“Insecure‘s” fifth episode, “Lowkey Movin On,” has been built up as a pivotal moment in the season but who knew it wouldn’t be because of the actual block party itself but rather because of a dramatic blow up between main characters Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) that played out at the event.
This is the episode we’re finally provided the context for Issa’s table-setting, season opening line: “I don’t really f*ck with Molly anymore,” a foreboding statement that transforms the series into something much more complex than the half-hour comedy series it’s billed as.
In the episode’s most pivotal scene, Molly discovers Issa had gone around her to ask her boyfriend, Andrew Tan (Alexander Hodge) for a favor. Thwarted by Molly, Issa reached out to her ex, Nate Campbell (Kendrick Sampson), who connected her with Andrew. Issa’s effort pays off with Andrew providing a connection to Vince Staples who commits to headlining the show.
Molly’s discovery comes following last week’s episode when she let Issa know she wanted to keep her friendship separate from her burgeoning relationship with Andrew (who works at Live Nation), and therefore wouldn’t link them
Molly decision once again set up an online debate that Insecure has been so good at creating. In this case, the question is the degree to which one friend is required to help another friend in what can be perceived as a borderline emergency situation. While Molly had her fair share of supporters, it was clear on social media that most fans viewed Molly as a hater who simply didn’t want to see her friend win.
However, whatever supporters Molly may have had after episode four, most of them were forced into hiding in episode five after she ran up on Issa at the block party and lit into over what she perceived as a betrayal of their friendship. There’s a time and a place for everything and picking a fight in the midst of Issa pulling off an amazing, dream-come-true event was universally viewed as dead wrong.
In the scene, Molly tells Issa, “You deliberately went behind my back. I was very clear about how I felt, but I guess, what, that didn’t mean anything to you?” IIssa fires back, “Because Molly, you were willing to let me fail? Over what? Some random rule you made up?”
As their voices begin to rise Issa adds, “Molly, you knew how much this event meant to me. You saw me at We Got Y’all, you saw me struggling. You decided your new relationship was more important than doing me one little ass favor?” The conversation officially goes off the rails when Molly fires back, “N*gga, you stay needing one little ass favor!”
Issa then accuses Molly of being miserable and she hits back by telling Issa she’s a user, a selfish bitch and a liar. Ouch! Their thoughts about each other have been simmering beneath the surface for a long time and now that they’ve been boiled over, there’s no taking them back.
While the season was set up as an examination of Issa and Molly’s friendship with both contributing equally to its demise, it’s apparent the story line has gotten away from writers with fans loudly rooting for Issa as irritation with Molly seemingly growing with each episode.
It’s a dynamic that’s not surprising given Issa is not only the star of the show but portrays a character inherently more relatable/lovable than Molly, who represents the never popular, often-hated female boss archetype.
At the same time, prior to the start of the season Rae explained Issa and Molly were drifting apart because their usual ways of relating to each other were crumbling: Molly was falling in love for the first time and Issa after years of work discontent was finally finding her creative path.
One could argue that Issa’s story line once again was not only much more sympathetic (follow your dream!) but also more clearly expressed versus Molly’s story of finding love. Rather than seeing moments of growing intimacy between Molly and Andrew, we mainly see them struggling to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Case in point, Andrew choosing to help out Issa not knowing Molly had shut her down.
From a viewer perspective all of this has led to a Molly hate train so packed, executive producer and show runner Prentice Penny felt compelled to push back. Beyond the show, perception of Molly matters at the moment because Orji the actress is in the midst of promoting “Momma I Made It,” an HBO stand up comedy special launching June 6, 2020.
Supporting Molly’s description of Issa as a liar, in an interview with TV Guide, Penny explained, “You could argue that when Issa cheated on Lawrence [Walker] (Jay Ellis), that was lying. When she isn’t upfront with Molly, those are lies of omission.”
He added, “And it is shady for Issa to go around Molly and get Andrew to help her. She used Nate to go to Andrew. She purposely left out information after Molly asked her to respect a relationship boundary. Issa didn’t respect her friend’s relationship. Molly tried to make gestures of friendship by coming to the block party and giving her chicken wings. Molly tried to get past the weird place in their friendship, but felt disrespected, and she was mad so she said hurtful things. They’re both hurting right now.”
That said, as crazy as Issa and Molly’s relationship is right now, Rae promises the second half of the season will head down a different path though it won’t necessarily add up to a reconciliation between the two friends. In an interview with ET, Rae explained, “I’m going to say that the second half of this season is very different than the first half of this season. And there’s going to have to be a lot of reflection on both sides.”