“Insecure,” Issa Rae’s new comedy on HBO, is anything but. The show confidently maneuvers through very different, very real issues with fast-paced humor. It revolves around protagonist Issa and her best friend Molly, two women in their late 20’s living in Los Angeles and dealing with the issues and insecurities that come from aging, dating and working.
The first episode, “Insecure as F**k,” begins in a classroom, where Issa is promoting We Got ‘Yall, the company where she works. The end of her presentation is marked by students asking personal questions about her identity and dating life. Faced with questions like “Why do you talk like a white girl?” and “Why aren’t you married?” Issa responds with the perfect amount of hilarity and awkwardness that highlight the insecurities of being an unmarried 29-year-old. For anyone who has visited home only to be confronted by nosy relatives inquiring about dating and boyfriends, this scene is more than relatable.
At work, Issa struggles with being the “token black girl,” and must put up with her ignorant coworkers who think she is the authority on slang like “on fleek.” Meanwhile, her best friend, Molly, is a successful and beautiful lawyer who seems to have it all. That is, except for a boyfriend.
The show successfully tackles dating insecurities from both ends of the spectrum: Issa is in a long-term relationship but worries she is wasting away her 20s with a man she won’t marry; Molly, on the other hand, is nervous that she will never find a partner. When Molly’s coworker gets engaged, Molly has to feign excitement and mask anger as she listens to the sappy story. Her reaction is a hilarious representation of the way many people feel when pretending to be happy for accomplishments of others.
Later in the episode, Issa breaks up with her unambitious boyfriend. Intent on living her remaining year in her 20s to the fullest, she takes Molly to a club where her high school crush, Daniel, spends his nights. At the club, Daniel, who is a music producer, encourages Issa to perform some of her raps for open mic night. She starts off a bit shaky, but soon gains confidence and begins rapping about Molly’s “broken p***y.” If this song were on iTunes, it would definitely be a top seller.
Molly, who is understandably upset, fights with Issa over the song, and the two end up leaving on bad terms after Issa abandons Molly to hook up with Daniel. In a nice turn of events, Issa arrives at Daniel’s only to promptly leave, preferring to spend the night with Molly.
The comedic timing in “Insecure” is spot on. Jokes are delivered at a lightning-fast pace, yet are worked smoothly into the dialogue. However, it is the characters who steal the show: Issa and Molly are both personable and flawed, and their relatable reactions allow viewers to understand the insecurities everyone faces.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 11 print edition. Email Lily Dolin at [email protected]