As a Black woman in my twenties, it is not hard to notice that there are not many television series that include actresses who look like me. Even when there is representation, I feel like there is a disconnect between the depiction of Black women on television and my own lived experiences.
I know that I will never be like Olivia Pope from Scandal or Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder. Although I admire the courage and determination of these characters, their storylines are unrealistic, and they overlook the everyday experiences of myself and other young Black women in the present day.
Insecure contrasts with these inaccurate representations of the lives of average Black women on the small screen. The series follows Issa Dee and her best friend Molly — two Black women who are navigating their way through the ups and downs of modern-day adulthood in Los Angeles. Although both women face similar challenges with respect to their relationships and ‘situationships,’ their uncomfortable experiences in their predominantly white workplaces, and their search for emotional fulfillment, their lives are remarkably different.
The first season sees Issa struggling to get her life together. She is unhappy with her job and her five-year relationship, and she is torn between pursuing what she wants and continuing to do what is expected of her. In contrast, Molly, a confident and well-liked corporate lawyer, appears to be in control of her professional life. However, her unreasonably high standards and her preoccupation with settling down prevent her from maintaining her romantic relationships.
The nature of Issa and Molly’s friendship is a core part of Insecure. From the very first episode, the viewer is introduced to an authentic women friendship that thrives off the differences between these two characters. It is encouraging to see how the girls can both support and keep it real with one another despite the fact that they each desire something that the other has — notably, professional success and a serious relationship.
Their witty remarks to one another — along with the hilarious supporting cast — are an added bonus to the show, such as in this interaction:
Molly: “You gotta fuck a lot of frogs to get a good frog.”
Issa: “That’s not the saying. Or any saying.”
This depiction of a women friendship in which the characters can not only joke about their shortcomings, but also genuinely want what is best for one another, is currently not afforded to Black women on the small screen. Shows like Love and Hip Hop and the Real Housewives of Atlanta present a distorted picture of Black women friendships as being characterized by jealousy and competition.
Insecure is also unique because it reflects a stage in life that many university students can relate to. Oftentimes, it feels like we are expected to have our lives figured out by the time we graduate. The portrayal of Issa and her friends serves as a reminder that it is completely normal if we have no clue what we want to do in our lives and that small setbacks do not signal failure.