DIASPORA—We love us some “Insecure” here at OkayAfrica.
We’ll circle back every Monday during Season 2, where contributing writer Alisha Acquaye will dish all the feels on each episode.
It all started with a letter in the mail. Issa, who has been steadily online dating, to no avail, has been secretly pining for Lawrence, her super-delicious ex-boyfriend-roommate who broke up with her after she cheated on him with foine-ass Daniel. Like typical Issa, she’s concocting ways to see him again, and has been unsuccessful, until a piece of important mail lands at her doorstep, leaving Lawrence no choice but to pay a visit.
Unlike Season 1 of Insecure, where Issa pined over her old flame Daniel, this season will, I highly suspect, revolve around Issa’s love, guilt and anticipation for and of Lawrence. Yet, what I enjoy about Insecure is that we aren’t only following Issa’s story. Molly is another prominent character, as well as Lawrence, thus we’re able to see how he’s handling the break up. So although we get caught up in Issa’s fantasies, Lawrence’s lifestyle, confusion and apathy, crashes us back into reality.
Of course, there were the usual Insecure antics that made us fall in love with the show last season. What makes Issa endearing and so relatable are her hip-hop themed daydream sequences. These sequences are especially delightful in “Hella Great”—she does a complete rap routine about dating, with a fork and knife drum beat, imagines her date as a renewed Lawrence, in a conciliatory, calm state, and puts on different personas while dressing up before her Lawrence bait party.
Issa’s world is all about the what ifs of life: the different turns she would take in a situation, but never what the consequences or outcomes may be. Fantasizing is so delightful, that sometimes it takes a longer time to process emotions and identify our reactions after a groundbreaking moment occurs in real life. I should know, I am a writer and an introvert—my life and career is all about writing futures, thoughts, and ideas, but sometimes I catch myself realizing the best comeback to a real incident long after it already happened. I’m swift with my words, but not my mouth.
Pining over an ex-partner is a difficult, exhausting, yet exciting feeling, and with the conclusion of last night’s episode, Issa will be feeling even more invested but equally confused. But before we go into that, let’s catch up with Molly, Issa’s best friend. While Issa’s storyline revolved around the pleasures and pitfalls of romance, Molly’s revolved around race. She’s now seeing a therapist, who is a black woman, but she has yet to truly connect with her and let her guard down. Either way, she does commend herself for finding a black therapist, and I do too. As a person who is interested in therapy, I would prefer my therapist to be a black woman or woman of color, as I’d want to unload my anxieties and sensitivities to a person from a similar background, in hopes my problems wouldn’t be written off as less than they are. Race, gender, sexuality and more not only plays a role in how we move through the world, but how the world moves us. I want a therapist who understands and honors this.
Molly also received a piece of mail that changed her life, or at least her week. After opening the wrong paycheck, she learns that her white male coworker is getting paid more than her. This is nothing new in our society: women get paid less than men, and Black and Latina women, even lower. I’m glad Insecure not only tackles the challenge of dating as a black woman, but also the financial inequality of working as a black woman. Molly tries navigating her way through the information by asking if raises or bonuses have been issued yet, only to find that this is the coworker’s normal pay. Shit.
I’ve negotiated payment before, so I understand how empowering, yet nerve wracking, this conversation with employers can be, but can only imagine it is worse when you know, for a fact, that there’s a payment gap in the company. I hope this season, Molly finds a way to get the salary she deserves. It’s also refreshing to see Molly not as worried about dating, and focusing that energy on making moves and being a boss.
Lawrence is on his brand new, do-me vibe, which is expected after exiting a long term relationship, especially if infidelity was involved. He definitely deserves this moment to explore himself sexually and emotionally. But I worry he may be transforming into a disconnected, callous being. When he sleeps with Tasha, he immediately leaves, in such a rush you would think the apartment is on fire. When Tasha questions him, he says “you’ll be here.” The fact that he knows he can have her when he wants is troubling, and this knowledge of having someone at will can easily be translated into his current relationship with Issa.
Some of you may have watched he and Issa having sex again and felt hopeful about their relationship, or maybe dissatisfied that they hooked up again so soon, without a buildup over the season. Personally, the moment didn’t feel right. I enjoyed the intense passion of them smashing into each other, lips smacking urgently, bodies melting into each other like they never left. But after it ended, I realized how incomplete it felt. It was so sporadic and quick, and to make matters worse, he left immediately afterwards—just like with Tasha.
All we’re left with is Issa’s facial expression, even more confused and anxious than before, until a sly smile crosses her face. It’s the realization that you may not be with someone, but you still have them in some kind of way. The problem is, Lawrence knows he can have her whenever he wants, but I fear he may not actually know if he wants to be with her.
Lawrence is confused. He still cares deeply about Issa, but he’s hurt, and he’s probably also enjoying the freedom of being single and hooking up with someone new. I do, however, sense possible power dynamics arising. What if Lawrence takes advantage of Issa’s vulnerability, and this becomes a habit: he sleeps with her, but doesn’t stick around long enough to talk through things, or just talk to her? Or what if he doesn’t hit her up after this, and she’s left holding onto this one, really quick but intense fuck, and he’s still in Tasha’s bed?
I love Issa. I love Lawrence. I also love the idea of them getting back together, if they both grow as individuals, but the part of me that wants to see them together wonders if I feel that way because I’m so used to seeing that outcome on TV. Person cheats, they break up, and for seasons they dance around their ex, go through ups and downs with other people, until they finally get back together, and the show ends because we’ve been watching it all this time for their love story. But logically, I don’t want Issa and Lawrence to reunite. As aesthetically adorable as they look, they don’t fit together right now, they have much growing up to do, and did I mention that they suck at communicating?
I’m so over the idea that worthwhile relationships are ones that endure: we’ve been taught to believe, especially in heterosexual relationships, that the true test of love is how much pain we can withstand. We’ve seen more of Issa and Lawrence as unhappy people than we have of them in bliss. Flashbacks show that they were once in love, but a series of gradual events led them downhill. I’d hate for Issa to get caught up in the fantasy of getting him back, when in reality, so much between them has changed.