Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Yvonne Orji
Yvonne Orji
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)
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With 10 episodes, this is Insecure’s longest season ever. This additional time has given us gifts like “Lowkey Happy,” but episodes like “Lowkey Trying” remind us how rushed this season still feels. Kerry Washington steps in as director and it’s clear she’s familiar with the show’s vision. Nothing feels amiss or out of place, which is good, because “Lowkey Trying” has to do a lot of heavy lifting to move the season forward. Last week’s episode felt like a dream, but it had very real consequences: Issa is all in on Lawrence again. The Lawrence/Issa montage that starts the episode is as sickly sweet as it is annoying. The couch, we get it. They’re cute, we get it. Lawrence likes it standing up, we get it. By the time Issa and Molly meet for brunch, we’re almost on Molly’s side again because Lawrence and Issa are just...so annoying.

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Lawrence and Issa are both plotting too quickly. Lawrence hasn’t even gotten an actual job offer and basically used one trip to San Francisco to manipulate Issa’s nostalgia. He doesn’t even know if he’s moving yet! He could still end up laid off and unemployed. Issa is already asking questions about the possibility of long distance relationships! They’re both ignoring the reality of their situations and it screams “Old Issa” and “Old Lawrence.” Even Issa’s jokes felt cornier with Lawrence. That “San Francisco treat” line would’ve made anyone roll their eyes.

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Lawrence and Issa’s relationship still feels like a dead end for both of them. There isn’t enough charisma in that montage to convince us that they should be making long term plans together. Lawrence says he officially ended things with Condola, but it’s hard to believe him. The season spent so much time building up Condola and Lawrence that it feels odd to have their relationship end so abruptly off screen. A popular fan theory has been a secret Condola pregnancy, but Insecure has never worked with that kind of drama. Condola was also very clear about not wanting kids yet, so I’m sure she takes precautions for that.

Still, I think fans want to believe in theories like Condola’s secret pregnancy or Tiffany’s possible season two affair because the dramatic stakes on Insecure are still relatively low. Sure, Molly and Issa are officially over, but nothing has fundamentally changed for either of them after the events of “Lowkey Trying.” They both just agree they shouldn’t be friends. Molly and Andrew are still struggling and it’s clear Andrew is getting tired of Molly’s many grudges. Issa is still unsure about her feelings for Nathan and Lawrence. Sadly, it also seems like she’d invite Lawrence to move in with her before she’d even consider those feelings. Next week is the season finale, but it’s unclear what conflict or consequences are driving us to the end.

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At this point, they’ve pretty much destroyed Molly’s character. Molly’s therapy sessions in earlier seasons allowed her to show some tenderness. This time, it just feels good to see someone finally call her out. Molly still demands an apology from Issa and can’t get over any of their issues. Even if you agree that Issa made a mistake, it’s also true that Molly made mistakes in their friendship, so maybe she could cut Issa some slack and move on. Dr. Rhonda makes it clear for Molly: if she wants to hold on to her anger, she can end the friendship. If she wants the friendship, she has to do the work.

But, just like Issa, Molly is also moving too fast. She doesn’t have time to wonder if her relationship with Issa is worth keeping because she’s too busy playing house with Andrew. You remember Andrew, right? You might not recognize Andrew anymore because he’s a totally different character now. Last season and even early this season, Andrew had no problem calling Molly out on her many issues. If Molly didn’t value their time together, he made that clear. If Molly was rude, he didn’t put up with it. Now Molly is standing up NBA games with his brother and he doesn’t push her on it? Molly and Andrew may seem great with their takeout meals and binge TV and hey-babe-yeah-babes, but they need to slow down and talk. Molly’s turquoise Cosby mom outfit is a great allusion. She’s playing dress-up.

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Molly and Issa are both rushing to become new versions of themselves, but neither one has really figured out what that means. They’re both distracted by the men in their lives. Kelli and Tiffany are nowhere to be seen which makes Molly and Issa feel more disconnected. During previous conflicts, their friend group forced issues to be addressed. With Tiffany presumably busy with her baby and Kelli off...doing her thing...Molly and Issa can’t get real about the problems they face. Yeah, it feels good to see them back together, but they both realize it feels shallow. They both already have empty romantic relationships to focus on, why take on the labor of faking a friendship too?

It’s good that Issa doesn’t beg Molly to fight for their friendship and simply cuts the cord. However, it feels unfair that everything blows up over Molly’s mistake. Molly talking about Issa behind her back with Issa in the room is pretty low. Why would Issa fight for a friendship with someone like that? Is Andrew going to be okay with this new drama too? It’s not the worst mistake someone can make, but it’s still rude. Molly has been rude enough this season. At this point she could lose everything in the finale and that would probably be good for her.

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Stray observations

  • So, they just want us to hate Molly now? It’s hard to defend her! I’ll give credit to Yvonne Orji, she’s doing a stellar job. Her outfits are amazing. She is doing an excellent job bringing Molly’s frustrations to life. Make sure to check out her new comedy special, Momma, I Made It. It’ll make you like her a lot more after what Molly did tonight.
  • The best parts of the episode were between Issa and Nathan. That’s when it felt like things were moving at a good pace. The show also definitively answered questions about Nathan’s disappearance. He found out he’s bipolar and had to get help. Personally, I’ve ghosted a life or two over mental health issues, so I get it. Issa seemed to get it too. He was also VERY direct about Lawrence and I like that energy. I am #TeamNathan.
  • Watching Molly wait for an apology was so painful.
  • I do not trust Lawrence. He is hiding something.
  • “That’s nice.” - Ahmal on Lawrence and Issa. I agree.
  • Kerry Washington did an amazing job. Throughout the episode, she frames Molly alone in conversation. She’s alone against Andrew, Issa, and her therapist. It’s hard to like Molly, but she was beautifully isolated in shots. If anyone can frame an unlikeable headstrong black woman, it’s Kerry Washington.
  • One episode left! I’m thankful for the longer season, but it’s not enough.
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Ashley Ray-Harris is a stand-up comic and writer.

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