The HBO comedy is healthier as a friendship story than as a love story.
Each week, we choose a brand new episode of the week. It could possibly be good. It could possibly be dangerous. It should at all times be fascinating. You’ll be able to read the archives here. The episode of the week for September 9 by means of 15 is “High-Like,” the fifth episode of the third season of HBO’s Insecure.
Why do you watch your favourite TV present? What’s it about it that makes you retain coming again to it, time and again?
That’s a deceptively easy query — but one which’s usually very tough to reply. And naturally, the reply will range from present to point out. I’d watch Game of Thrones for its elaborate world-building, and Superstore for its pretty character work. The Handmaid’s Tale lets me take a look at our actuality by means of a skewed lens, whereas Stranger Things takes me away from it totally.
However when a present reveals that it’s prioritizing one thing different than what you care about most, whereas that will not be a dealbreaker, it may be arduous to push previous. That’s how I felt as the most recent episode of the HBO comedy Insecure, one among my favourite reveals, reached its ultimate scene and revealed one thing the present had clearly been holding onto for a while. I sighed in frustration. My spouse squealed in delight. Clearly, we have been watching for 2 very completely different causes.
However to speak extra about that, I’m going to must spoil what occurred, so for those who haven’t seen the episode, chances are you’ll need to go watch it earlier than you learn additional.
Do you watch Insecure for the love story or for the friendship story?
What’s most shocking to me about my response to “Excessive-Like” is that, up till its ultimate scene, “Excessive-Like” had been one among my favourite episodes of Insecure to this point, as a result of it foregrounded the a part of the present that I care about most: the story of a bunch of buddies of their early 30s, navigating the difficult mix of private lives collectively.
The episode sends Issa (Issa Rae, additionally the collection’ co-creator), Molly (Yvonne Orji), Kelli (Natasha Rothwell), and Tiffany (Amanda Seales) to the Coachella music competition, in order that they may try Beyoncé’s groundbreaking performance from earlier this 12 months. In true TV comedy trend, they by no means reach truly attending to see Beyoncé, a lot much less proper up entrance.
They preserve getting waylaid by quite a lot of amusing calamities and poignant conferences, and the episode skillfully pivots from the hilarious (Issa attempting to get up her buddies after all of them go to sleep whereas ready for Molly to point out up after work, by banging sheet pans collectively) to the shifting (Issa and new love curiosity Nathan connecting in a damaged Ferris wheel automotive).
It’s not the present’s most plot-heavy episode, however the mixture of the Coachella setting and the characters chopping free makes for an installment that appears like a respite from the remainder of the season’s tales, which have centered on Issa and Molly’s skilled dissatisfaction, in addition to Issa’s love life within the wake of former boyfriend Lawrence (Jay Ellis) exiting her life completely at the end of season two. And for those who’ve seen the episode already, you may in all probability guess what I’m going to speak about subsequent.
The episode ends with Issa strolling right into a 7-11, the place she bumps into Lawrence himself, utterly unexpectedly. It seems he hasn’t exited her life — or the present — as completely as viewers might need thought (or heard). And judging from a few of the Twitter reactions I saw, Lawrence’s return was one thing Insecure needed to have recognized would delight its followers.
I wasn’t fairly so comfortable. I actually cherished the way in which the primary two seasons of Insecure dug in and examined why the Lawrence and Issa pairing wasn’t fairly proper, and checked out how each halves of that equation would want to spend a while maturing earlier than they may have the ability to come collectively in a far more useful to each of them. Bringing Lawrence again simply 5 episodes after the season two finale solidified their breakup felt a bit just like the collection was reneging on a promise it had made to me.
And, look, I understand how tv works, so I do know that Insecure was virtually at all times going to finish (a number of seasons down the highway, hopefully) with Issa and Lawrence collectively, since you don’t make investments that a lot time and a spotlight in a pair with out finally paying it off. And I additionally know that actor contracts usually necessitate paying for a full season, even for those who’re not going to make use of an actor that a lot, so why shouldn’t Insecure get its cash’s price out of getting Jay Ellis round, proper?
