How HBO’s ‘Insecure’ Has Got the Modern Black Experience Nailed On

Oct 4 2017 BY Gerald Onyango

In a time where television networks like Netflix and FX are giving talent their own TV shows like Donald Glover with Atlanta and Aziz Ansari with Master of None, Issa Rae is next up to continue the fold with Insecure. The LA-native actress and producer made her claim to fame following her lauded web-series Awkward Black Girl and now is directing and is the lead star of her own comedy-drama; Insecure.

 

I only just recently started watching the show and can’t help but have a serious affinity to the show’s themes and experiences. For those who are yet to watch Insecure, the series explores the unique black female experience from the perspective of two Protagonists Issa and Molly. Coincidentally, it is this reason why I didn’t warm to the series as I struggled to identify with the female aspect of the black experience. Nonetheless, the writing and humour of the series kept me engaged but it was the emergence of male characters particularly, Lawrence, where myself and many of male friends could relate to.

 

 

His experiences of entrepreneurship, his relaxed approach to life and albeit being a young black male professional and the trials and tribulations that come with that were things myself and the guys could identify with. Similarly the fact he – and all the characters might I add – are just regular black people; in that they’re in the middle of spectrum neither poor/criminals or successful athletes/entertainers; they’re just normal educated 20/30-somethings who are finding their way through life. Plus, in particular, with Lawrence, his regularness was something that many black males could immediately relate to where he’s neither a ladies man nor is he incapable of getting women. It’s often portrayed in televisions that black men are womanisers whose lives are fixed around sleeping with a copious amount of women. But that isn’t to say Lawrence isn’t fallible and this best seen when Tasha said “you’re a fuck n*gga, who thinks he’s a good due” a line I imagine many guys in their 20s can relate to. And that’s the beauty of Insecure it really captures us regular folk so well.

 

To take this further the show’s general themes of the office experience for black professionals is spot on. Insecure has perfectly captured the many micro-aggressions that black people experience in the work-place. From the assimilation that many black professionals reluctantly do to ensure easy workflow among their white counterparts to the lack of understanding that white colleagues have of black culture that ultimately leads to many black professionals feeling alienated in the office. From Issa’s experience of her white colleagues awkwardly using African-American colloquialisms to Molly’s constant lack of value by her colleagues due to her not only being black but a woman in a corporate firm.

 

Similarly the general identity crisis many black 20-somethings in this generation experience. Such as code-switching between white and black peers and colleagues or being too educated among black friends who may not have gone into further education. Like to for example when Molly was tasked by her manager to speak to a new confident black colleague (Rasheeda) who chooses not to code-switch and firmly uses African-American phrases. It was Molly’s task to ask Rasheeda to code-switch as her general blackness was too overwhelming for her white colleagues. And while the situation was comical it bore a lot of truth on the many micro and macro situations that black professionals have to endure in the office.

 

This isn’t to say that Insecure is a series that only black people can enjoy as Issa and the entire writing team do a great job in holding a mirror that reflects the modern black experience for all varying people to enjoy. And to take this further it’s both a positive and negative to know these experiences are shared among black people across western countries as a whole, as then you’re aware you and your peers are not facing these experiences alone and that we are dealing with them in our own unique ways. Cannot wait for season 3.