Thursday, December 2

Goodbye Insecure: How HBO’s Hit Comedy Changed the Game | Unsafe


Northor more Issa rapping encouraging jokes to herself in a mirror. No more Molly embracing the tough love she so badly needs while avoiding her own mess at the same time. No more drug-fueled Coachella scenes that end in fights and tase. HBO’s mega-hit comedy Insecure comes to an end after its fifth season, released this weekend, the end of an invitation for viewers around the world, especially black women like me, to appreciate the hilarious and stratified reality of fixing things.

Insecure has been a masterclass in embracing authenticity specifically the authentic experiences lived by black women in TV. How Insecure’s millennial protagonists cope with the throes of adulthood, unhappy relationships both romantic and platonic And trying to forge a legacy while balancing daily responsibilities, Insecure proves that black life in its most everyday form is fun, dramatic, embarrassing, and relatable, okay?

Created by and starring Issa Rae (Insecure is based on her award-winning web series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl), the show follows the friendship and chronically messy lives of Issa Dee and her romantically doomed best friend Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) and varied romantic activities of the two. Insecure, in its first episode, embraced both characters with their flaws and mutual selfishness: Issa, who is too scared to leave a twisted relationship with her boyfriend of five years, Lawrence (Jay Ellis), and Molly, whose overthinking of her own happiness. and love life leaves her feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. The show went on to include stories about mental health, sex, unconventional romantic relationships, masculinity, gentrification, and other topics that may be characteristic of black life without forcing all too common meditations on black trauma that don’t feel rooted in life. experience.

“It shows blacks just being black without any added sauce,” Orji said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. “A lot of times when you have a show that focuses on black characters, it’s like, ‘Okay, well, what is the difficult situation that they have to overcome? Was he an indolent father? Was it cocaine? No, [on Insecure]It was having a degree and still not finding the job you wanted. That is also a difficult real-life black situation. It doesn’t have to be so lasciviously traumatic. “

In recent decades, television has featured more and more black female leads, particularly highlighting black female friendships. Sitcoms like Girlfriends and Living Single chronicled the realities of how black women socialize and the joy at the center of our friendships. Insecure is a nod to these shows, but it swaps out a laugh track and traditional sitcom generally set up for a more modern and realistic portrayal of black life. Issa drives a Lyft to pay for an apartment. Molly and Issa navigating the problems of a mostly white workplace. They both care about marriage and the ability to achieve long-term healthy relationship goals.

Since then, Insecure and the changing television landscape it inspired have ushered in a series of new shows about black women and the way we live: Run the World on Starz, and Harlem, which will premiere on Amazon Prime, to name a few. “The goal was to uplift normal black people and make us look as beautiful in our regularity as humanly possible,” Rae said in an interview with the New York Times. Insecure achieves that and more, ten times more.

Insecure protects its realistic portrayal of black women and black life in general by centering black creatives behind the scenes: the writers room, costume department, and other central creative arenas. While some of the most popular black TV shows of the past were written by mostly white writing rooms, Insecure features primarily black writers (“When I came to Insecure, our diversity hires are white people,” said Insecure writer Ben Cory Jones).

Issa Rae and Natasha Rothwell in Insecure.
Issa Rae and Natasha Rothwell in Insecure. Photograph: Merie W. Wallace / HBO

But Insecure also uses his form, producing bright and aesthetically pleasing shots of Los Angeles, to further his main goal of representing ordinary black people. Director and Executive Producer Melina Matsoukas, who directed the Queen and Slim and Beyoncé Formation video, sets visually striking episodes that highlight the beautiful South Los Angeles neighborhoods, which are often stereotyped in the media, and make the world of the program is even more attractive.

Beyond the visual aesthetics of the show, Insecure’s costume styles, from costume designers Ayanna James Kimani and Shiona Turini (from season three), make the show feel fresh and crisp despite the characters, sometimes, they have the social grace of Steve Urkel from Family Matters. Insecure’s fashion is enviable, elegant and fluid, growing with the characters and their changing tastes and purchasing powers as they move into new stages of life. The cast sport a mix of designer cuts, trendy sportswear, and Issa graphic tees, with showwear and accessories often sourced from black-owned companies, a custom reflection of how young black men dress in notables. throwbacks to the defining fashion of black cultural moments. as a Halloween costume worn by Kelli in season four inspired by the 1997 sitcom Baps in film and television.

Insecure’s music, a collaboration of Rae, composer Raphael Saadiq, and music supervisor Kier Lehman, also features a mix of young artists, including hits from SZA, Rico Nasty, BJ the Chicago Kid, and many others. Songs like SZA supermodel, used at the end of the second season After Dee has accepted the end of her relationship with Lawrence, rate the important moments for the show’s characters without being overwhelming. “I think it’s incredible that Issa has been able to represent creatives who can do it all; write, produce and act. There [are] so many elements in which she participated that made her special. I feel like Insecure really represents creatives. ” said singer, songwriter and producer Leon Thomas III in an interview with Consequence.

Jay Ellis and Issa Rae.
Jay Ellis and Issa Rae. Photograph: Merie W. Wallace / HBO

Insecure has also helped bring a wide range of black talents to small screens across the United States, not only increasing the necessary representation of dark-skinned blacks on television (especially dark-skinned black women in romantic roles), but also providing a variety of actors and creatives deserved opportunities in the middle of Hollywood’s front door. Since its premiere in 2016, in addition to Rae, who landed a five-year, $ 40 million deal with HBO earlier this year, talents like Orji, Ellis, Natasha Rockwell (who plays Kelli on the show and recently starred in HBO’s The White Lotus), and others have appeared. Rae has taken advantage of Insecure’s momentum to tell more stories about young adults in South Los Angeles, including new shows like Sweet Life: Los Angeles. (“For me, my longevity will open the door for others” Rae said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter).

With season five of Insecure premiering this weekend, the final season has some big questions to answer for longtime viewers. Will Issa and Lawrence get back together? Are Asian Bae and Molly officially over? Where are Issa and Molly after their near friendship breakup from season four? Rae has already promised that it won’t be “Game of Thrones” at the end and that an Unsafe movie is more than unlikely unless it’s “wrong.” But, as always, Insecure will show black people, particularly black women, being our complete and complicated selves, embracing the fullness and clutter of real life against the elegant backdrop of South Los Angeles.


www.theguardian.com

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