It was only a matter of time before Lawrence found out about Daniel and Insecure nails the reveal in “Real As Fuck.” The episode bridges Issa’s relationships with her job, coworkers, Daniel, Lawrence and Molly while highlighting the successes and failures of each with a realistic and urgent tone. At the beginning of the episode, Issa declares she’s no longer “Ms. Gives No Fucks,” but is now “Ms. Gives All The Fucks.” The declaration seems true as she takes charge at work, tries to support Lawrence before his interview and finally comes to terms with what really led to her affair with Daniel. When the truth of her betrayal comes out in the episode’s final scene, Issa Rae and Jay Ellis beautifully sell the pain of the moment.
While it’s not nearly as bad as the violent freakout Issa envisioned last week, Lawrence does flip a table and immediately storms out. Even with Issa blocking the door, it’s clear that Lawrence isn’t likely to forgive her for this or hear her out. Like Molly says, Issa cheated on Lawrence while he was trying to ”get his shit together” for her. Throughout the season, Issa hasn’t been particularly upfront about her issues with Lawrence. In the pilot, she vaguely suggests it’s because he isn’t motivated before vaguely breaking up with him. Lawrence almost seems equally betrayed by how off course their relationship apparently was without his knowledge. He thought they were in this and valued his relationship with Issa so much he worked at a Best Buy and put his app on hold to take a dream job that Issa wanted for him more than he did.
While Issa’s relationship lethargy and interest in Daniel seemed legitimate in early episodes, her heartbreaking conversation with Daniel confirms the season’s underlying suspicion––Daniel was just an itch she had to scratch. He wasn’t really her “what if” guy, he was just a way for her to live some faux-gives-no-fucks persona that she recognizes was a mistake. Issa is imperfect and she recognizes that she really did make a mistake, but it was a mistake that could’ve been avoided if she had just talked to Lawrence about her concerns. I don’t believe Issa and Lawrence would’ve lived happily ever after even if he hadn’t found out about Daniel, which only makes the way their relationship inevitably ends even more painful.
It’s great that Issa’s relationship failures are contrasted with her apparent new passion at work. Issa takes charge of We Got Y’all’s fundraising event and isn’t sitting on the sidelines as she did with Beach Day. She openly asks her coworkers not to question her authority while handing out orders. Yet even when the kids make sure to give Issa the credit she deserves, she doesn’t seem entirely convinced that the work was worth it. Of course, she just had a fight with Molly, but she doesn’t seem to take joy in her coworkers’ jealous stares or the recognition she receives from her boss. She still doesn’t know where she sees herself in a year, except in the same position. It doesn’t seem as though the event has been a catalyst for Issa to plan her career out.
I like that “Real As Fuck” doesn’t try to excuse any of Issa’s imperfections or failures; it simply puts them on display in a way that’s relatable and makes Issa a wonderfully unreliable narrator. Was Daniel really just an itch she had to scratch or is she just telling herself that now? Are Issa’s complaints about Molly really based in genuine concern or is she just lashing out? Insecure is great at unveiling its characters motivations just as the characters seem to figure it out themselves.
This is particularly true with Molly, whose story this week completely makes up for last week’s rushed exit of Jared. I was disappointed in that episode because it didn’t seem like a fair send-off for a character who’s been around since the pilot. It felt like having Molly end the relationship off-screen for incredibly problematic reasons didn’t treat Jared with the concern it deserved. It also didn’t seem as though the show was seeing Molly’s biphobia as an actual problem and thought it was no different than her breaking up with a guy for being too needy or distant. “Real As Fuck” corrects this as Issa completely calls Molly out for being the actual problem in her failed relationships and making it clear that she needs to get help. Molly can’t be pleased and if it hadn’t been Jared’s sexual fluidity, it would’ve been something else that ended their relationship. Molly seems to finally realize she is the problem, but not before heading back over to Jared’s house to put him through more of her bullshit. I’ve never been so happy to see a door closed in someone’s face.
The fact that Molly thinks she could show up at Jared’s with an insulting non-apology to get him back does hint at a larger issue. Molly seems completely unaware of her own imperfections and therapy would help with this. It’s not surprising that Molly holds negative opinions about therapy; access to mental healthcare isn’t common in black communities and we rarely grow up with therapists as a commonality. Molly thinks it’s oversharing when her friend even mentions therapy, but it could help with the negativity and defensiveness on display this episode. Even though Molly’s friend never says she recommends therapy for everyone, Molly can’t help but see it as a personal attack. When Issa says maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea, it sends her spiraling for the rest of the night as she complains about smog, a lack of bartenders and unattractive men. Even when Justin, Issa’s hot coworker, offers to get her a drink, she coldly pushes him away.
Molly and Issa have been blocking their blessings all season, but “Real As Fuck” makes it clear that there’s more on the line for both of them than we thought. Molly isn’t just an unlucky-in-love single girl; she’s internalized some harmful relationship ideals that leave her constantly unfulfilled and alone. Issa isn’t just an insecure, imperfect fuck-up; she wants to “give all the fucks,” support her man and care about her career. It’ll be interesting to see how these two handle their realizations without the other’s support, but it should make for an amazing finale.
- “I had all these unrealistic expectations about relationships and when it came to us, I should’ve just lowered my standards” MOLLY, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? Just let that beautiful man rest; he’s tired.
- Loved Issa’s second freak out on her coworkers over gentrifying the neighborhood.
- “This drawer is just extra batteries!”
- “Jackie Chan is too thirsty. ‘Or do you object?’ Way to make it weird, bro.” It’s a testament to Yvonne Orji’s talent that I don’t constantly want to strangle Molly.
- “Don’t cash that shit til’ next month. I’mma be homeless. Seriously.” Natasha Rothwell has been killing all of her bits this season and it’s great that she’ll be a series regular when the show returns!
- “Patricia, you know where they go.”
”Don’t question my authority, thanks!”
I wish we could’ve seen more of this take-charge-at-work Issa in the episodes leading to this, but I’m happy with these developments.
- “This bitch lookin’ like a black Ariel.”
- I don’t see Lawrence taking Issa back. He’s had his suspicions confirmed and knows there are more supportive options (Tasha) out there.
- This week’s playlist: