they get harder when her passenger throws up in the backseat.
Meanwhile, things seem to be going relatively better for everyone else. While Issa is stuck doing desk duty at We Got Y'all after last season's attempt to advocate for students of color backfired, Molly is getting ready to start a new job at another law firm. The latter has treated herself to a peaceful vacation complete with a sandy beach and a casual lover. And while Daniel is frustrated with the caliber of talent he’s being asked to produce for at his studio, at least we know that he can afford his rent and let Issa live there for free.
Issa’s surprising decision to show up on Daniel’s doorstep at the end of season 2 made for really good TV. But it also didn’t make a bunch of sense why she’d want to live with the former fling that helped ruin her last relationship, instead of with Molly. Living with her homegirl seems like such an obvious choice, and it’s one of the reasons I sometimes wonder if Issa’s best friend card deserves a review. Now we know why she made other arrangements.
Issa picks Molly up from the airport after her vacation before they head to breakfast. Several things happen. First, Molly gets serious revenge from the iconic “Broken Pussy” incident in season 1. Molly brings her friend sand in a jar as a souvenir because apparently Issa has been struggling with a "dry pussy." Please excuse me while I go cackle loudly. Second, the two women bicker about whether or not Issa broke a vase at Molly’s house when she lived with her several years prior. Apparently this is why Issa made those other arrangements. It's a sore topic. Lastly, they talk about the subject we definitely want to know about: men. What’s up with Molly and her married boo, Dro (Sarunas Jackson)? He’s just a fuck buddy, and she’s going to be setting up some serious boundaries with him. Is Issa sleeping with Daniel, or not? Nope. But matters of the heart (and the pussy) are never so clear cut.
After a conversation with his sister, Daniel begins to wonder the same thing I did: Of all the places Issa could have lived, why did she choose his spot? He mulls it over while drinking dark liquor, strumming his guitar, and playing around with some beats he created [insert heart-eye emoji]. He’s sexy and creative, and Issa takes it all in when she comes home. But when Daniel goes in for a kiss, she curves him. She thought they were keeping things friendly. Dammit Issa!
Over at Molly’s place we can put at least one mystery to bed. Dro hasn’t been pulling wool over Molly’s eyes about his open marriage. His wife definitely knows about their affair and seems to be cool with it. This should make me feel better — I’m all for ethical non-monogamy — but it doesn’t, because Molly isn’t happy. After taking a call from his wife, Dro suggests that they make pancakes for breakfast. But the reminder that Dro is married prompts Molly to enforce those boundaries she was talking about with Issa earlier. If they are going have casual sex, things need to be way more... casual. There will be no pancakes, no phone calls, no dates, no sleepovers. So instead of making food, Dro is forced to make his way out the door.
But Molly's childhood friend refuses to accept this as their new normal. In a move that perfectly illustrates the sneakiness of male entitlement, he kicks into “nice guy” mode. He calls her, despite her insistence that he shouldn’t. And she breaks her own rule by answering. He wants to take her out to celebrate her finalized contract at a new firm because “friends can celebrate.” Molly breaks another rule and reluctantly agrees to join him for dinner. But fate has other plans.
Issa has a rough day at both of her jobs. Hoping to take some initiative and make a better impression on her boss at We Got Y'all, she conducts her own research to find out why so many schools are discontinuing their relationship with the after-school program. The overwhelming response seems to be the lack of racial sensitivity. Issa takes this feedback to her boss, but Joanne (Catherine Curtain) isn’t open to the criticism, and Issa is in even more trouble. She needs to quit this damn job. Driving for Lyft isn’t faring much better, despite her best efforts. Here's why.
Both Issa and Molly have a little time to kill. Issa is waiting for a text from Daniel letting her know he’s done with yet another sexcapade with the girl from the other day. Molly has those dinner plans with her not-boyfriend, Dro, later. In the interim, they ride around together in Issa’s “party Lyft.” It starts off cute. They drop off some club-hopping girls who remind them of younger versions of themselves. Then they pick up a sexy guy named Nathan who is giving Issa even sexier eyes from the backseat. And then a less sexy guy joins the three of them in the Lyft Line. This is when all hell breaks loose. Less sexy passenger is also extremely disrespectful — he smokes weed in Issa’s car and calls her and Molly “bitches”— and Nathan won’t have it. The men get into a fistfight in the backseat. It’s mayhem that ends with Nathan running away, and less sexy guy with a black eye. Poor Issa can’t catch a break.
To add insult injury, she never gets that text from Daniel letting her know the coast is clear, so she’s rightfully a little upset when she saunters into their shared crib the next morning. But there’s a deeper reason for her angst and she tells Daniel as much. She still has just enough feelings for him to be a jealous that he’s been loudly entertaining other women in her face. Daniel doesn’t deny that he already knew this. There isn’t really a resolution; there rarely is for these kind of situations. Either way, Issa still needs his support during this time of transition, and she reiterates her gratitude before retiring to the couch. It’s there that Nathan sends her a $50 tip for the fiasco in the car.
There is no silver lining in sight for Molly and Dro, though. He lets himself into her apartment with a key she gave him, and it’s the final straw for both of them. Molly asks for her key back, and Dro has the audacity to get upset about it. They argue, and there is no makeup sex, at least not on this night. Dro gives Molly her key and leaves. Not only has he returned an asshole in the third season, he’s doing something weird with his hair and shirts and isn’t nearly as sexy as he was last year. He's so close to being cut off.
During an interview with R29, Rae clarified that the theme of this season is not toxic masculinity like many outlets have been reporting. But she said that there would be some elements of it throughout this eight-episode run. Dro — and the less sexy, disrespectful Lyft rider — is a prime example. He’s coming to the table with hella baggage and boundaries that he needs Molly to honor. Meanwhile, he takes Molly’s boundaries as a challenge to overcome. It makes my blood boil.
Here’s what I would have done if I were Molly: It’s hard to enforce boundaries that you didn’t set upfront, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn't exist. I would have asked for my key back, made my boundaries clear, and then some. I’d casually mentioned other dates, limit Dro to a text-only method of communication, and respond sparingly. Dro needs to know that he’s not the only game in town. I would also shame him for that ridiculous haircut until he cut it off.
Here’s what I would have done if I were Issa: First and foremost, I would have quit working for We Got Y'all a long time ago. At this point, Issa is already living on someone else’s couch, she may as well be broke and have some peace of mind while she looks for other opportunities. And in case it wasn’t clear: I absolutely, 100% would be having sex with Daniel. If anyone deserves some pussy from Issa (dry or not), it’s him. He’s been nothing but good to her. The feelings they have for each other are clearly there. And sure, the possibility that things could get really messy is high, but look at him!
Hopefully she’ll take my advice next week.
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