Insecure First Look Review: Black Woman, White America

Chad White

“Insecure as Fuck”
Season 1, Episode 1

This is a first look review of HBO’s Insecure starring Issa Rae.

Drama comedies used to be a specialty market. For a long time, a comedy was pure comedy with the exception of only a handful of shows like Mad About You and Sports Night. (Sorry for reaching back deep in the vault but those were the first ones to come to mind). Now, almost every comedian that makes a show has to deal with tough subject matter. While it works for a few of them, it feels stale in others. But Insecure is different. The premiere episode didn’t have a sappy story about a struggling comedian nor did it overreach in its subject matter. Issa Rae’s transition from web to TV was made with a conscious effort in storytelling. And, with the help of Larry Wilmore, it makes for originality. But that doesn’t mean this show is for everybody.

Rae stars as Issa Dee, an awkward black girl just figuring out life. It also features Yvonne Orji as Dee’s best friend Molly who is the most successful out of the two. These two work well with each other as they share anecdotes about the men they date and navigate the tricky waters of friendship. What’s more is that the two have to deal with being black women in a world that favors white men. Just looking at the future episode titles ("Racist as Fuck" stands out in particular) gives little light on how their stories will be told. But Rae in particular stands out with her monologues and montages. For instance, when psyching herself up, Rae uses a mirror as a playback device for her lines. She’s forceful and loud as she tries out several voices and catchphrases. The scene pops up twice, being entertaining both times.

But then there’s the issue of men in both the women’s lives. Every half hour show deals with sexual relationships but, here, it slows down the story. Dee feels bored with her current beau so she’s thinking about moving on to another guy. Points should be given for how she brings up the issue of samey dates with her boyfriend at the end of the episode rather than wasting time season wide but it comes off as far too simple. Insecure played better when Dee and Molly were at a club having fun (with Dee getting a freestyle rap!) and showing the ins and outs of their friendship through conversation.

Should you watch Insecure?

There are a lot of new comedies this year (as evidenced by First Look Reviews). And a lot of them are really good while others are just good. Insecure came out strong with several elements that help the show stand out (use of Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” in the opening, Childish Gambino in the title, and a Simpsons reference). But there are things that help it blend in with the pack (as Carly Rae said “Boy problems. Who’s got ‘em?”). But, in the end, this show lured me in and kept me there. Plus, I can’t wait to see a show about minority women in today’s America. It won’t be for everyone but give it a shot.