Nevertheless it was the primary time I felt just like the present was letting its followers — who’re notoriously tremendous into Lawrence — make inventive selections, as an alternative of deciding for itself. We all know a lot about Issa and Lawrence’s connection and surprisingly little about Issa’s connection together with her three greatest buddies (one thing Tiffany brings into the textual content of the present by fretting over her place within the group within the scene instantly earlier than Lawrence’s return). These relationships deserve simply as a lot consideration. That’s clearly an unfair criticism, as a result of if anyone can discover new tales to inform that includes Lawrence, it’s Rae and her inventive collaborators. They haven’t steered flawed up to now.
Nevertheless it’s nonetheless what I felt, as a result of I used to be so having fun with this season’s deal with different features of Issa’s life. And it left me questioning if Insecure is supposed to be a coming-of-age story a few girl in her 30s, or a romantic comedy. And if it’s extra the latter than the previous, is that the present I signed on for?
Issa’s love life is a vital a part of Insecure, however I hope it doesn’t turn out to be the solely half
Utterly coincidentally, I had Rothwell on my podcast, I Think You’re Interesting, this week, so we acquired to speak about how the present is constructed. (She’s additionally a author on the collection.) And he or she informed me that Insecure’s writers view the collection as a love story between Issa and Molly, celebrating their friendship and the methods it helps them get by means of the tumultuous elements of their lives they discover themselves in.
And that’s what I’ve keyed into whereas watching the present. My favourite scenes are usually those that function Rae and Orji, and I really like when that expands to incorporate Rothwell and Seales as properly. Certainly, I preserve discovering myself hoping that the present will do extra to broaden the lives of Kelli and Tiffany, who’re persistently liable for a few of its most chopping traces and greatest moments.
“Excessive-Like” might have been a good way to try this, and it does, to some extent. There’s some deal with how Tiffany’s present being pregnant has affected the group, and I really like the way in which the characters work together, then cut up off for their very own adventures, at each a celebration they attend and afterward at Coachella. The episode’s story — all people goes to a giant occasion however by no means truly makes it there — is as previous because the sitcom format itself, however that’s as a result of it’s such an efficient method to get to know characters exterior of their normal domains. And the way in which that Issa virtually takes her buddies as a right whereas ready on pins and needles for a textual content from Nathan does underscore how she lets her love life step all around the different people who find themselves vital to her.
However that ultimate reveal with Lawrence is the form of factor that means a shift is afoot. The season up to now has ably balanced Issa and firm figuring themselves out with out the presence of a serious romantic story arc, however the finish of “Excessive-Like” reveals that the present isn’t as performed with Lawrence because it pretended to be. And regardless that Lawrence isn’t a nasty character or something like that, it does really feel as if Insecure has form of exhausted what it will possibly consider to do with him in the intervening time, form of much like how Women felt compelled to maintain Adam Driver round, regardless that he ceased being Hannah’s foremost love curiosity about midway by means of the present.
However this, in fact, is simply how these tales work. It’s rather a lot tougher to maintain viewers curiosity in a narrative about buddies struggling collectively by means of skilled and private ups and downs than it’s a story about star-crossed lovers who lastly discover their means again to one another. However Insecure doesn’t want the Lawrence increase, not proper now. Its scores are good, the tales it’s telling are compelling, and the laughs are coming as rapidly as ever.
I do know I’m overreacting — I even knew I used to be overreacting within the second, when Lawrence first confirmed up. And I belief Rae and her workforce to ensure his return doesn’t take over the present. However I certain wouldn’t have minded a bit extra time simply with Issa and her buddies, earlier than the inevitable will-they/gained’t-they resurfaced to remind me I used to be watching a TV present.
Insecure airs Sundays at 10:30 pm Japanese on HBO. Earlier episodes can be found on HBO’s streaming providers.