One of the positives of being hella late with this recap is it can be introduced with the happy news that the series has been renewed for a third season!
In “Insecure” episode three, “Hella Open,” the cast is indeed opening up and revealing the good, bad and especially the ugly parts of their personalities.
In the case of our hero Issa (Issa Rae), in her desperation to feel better about herself, she’s entered into a self-described ho phase, a decision that enables the viewer to see just how REALLY awkward she is as a human being. Some people have a high i.q. for casual human interaction and Issa isn’t one of them.
The show opens with a scene in which Issa is in Ben’s (Luke James) apartment where it looks like it’s about to go down. Beyond her clumsiness, the show’s writers quietly have mixed in a statement about a woman’s ability to say no to a man, whose expectations were that sex was guaranteed.
If you’re a woman watching the scene, it’s hard not to feel moments of anxiety wondering whether Issa will make it out of the apartment without being at the least challenged, at the worst raped. If one thinks logically about the series’ overarching message, the chances of Issa being raped are unlikely, but still, the thought runs through one’s mind!
After her efforts to flirt with pure strangers fails, later in the show she turns to seducing her neighbor Eddie (Leon Thomas III), a decision that’s even less bright than sleeping with a co-worker just for the fun of it. If that doesn’t end up biting her in the ass big time, it will be a case of the series choosing to disconnect its script from reality.
That said, the repercussions of sleeping with a neighbor might be upended by the complex’s new management, which has plastered noise violations notices all over everyone’s door, foreshadowing bigger issues on the horizon for Issa and her neighbors.
Speaking of foreshadowing, make note that when Issa tackles her smoke-covered wall (choosing to to cover-up the wallpaper with paint), it’s noteworthy that a dark spot remains on the ceiling, and also a little scary that she gets lightheaded from paint fumes to the point where she has to take a pause while speaking with Molly.
Issa’s grace levels aren’t much higher at her We Got Y’all job, where she tells her co-worker, Frieda (Lisa Joyce), to stop stressing over vice principal Gaines’ (A. Russell Andrews) favoritism of black students over Latino students. In fairness to Issa, it IS good they’re at least helping some students and the principal’s issues aren’t ones that are easily fixed.
As well, Frieda’s argument that Issa would react differently if Gaines were white falls flat because Gaines’ boss is likely a white person and reporting him has much more treacherous implications.
Bigger picture, most leaders bring prejudice into their jobs and in America, most bosses are white males. In the case of Molly, the viewer assumes she has additional challenges as a black woman and is accepting of it because, oh well, that’s how life in America works.
Upending that which is considered to be normal and forcing the viewer to examine that behavior through another lens that isn’t necessarily opposite is equal is part of an ongoing theme that makes this series so nuanced and much more than just a TV drama about the struggle for love and happiness as seen through the eyes of an African American woman.
Still, this is TV and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Issa suffers some level of punishment for choosing to ignore the principal’s behavior, especially given one of Issa’s ongoing issues is that she doesn’t ever seem to have an opinion of her own and always goes along.
Checking in with Lawrence (Jay Ellis), who is happy as a clam chatting with his white co-workers about attending a hook-up industry get together, the perfect no muss no fuss for Lawrence’s current state of mind. Without blinking, he smoothly lays down a lie of omission, telling his co-workers he can’t join them at the event not because he’s attending Tasha’s (Dominique Perry) family barbecue, but “I promised someone I would pick up some chairs.”
The next time we see Lawrence, he’s in bed with Tasha, and she’s stressing over the upcoming barbecue, all the while sending up signals of the coupledom that exists in her head vis-a-vis a scarf and sweatpants and a push to spend quality time watching TV and just chilling rather than a just-sex connection.
Meanwhile, Molly (Yvonne Orji) for the moment has given up on love, unimpressed by a lunch date with a seemingly-nice Lionel (Sterling K. Brown) who according to Molly is just looking to “check off boxes.” Instead she’s focused like a laser on work, finding some relief from the hostile environment of her own office by working with a decidedly more diverse Chicago office.
Focused on her money or not, it’s a heart-sink moment when she tells Issa that she’s put her therapist on pause until “I find another therapist,” lamely adding, “Dr. Pine (Denise Dowse) was always putting her shit on me, just because we both have brown titties.”
The series makes a comment on class differences when it introduces Lawrence to Tasha’s family at the barbecue where being put to work upon arrival and the sight of a twerking flute player (a shout out to the mask off movement according to Rae) are enough to make him turn flight and run back into the arms of his co-workers, whose biggest ish is what type of high-priced drink their partaking in.
In a scene showing Lawrence hitting behavioral rock bottom, he blows off Tasha, forcing her to call him and put him on blast for ghosting her in front of her family. “You a fuck n*gga who thinks he’s a good dude,” she lets him know. It’s a fair assessment, but it leaves Lawrence utterly unfazed and it takes about two breaths for him to shake it off and head back to the party.
Check out a preview of next week plus episode three’s “Wine Down” with the show’s music composer Rafael Saadiq. Interestingly, Saadiq describes Molly as the turn-up lawyer who’s his type because she’s “p&g” aka play and go, a description that surprises Rae.