‘Insecure’ makes black women ask the hard questions

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For most hardworking, college-educated black women, TV is a healthy pastime. Whether it’s the mindless consumption of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” or the emotional investment of “How To Get Away With Murder,” shows featuring black women can take your mind off your own issues. When a show doubles as an episode for your own day-to-day, however, it becomes less of a mental getaway and more of a cautionary reminder to get your sh*t together.

For a late 20-something-year-old black woman living an honest-to-God regular life, Rae’s new breakout comedy series “Insecure” is the type of small screen fare we’ve been praying for since “Girlfriends.” The breakout HBO show features the misadventures of two contemporary black women named Issa and Molly who are just trying to navigate shady coworkers, broke boyfriends and swipe-right situationships like the rest of us.

–‘Insecure’ star Yvonne Orji talks being a virgin at 32–

Creatively mined from the makings of black women’s group chats, “Insecure” hilariously exposes the anxieties that manifest themselves in the nooks and crannies of our everyday lives without the heavy, lip-quivering dramatics. As Issa enters the last year of her twenties, she questions everything from her five-year relationship (and her feelings for a not-quite ex) to her confidence at work in an effort to stop living a complacent life. Meanwhile, Molly struggles with having success without a partner, which leads her on an overly desperate quest to find Mr. Right.

Yet, cocooned inside of all the witty BFF banter and sarcastic punchlines are the tough realities, such as stigmas surrounding heteronormative behavior, unintentional respectability politics and infidelity. In an episode titled “Guilty As F*ck,” Issa toils with the regret of cheating on her man as Molly struggles with her dude dabbling in same-sex experimentation. Elsewhere, in “Racist As F*ck,” Molly suggests that a fellow black associate take to code-switching more often.

It’s that kind of in-your-face relatability that tosses double standards at viewers like lunchroom food fight and forces you to come to terms with your values. Would you keep your cheating a secret? How do you define gay? What’s your idea of “too black”?

Though the show is very regular in nature, it’s a novelty showcase of blackness in a way that intimately tugs at your personal life. It’s not necessarily consumed with the flawlessness or high-powered success of black women like several other shows. Instead, “Insecure” digs deeper, tapping into the self-doubt that even notable accomplishments — Molly’s a burgeoning attorney at a high-end law firm — can’t eclipse.

Every week, the self-consciousness you’ve yet to overcome is staring back at you while watching Issa and Molly shade one another over mimosas and tacos, whether that’s facing the fact that you’re also too desperate to find love or the gut-wrenching reality that you’re unhappy in your relationship. It’s the admission to texting your ex you’d only express to your closest friends over chardonnay or the safe space of solitude where you can also bawl your eyes out over not being married yet. Hell, it’s the realization that you’ve probably passed up several great guys because they don’t have a college degree and work at Enterprise. 

No matter your come-to-Jesus moments after each episode of “Insecure,” it’s an authentic reflection of most black women in a digital age, no different than the bathroom mirrors Issa raps to. The best kind of TV is the stuff that resonates with you and starts the conversations that stir up heated Twitter debates, and Issa Rae gets that while making you face yourself.

As the season finale approaches (thankfully, it’s been picked up for a second season) and we all scramble to get our last bit of faux-therapy, one thing’s for certain: “Insecure” is real as f*ck.

Niki McGloster is a Maryland-based writer and co-founder of her sweat. She has written for ESSENCE, Genius, Billboard, VIBE and Teen Vogue. Follow her on Twitter at @missjournalism