Having just wrapped up its second season on Sunday, with a third season already confirmed, HBO’s series Insecure has become the show that’s launched 1,000 cultural conversations across various social networks—where everything from sexual fluidity to the overall black experience has been dissected. Through that examination, most have reckoned its a program with nuanced, authentic portrayals that aren’t always represented in media. But oddly, others have actually criticized the imperfections embedded in those fully fleshed roles, which are an intricate component of the black experience.
We examined three instances when Insecure plot elements set social media ablaze and just why they are so important to black audiences.
When Molly Wasn’t A Supporter Of Black Male Sexual Fluidity
Back in season one of the series, Issa’s best friend, Molly, was going through a series of dates with different guys. During this process, she had certain expectations in what she was looking for — inevitably crossing guys off of her list for arbitrary reasons. Amongst the men was Jered, an employee at a Rent-a-Center, who she enjoyed sex with.
In episode 6 of season 1, Molly revealed to him that she had an experience with a girl in college. In turn, Jered responded with his own same-sex admission. The difference between both same-sex experiences is stark. Molly''s was deemed permissible, while Jered’s exploration made him gay.
The disparate responses are surfaced in a later conversation between Molly and her girlfriends.
“It’s different for women,” Tiffany explains.
Kelly, the comedic but ultimately insightful friend, pointed out the ridiculousness of the statement asking: “So once a dude touches a dick, he’s gay? It’s like straight, straight, straight, straight, straight, Lee Daniels?” bringing her fingers together until they touched. And while some on social media may call for a character that’s more “woke” or accepting, Molly’s reaction and the resulting conversation are quite true to life.
When Issa weighed in, she started off sounding like she was fresh out of a class on gender and sexuality, saying that black men shouldn’t be put in such a rigid box of masculinity and allowed to explore. She eventually reneges on that position when Molly broke up with the guy. The idea of there being rigid ideas of masculinity for black men is nothing new. Moonlight, as a film that never definitively identifies its character as homosexual deals with this, as have countless visual artists. Conversations about toxic masculinity seem ever present. So Insecure wasn’t off base.
When Issa and Lawrence Might Not Have Been Using Condoms For ‘Meaningless’ Sex
At the end of the show’s first season, Issa broke up with Lawrence, her longtime boyfriend. As a result, both characters seemed to follow the mantra of, “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else." Viewers on social media began to take the show to task saying that there was a need to show characters using sexual protection. And though Rae herself hit back on Twitter saying that the show does place condoms in the background of sex scenes, it’s a curious demand.
Unless immaculate conception is a more occurring phenom than we’ve previously been told, and STD rates are not to be believed, real life would tell us that not all are wearing condoms all the time. What’s more, has any other show been held to this standard? Was Girls subject to questions about condom usage? Before it was revealed on-screen that the lead character wore a nuvaring did Younger have to answer those inquiries? What about Power? Is anyone questioning Ghost? Why must Insecure? The charge smacks of a double standard.
When Talk About Blowjobs Wasn’t All Sex Positive
As season 2 of the show wound down there was another instance in which viewers expected progressive attitudes. It was in a storyline about blowjobs. In the episode, Issa and her girlfriends are again talking, this time at Sexplosions which is a sex-positive conference. When the topic of blowjobs comes up, the group is split, Tiffany being an ardent proponent of them, while the rest of her friends are more reticent. Eventually, the group chalks it up to race with Kelly laying the fault of black women’s hangups about oral at the feet of the black church.
“You went to those all-white-girl private schools, so you’re brainwashed Becky,” Issa tells Tiffany, surfacing an age old idea that white women are more eager and willing to give head than black women. In the following days conversation kicked up with viewers with some saying the scene seemed dated and out of place with the times. Some charged that we’ve already fought that battle. But just because we fought the battle, does that mean that everyone’s views have changed?
'Insecure' Is A Show About The Actual Experiences Of Black People And Those Are Valid
In the post show “wine down” to the previously mentioned blowjob episode, show creator Issa Rae and Jay Ellis (Lawrence on the show) make it clear that much of the show is an amalgamation of experiences by Rae and the people of color around her. And that is significant.
While it provides instantly relatable moments like Molly telling Tiffany to “shut yo’ light skinned ass up,” or a white girl remarking on Lawrence’s “big black cock” which is an experience many men of color have, it also is a defense for some criticisms against the show.
At its core, Insecure builds a world of fully-rounded, flawed characters who happen to be black. And in highlighting the complicated nature of inter-community micro-aggressions, as well as the contradictions they have to reconcile with on a daily basis, it paints one of the most accurate pictures of the modern black experience to date.
For more Insecure coverage, check out how the show dropped some sly Frank Ocean references.