Issa Rae and The Incredible Impact of ‘Insecure’

For those who aren’t already aware, actress/comedian/writer/producer/all-around very well-respected black woman Issa Rae has announced that her HBO show, Insecure, will premiere its fifth and final season at the end of this year. Of course, this announcement was met with awe and shock from Insecure’s many fans, who would enthusiastically tune in every Sunday to watch the latest episode. Still, Rae preached her gratitude for the support of watchers all around the world in one of her tweets last month.

This isn’t the first time Issa Rae has spotlighted her take on social awkwardness. In 2011, Rae began self-producing a Youtube web series entitled “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” aka Awkward Black Girl. Rae said she was inspired to create this series after working at the Federal Theatre in New York City. The storyline follows the daily happenings of Rae’s character, J, as she interacts with her friends, family, and coworkers. It became so popular through social media that the second season was aired on Pharrell’s “I Am OTHER” digital platform from 2012 to 2013. What made this so unique and personal is that it’s told through the first-person narrative. J reveals how she feels about what’s going on in her life through a voice-over or a dream sequence. Rae also recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Awkward Black Girl on Instagram:

As for Insecure, think of it as a more expansive version of Awkward Black Girl. The HBO show’s premise in and of itself is very similar and not only culturally relevant for black women but also extremely necessary for other demographics of audiences to view: A young black woman navigating life, love, and loss with her long-distance boyfriend, Lawrence, portrayed by the excellent Jay Ellis and her best friend from college, Molly, performed by the equally excellent Yvonne Orji. 

Without spoiling TOO much of what goes on for those who haven’t seen the show (Get to it!), the relationship between Lawerence and Issa is…well…complicated, as most relationships are. Both characters are going through something at the beginning of the series. Lawrence’s start-up fell through, and Issa is continuously trying to prove herself at her less-than-perfect job as a non-profit worker. Since they both encounter issues within their own life and the distance, this causes some tension. At first, it may seem like rejuvenating their relationship is impossible. Some moments make you go, “Yeah, I’ve been through that before.” Now, Molly’s had her fair share of relationship highs and lows (more on that here). She’s the perfect (or imperfect) company for Issa’s character and an accomplished corporate lawyer. Molly proved to be anything but one-dimensional. Black women being portrayed as one-dimensional personalities in television and film is a topic that has been commented on in recent years. The work put in to positively and truthfully showcase a black woman in power did not go unnoticed. Rae created a character that was the antithesis of how the media often depict career-driven women as strict perfectionists with no initiative to try and fix their problems, when, in reality, that just isn’t the case. Everyone has their fair share of troubles, whether that’s in the workplace or out of it.

Insecure brought many laughs, a lot of tears, and a lot of thoughts for people everywhere. It brought out a lot of fan interactions on social media. Fans would live tweet with the #InsecureHBO when a new episode would drop. With all the buzz online, This, in turn, made HBO come up with the idea to host annual block parties in 2016 for upcoming seasons. This year was virtual due to the pandemic, but the renowned show’s flavor was present throughout all the virtual activities.

Insecure helped spark social discourse within the black community and other communities who were interested in hearing and seeing from the black female perspective and paved the way for future black creatives to share their own stories and experiences for a variety of audiences to resonate with.

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