By Olivia Popp
What can I say? Issa Rae has done it again.
Now in its second season, the critically-lauded popular HBO show created by Stanford grad Issa Rae is back and better than ever. Clever, biting wit mixed with pitch-perfect musical timing and precise comedic editing so sharp it could cut a rock clean in half makes the fictionalized reality of several young black professionals living in LA all the more compelling.
We last left Rae’s character, Issa Dee, after her dramatic (and traumatic) breakup with her boyfriend of five years, Lawrence Walker. Starting with the second season premiere entitled “Hella Great,” in an attempt to move on — while still knowing she can’t — Issa resorts to all sorts of efforts to let loose and have fun, often with somewhat disastrous yet hilarious results. Daniel, the man she slept with while still with Lawrence, is still faded but omnipresent in her life. Issa doesn’t know what she wants. Lawrence doesn’t know what he wants. Molly doesn’t know what she wants. Like plenty of others out there, the immense freedom of choice in social and personal circles is sometimes more harm than help when it comes to finding a partner and one’s own personal success.
Season two gives viewers a stronger and well-deserved look into the lives of other characters. Molly, Issa’s best friend, finally seeks therapy after goading from Issa back in season one, but also struggles to deal with the fact that a white coworker is making significantly more money than she. Lawrence attempts to move on with Tasha, a bank teller who takes an interest in him, but doesn’t quite know what to make of her interests — she’s just not quite Issa. While still remaining centered on Issa’s narrative, “Insecure” weaves in the narratives of others making the show all the more well-rounded and full. They’re no longer side characters to strengthen Issa’s own story, and they’ve quickly taken up lives of their own — both literally and metaphorically.
In only eight episodes — the first season — we’ve been introduced to Issa and proceeded to dive straight into her problems. Now, with eight more on the docket for season two, “Insecure” brings a fresh new look at single life for Issa, Molly and Lawrence. It’s a whole new narrative, navigating a whole new set of problems for the potentially serial monogamist Issa. Issa struggles with social, work and personal problems just like all of us, but with the well-deserved narrative of a young black woman that Hollywood so desperately needs. No thread is left untied, no stone left unturned; from physical details to narrative points you might have forgotten from season one are back to suck you in to the world of “Insecure.” Even Molly’s precious dog — and a personal favorite of mine — Flavor Flav is back to make a fun appearance.
The second season of “Insecure” is filled with even more beautiful, well-timed comedic and dramatic moments — bringing back Issa’s signature inner monologue raps — as well as a shocking, emotion-filled scene at the end of the season premiere. Lawrence’s narrative is especially filled with trials and tribulations, including a police encounter and a sexual experience that’s most likely quite out of the ordinary for him. A favorite of mine is within Molly’s complex personal narrative when she is seated in her apartment, chatting on the phone, only to pan and reveal two white men she has hired to put together the bookshelf she struggled with hours earlier — such an apt and hysterical turn of events for everything that Molly has going on in her life. To top it all off, Emmy-winning actor Sterling K. Brown, another Stanford grad, makes a wonderful guest appearance in episode three as well.
Yet this year, there were no 2017 Emmy nominations for “Insecure” nor the jack-of-all-trades creator, writer and star Rae. This remains frustrating for so many, seeing as the show still remains exceedingly funny, poignant and relevant for viewers even into its second season. Even if it feels like it’s not your type of show, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and watch “Insecure.” There is so much to be gleaned and learned from a show of this caliber — you may just begin to see people in a whole new light.
This show is for the masses, for the TV lovers and for the young people just like Issa out in the world struggling to put their lives together. “Insecure” gets real, and it’s utterly, absolutely magnificent.
Beginning at 3:00 am PT on July 23, the entire first season will be free to stream for 24 hours at youtube.com/HBO and HBO.com as well as on select other non-HBO platforms and channels. Season two of “Insecure” will begin airing on July 23 at 10:30 pm PT on HBO.
Contact Olivia Popp at opopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.