Insecure’s first season featured very few growing pains. It did what first seasons are supposed to do: introduced the characters, their world and their motivations. While a few moments felt stagnant, by the end of the season, the show had successfully built a world viewers wanted to live in. Issa and Molly’s friendship feels real. Issa’s heartbreak and regret over Lawrence pushed the show to emotional depths that made Insecure undeniably more than a “black show.” None of this should come as a surprise. Issa Rae’s talent as a writer and performer were clear since her web series, Awkward Black Girl. If anything, the first season of Insecure allowed Rae to prove herself to a wider audience. In “Hella Great,” it feels like Rae and Insecure finally have the space to dig into the world they’ve created.

When we last saw Issa, she was secure in her friendship with Molly, despite her relationship falling apart. Lawrence was blowing out Tasha’s back and Molly was hitting pause on her dating life. Season two starts a few months after these events. Issa has finally decided that she wants Lawrence back. Lawrence is still blowing out Tasha’s back (I like to imagine there was no gap between their last scene together and the one we see in “Hella Great”). Molly is now in therapy and doesn’t seem obsessed about her next relationship or the men in her life.

While we pick up where we left off, there’s some refreshing growth. Issa’s desperate party plan to impress Lawrence points to some newfound maturity while still making it clear that Issa is incredibly misguided. Why would a party full of single dudes make your ex want to get back with you? Issa isn’t thinking things completely through, but this is at least better than showing up to his job unannounced. Molly is in therapy, but she’s reluctant to really open up (I hope we get to see her brothers this season). And Lawrence seems as though he’s ready to move on from Issa…at least until he and Issa close the episode out with some hot couch sex. The moment between them feels raw and passionate. The couch played an incredibly important role last season so it’s a fitting location for their reunion, but his quick exit doesn’t point to a true reconciliation.

“Hella Great” continues the first season’s success in exploring Molly and Issa’s professional lives. David Hull (the wonderful White Josh from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) makes a wonderful debut as Molly’s white male nemesis when she discovers that he’s paid more than her, despite the fact that they’ve been at the law firm for the same amount of time. Insecure tackled tough race issues in its first season and season two comes right out the gate dedicated to exploring real issues black women face in this country. We’ve moved beyond the ways Issa and Molly are ignored or disrespected in their careers to the deeper-rooted systemic oppression they both face. It’ll be interesting to see how this season balances this while focusing on Single Issa and bringing more characters into the narrative, but “Hella Great” doesn’t leave me worried about the show’s ability to do this successfully.

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In the space of one episode, “Hella Great” introduces more characters from Issa’s family and apartment complex, sets the stage for Molly’s next career hurdle and gets us excited for Single Issa and Lawrence. Molly has never felt like an accessory on the show, but Lawrence, Tiffany and Kelli suffered from a first season that lacked the space to fully explore their characters. Insecure could’ve remained focused on Molly and Issa’s friendship, but “Hella Great” represents a shift. The episode forces viewers to recognize the amazing ensemble that makes up the show. Nearly every line from Natasha Rothwell is pure gold this episode and her new status as a series regular can only mean amazing things for the rest of the season.

Stray Observations

  • It feels so good to have Insecure back! I’m excited to review this season, thanks for reading!
  • I hope Single Issa means we get a parade of incredibly attractive men every episode. I’m definitely Team #SingleIssa.
  • I truly believe Lawrence and Tasha never stopped fucking.
  • Really happy to see Get Out’s Lil Rel Howery make a brief appearance as one of Molly’s colleagues from the Chicago office. That “is the cold why it’s so violent?” question is painfully real.
  • Amanda Seales’ Tiffany hasn’t been given the same room to grow as Kelli. I hope we get to see more of her without her husband around. Seales plays the part perfectly.

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