Kathleen & Duana watch Insecure
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Kathleen and I have been talking about Insecure and Issa Rae since way before it had a name. We were both fans of Awkward Black Girl and despaired at the false starts of getting this woman on our TV screens. So anticipation was high, and like nerds, we pressed play at the same time:
The show isn’t called Awkward Black Girl but has lots of its DNA. Issa’s great, and the relationship with her best friend is even better. It’s authentic right off the top, and, crucially, the show doesn’t feel like it has to rush the scenes to get to the funny parts. There are many, both in wordplay and in situation, and you get the feeling that this is what’s between these women, in their fictional friendship—that they make each other laugh.
Kathleen and I were also trying to make each other laugh, so much so that our repartee is overlapping without waiting for the other person to chime back in:
However, there was a story point somewhere around the 10 minute mark that uh...made us differ in opinion.
The show makes a big deal about the fact that Issa is 29 – in fact (spoiler, but don’t worry about it) the show takes place on her 29th birthday. Neither of us missed this…it just didn’t mean the same thing to us both.
Like all cable comedies, or cable ‘half-hours’ as we’re saying now, there’s room for people to have serious revelations from time to time. It sets up a lot of the upcoming season, but it’s definitely not straight-up hilarity:
Which means that at the end, a surprise open mic performance leads to a friend betrayal which leads to many different recriminations in many different car stops – which is a very ‘LA being LA’ thing (and not just on this show, this was evident all through Judd Apatow’s Love as well) – cars aren’t just transport, they’re venues for intense conversations.
We talk about ‘highly anticipated pilots’ but this one was different than that…it was almost more lengthily anticipated than anything. As such, it was subject to a lot of our imaginings, but it left us mostly satisfied…
It wasn’t perfect, obviously. Seeing both women’s workplaces was really refreshing, but the men in the show felt boring and unmemorable. Given that they’re meant to be disposable, that’s okay with me – and lord knows we’ve seen female characters who are equally as one-note – but I’d like to see Issa and Molly’s larger world sometime soon.
I also thought, with the amount of development that we’d heard was happening, that the show might be a little unusual, concept-wise. But Kathleen pointed out that seeing people who look like Issa and Molly in a ‘traditional’ narrative is exactly the point—it doesn’t need any unusual tricks or modifications. For my money, it doesn’t need the voiceover at the top either – Issa’s ‘mirror face’ is effective enough at letting us know what she’s thinking.
In the end, this is one of those shows that has the room and, in my buzzword this month, the specificity, to be really great, and the story about millennial women that we haven’t yet seen on HBO. To wit:
Attached - Issa at the Oakland premiere of Insecure last week.