FYI: "Insecure" Confident Third Season Is Relatable Escapism
For all the epic high fantasy, nostalgic sci-fi and realistic horror that has made its way into our TV diets over the years, nothing will ever replace the classic American sitcom. There’s something comforting, homey even, about watching someone’s life play out in front of you every week, cheering with them at their achievements and rooting for them through their struggles. Insecure has been diversifying the group of people who can see their own lives reflected in this format ever since 2016, and its third season sees it balance its various tones and plot threads better than ever before.
For the unfamiliar, Insecure follows an awkward Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and her best friend Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) as they struggle with the hard realities of both self-improvement and self-care. While previous seasons focussed on the identity crisis’ and exhaustion inherent in code switching (having to change your entire vocabulary to be accepted within certain social settings) season three allows that to be an understood fact of life, fading into the background – just as it does in Issa and Molly’s lives – so other issues can come to the forefront. For Issa, that means wrestling with a lack of job satisfaction and financial insecurity, leaving her crashing on an old flame’s couch and driving for Lyft after work every day. Molly’s problems are the inverse: having just started a new job at an all-black law firm, she has never felt more professionally affirmed, but she’s haunted by the uncomfortable truth of her relationship, which involves a married man still very much in love with his wife.
The strange, in-between nature of their lives makes much of the third season feel aimless, but it is spookily relatable. Some beats are agonisingly recognizable, from stressing over work emails at Coachella to seeing your oldest friends settle down and have children. Even the filler between plot points seems to zero in on the small moments of a life not lived to its full potential: being too tired to argue for something you really believe in at work, falling asleep on the couch after vegging out to reruns for hours, mindlessly browsing job listings at the office or even dropping your favorite taco on the floor.
If that sounds kind of unexciting, then that’s because it is, but there’s a vibrancy to Insecure that ensures it’s always a pleasure to watch. For every dreary commute there is a moment of unexpected hilarity, and for every uncomfortable exchange with a colleague there’s a spark of pure joy to balance it out. At times, this focus on the bright side can seem just as trivial, or even so unlikely that it pushes your suspense of disbelief to the limit, but it also lends the show a lightness that is hard to come by in current programming. Yeah, it might be hard to believe that two new friends in their thirties would jump naked into a stranger’s pool, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch. Likewise, it might feel weird to see a backseat Lyft brawl or a chlamydia diagnoses treated with levity, but isn’t that how we deal with problems in our real life? Insecure finds the comedy in both the tragic and the absurd, and in doing so better equips us for it when we turn the TV off.
Not to mention, the show is so stunning that its contents at times feels almost immaterial. Whether we’re being walked through glitzy music festivals, smoky underground clubs or sun-soaked streets, the camera always feels enamored with LA and determined that we share in its enthusiasm. Nothing is presented as slick or perfect or airbrushed, but the way the shot lingers on faded paint and mismatched fabric makes even the broken-down apartments and derelict takeaways seem romantic and aspirational. Similarly, many episodes are worth watching for the outfits alone, with the two ends of the spectrum - Molly’s meticulous executive chic and Issa’s effortless hipster flair – capable of producing serious wardrobe envy. Like a Queer Eye for inner-city career women, both Insecure’s plotlines and aesthetic are guaranteed to make you want to refresh your wardrobe, apartment and priorities.
All of this orbits around a handful of on-again-off-again romances that even at their most smooth seem to cause the two friends untold anguish. Going on dates with new people is hard, working things out with the people they have history with is harder, and the inability to control the priorities of the people they shouldn’t like but do is a constant issue. It doesn’t help that every potential love interest the show gives us is fraught with as many flaws as the protagonists, but it does give the whole thing an air of realism that most sitcoms struggle with. It also doesn’t help that every actor in the show is undeniably dreamy, which makes it hard to know who to root for even from an audience standpoint. That does make it extra fun to watch in a Gilmore Girls kind of way, though, since it’s hard not to pick a favorite and root for that particular relationship to be the one to work out.
In short, Insecure is a heightened version of reality that makes the perfect companion to real life. Whether it’s providing the catharsis of reliving an awkward moment you’ve definitely dealt with before, or showing you exactly what not to do if it’s a situation you’ve never come up against, it’s essential viewing for any young professional struggling to find their feet. Like that messy friend who gives terrible advice but has a heart of gold, it will always be there for you to go to no matter how things are going in your own life.