‘INSECURE’ SEASON 3 NORMALIZES BLACK FAILURE AND MEDIOCRITY
Let Black people be mediocre in peace.
In the new wave of stories about black excellence, ‘Insecure’ helps audiences to realize it’s OK to not have everything figured out. The second episode of the HBO hit series was slow like the first of this season, but it’s giving direction to the story line.
So far we’ve learned that Daniel’s career isn’t as established and amazing like he presents and he is floundering just a little less than Issa. We’ve also learned the extend to which Issa is failing.
The Insecure story hasn’t wavered too far from its origins. It’s stayed true to the coming of age story from Awkward Black Girl (ABG), a 2011 comedy web series also created by Issa Rae. Like ABG, Insecure has been trailblazing in its illustration of the mundane life of regular young black adults as they endeavor to succeed. It’s a narrative that is often masked by the popular depiction of black individuals as criminals, emotionally unstable or the countless personalities on TV all amounting to comedic relief.
This show however, enables audiences to see black people as nuanced and varied through depictions of strong black women who are excelling and leading in their field such as Molly and yet enables viewers to understand that there are some who facing failures and trails and just trying to survive. It encourages black people to be seen as vulnerable, mediocre and ultimately human.
In this episode, the theme of failure and vulnerability are central to the narratives of both Issa and Daniel. The episode starts off with insight into Issa’s rut and we begin to understand why she said she felt that her voice was being stifled in the first episode.
It’s revealed that she has a 425 credit score ( a good score is typically 700 and up) and she’s reminded yet again that she needs to be grateful for Daniels help and tread lightly.
At work, things are much of the same. She needs to speak up for what she wants because her outreach organization might stand to lose significant donors. The problem is, the “We got y’all” branding is poorly received by members of the black community and it has a racist undertone, but when everyone is asked their opinion, Issa is unable and unwilling to stand her ground.
“Really? I have to speak up about every issue? Do you know how awkward it is,?” she asks. “Hi I’m Issa and I’m black and angry,” she says in a deep exaggerated tone.
“What’s the problem?” asks her colleague Ken, “I represent the gays and you represent the black people. “
“Yeah well I don’t want to be the voice of all black people,” Issa interrupts. “Well it is what it is,” he says, as it dawn on Issa that she has to do more. It’s a catalyst for her to gain gumption and become more proactive throughout the episode. She even tries to pitch her ideas to her boss but she’s shutdown yet again.
Still, in her personal life, although the sexual tension between her and Daniel is almost tangible, she asserts herself as his friend and support system. She uses her awkwardness and humble personality to her benefit and gets them both into a club so that he can make a connection with an upcoming artist for a potential producing opportunity.
It’s becoming clear that though Issa really is insecure, so is Daniel. She had to give him a pep talk to talk to the artist and in the end, he failed to make a business connection on his own. Later, she also encourages him to seek a connection with an old classmate that’s actually making it as a producer.
This lost portrayal of both Issa and Daniel in this episode makes them more relatable and reminds viewers that its normal to go through periods of continued failure. It’s also a simultaneous lesson about humbling yourself and asking for help when needed.
Insecure does well in connecting people to stories that are reflective of ordinary real life situations, presenting the sexy with the regular moments in life, like trying to find passion and direction in a career path. It forces audiences to self reflect and to try to empathize with the issues the characters are facing.
You may not be where Issa is in her life financially, but you may now have a better understanding of life as a 20-something person trying to make it. From this episode specifically, you also get the permission you needed to ask for help.
The show lives up to its name and branding. Through Daniel, we learn that the members of our community who we assume to have all their stuff figured out, may also be struggling and it’s OK.
With insight into the depths of these characters, the next episode should deliver a punch that helps to finally answer some questions about whether Issa and Daniel will do something about their sexual tension and also, if Issa will get a new job.
It’s important to notes that they’ve built a safe space and found support within each other. Have you noticed that Issa doesn’t rap her feeling anymore? It seems that when she feels more stable and comfortable in an environment, she doesn’t rap. What does that say about her stay with Daniel or about her growth?
We thought Daniel was the boss and that between Issa and Laurence, she was much more put together and succeeding at adulting, but we were very wrong. What other truths and realities will be revealed in the next episode?