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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled iInsecure/i perfectly captures the friendship breakup in a devastating episode
Photo: Merle L. Wallace (HBO)
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While last week’s premiere set the tone for the season, “Lowkey Distant” gets into the details. It was fairly easy to see who was in the wrong in “Lowkey Feelin’ Myself,” but the distance between Molly and Issa in episode two feels far more realistic in terms of who’s to blame. There isn’t one central moment or confrontation that hints at the split between Insecure’s central duo. Instead, it’s a series of misunderstandings and projections that result in the lowkey distance they both feel.

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Something has gotten in the way of Molly and Issa being able to talk to each other and the blame doesn’t entirely belong to one of them. Issa repeatedly dismisses Molly’s request to have a personal conversation by immediately accusing Molly of repeating her past mistakes rather than listening. On the other hand, Molly is shocked that Issa has managed to successfully organize an event without her. It’s also clear that Molly is threatened by Issa’s friendship with Condola; a concern that isn’t helped when Issa rudely insists Condola join their lunch plans. It’s just a mess and, like real friend break-ups, it’s both of their faults.

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“Lowkey Feelin’ Myself” left me worried that Insecure would spend the season throwing the blame between Issa and Molly to the delight of Twitter arguments. Luckily, that’s not the case. Instead, the show is giving viewers the full devastation of their breakup. The final shot of Yvonne Orji absolutely sells her heartbreak and the realization that Molly can’t talk to Issa the way she has in the past. Maybe Molly felt like Issa would say, “I told you so,” if she revealed Issa was right, she had blown things up with Andrew. Or, maybe she didn’t feel like Issa could relate to her more mature relationship issues as Issa lamented the loss of TSAbae and his thick dick.

Still, it’s a major break in communication between them that begins when Molly fails to tell Issa that she and Andrew slept together. While Kelli is in on the gossip, Molly failed to call the person she previously would’ve notified right away. The thing is, Issa isn’t wrong. Molly was blowing up her situation with Andrew. Intimacy takes time and Molly and Andrew haven’t even put a label on their relationship yet, so maybe relax if he isn’t ready to discuss his missing sister. Molly thinks she sees a problem and she tries to manufacture a solution. The thing is, you can’t manufacture intimacy in a relationship, just like you can’t manufacture trust between a coworker you previously wronged.

At the same time, Molly is right too! Andrew was holding back and Molly was right to bring it up. Old Molly wouldn’t have been straightforward with Andrew or her coworker, but New Molly can have these conversations without getting defensive. Eventually, Molly says what she needs to say to Andrew and Torian and gets the reassurance she needed. Andrew needs time to get close to her and she’s willing to give him that time. Torian needs her to be open and honest. Issa didn’t give Molly credit for handling these issues with a new approach. That’s too bad. Maybe if she had, Molly would’ve realized Issa is also ready for adult conversations and they have more in common than they realize!

But, Issa maintains distance too and doesn’t tell Molly about her conversations with Condola or Lawrence. Which is too bad, because Issa absolutely handled the situation like a pro! And so did Lawrence and Condola! Condola and Issa address the awkwardness between them head on and realize it doesn’t have to get in the way of their partnership. And why should it? Issa cheated on Lawrence and doesn’t seem to have any lingering feelings. Condola admits her relationship with Lawrence is really new and not worth losing a potential friendship over. Lawrence is right to be concerned about what Issa is saying and lays down some fair boundaries. I loved the way he completely dismissed her on the phone and said they could just hang up. If Lawrence is going to be on the show, I hope it’s in this capacity, where he and Issa can just make fun of each other and be friends rather than as a potential romantic interest.

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The ease of conversation between Condola and Issa is sad when compared to the new distance between Issa and Molly, but it makes sense. Condola and Issa are figuring out how to communicate with each other. Issa and Molly don’t see a reason to communicate anymore. They’ve known each other for so long, they think they know what the other will say. Issa assumes Molly will see anything she says as an attack and doesn’t take her relationship concerns seriously. Molly doesn’t want to see Issa as a mature adult who’s capable of offering mature advice. In “Lowkey Distant,” Insecure perfectly captures the messy pile-up of misconceptions, assumptions and projections that tear a friendship apart.

Stray observations

  • It would’ve been cool to see Molly and Kelli talk about her hookup with Andrew, rather than just hearing about it. Kelli had some great jokes this episode, but it seems like an obvious opportunity to give Kelli more dimensions. How do Kelli and Molly click in a way that Issa and Molly don’t?
  • I AGREE WITH LAWRENCE. Are you happy? He was right to lay down the law with Issa and he handled it in a mature way. I’m glad we got to see Chad! It seems like Lawrence wants to start things on the right foot with Condola and I hope this doesn’t blow up in his face.
  • Issa really has grown. New Issa knows she deserves better than...whatever she and TSAbae were doing. Still, he was a fun!
  • Tiffany is still pregnant. So pregnant. She gon’ have to learn.
  • The episode starts with Molly talking about “the baby not even being his,” which I thought might be a reference to the Tiffany/baby/cheating rumors fans hypothesized over, but it’s about Molly’s brother.
  • They should make a quarantine-cut of the show that doesn’t have sex in it. It’s simply not fair to those of us who are alone in quarantine to see Molly and Andrew so...engaged.
  • I wonder if Andrew’s missing sister has anything to do with Looking For LaToya.
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Ashley Ray-Harris is a stand-up comic and writer.

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