Ordinary People

So, as I was saying in my previous post, I finally finished watching the first season of Insecure, the HBO series starring Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji.

I don’t watch much telly and don’t keep up, so I had not heard of the show. I happened upon it when googling about Nigeria: one link led to another and I suddenly found myself watching a recording of a radio interview with Yvonne Orji.

Orji is my partner Don’s surname and in the interview the radio host remarks on how it sounds like Orgy, something I’ve always laughed about.

Anyway, I looked up Insecure immediately after that, started watching the series, and binged on Season 1’s final three episodes today.

OK, if you haven’t yet watched the series and intend to, there will probably be spoilers after the ‘read more’ tag.

The stars of HBO’s ‘Insecure’: [L to R] Issa Rae (Issa), Yvonne Orji (Molly) and Jay Ellis (Lawrence).
Just as I’m into Girls because I like that it has a lead that is not a tall, slim, leggy beauty, I’m into Insecure because it offers another perspective that is not the default in tellyland. This is a show with a predominantly black cast, and I admit that this is something that’s quite new to me. Like most English-speaking Malaysians, the films and TV shows I watch tend to be American and British, featuring mostly white actors. Insecure made me realise just how unfamiliar black culture is to me. They’re speaking English, but I find these characters more ‘foreign’ than I probably would those in a French film, even a period one! The largely RAP soundtrack doesn’t help either  – this is a genre I just can’t relate to and, frankly, deeply loathe (but that’s another story).

However, the music, the vernacular, the unfamiliar look of the show are mere distractions. Ultimately, what you have are Issa and Molly, two women struggling to get their shit together. Their stories are the sort that my ex-husband hates and I love: stories about ordinary people living ordinary lives. What’s there not to love? I just like that we are, everyone of us, linked by the same old crap and the same old crappy questions: Who will love me? Will I die alone? Do I matter? Why don’t I matter?

Whether it’s predictable (like when Issa finally scratches her itch with Daniel), or not (when Molly dumps Jared for having had one sexual encounter with a man, way back when), every plot development and character detail only serves to make Insecure more accessible and relateable. These are people like the people I know; these are decisions and mistakes like those I’ve made.

As for the black aspect of Insecure, no matter how bewildering it is at first, it’s ultimately a plus because, truly, do I need yet another white’s-eye view of life. Nope. No one does.

Often times, with black characters on TV or in films, they’re black, but that’s it. With Insecure, there’s at least an exploration of the sort of issues African Americans deal with. Or these African Americans anyway. (And of course I have to keep telling myself that they have nothing to do with Africans, in Africa, and more specifically, in Nigeria. That’s yet another story.)

The final three scenes of the season broke my heart. I’ve been there, felt the loneliness and betrayal and pain.I didn’t want that ending, but I can’t say it didn’t ring true. I guess Lawrence’s phone call gave me as much hope as it did Issa and so, I felt every bit of her disappointment and shock when the truth hit. Also, I didn’t have to see Lawrence and Tasha together. Not like that. Yet I couldn’t look away. I think that was deliberate. I think the viewer is meant to feel as gutted as Issa would be if she had walked in on Lawrence fucking Tasha. The scene underlines the fact that they are done and boy, does it hurt.

Let’s see where Season 2 takes the characters. I admit I’m hoping Lawrence and Issa get back together (just as I hope Hannah and Adam do in Girls – am I pathetic, or what?), and it worries me that I’ve chosen to focus on that aspect of Issa’s life. I mean, I was so annoyed when everyone in Sex and the City ended up in a relationship at the end of the series, and yet here I am, needing Issa to have a happily-ever-after ending. WTF.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just feeling needy what with Don being so far away and all, and it’s informing the way I’m reading and processing Insecure. As for Hannah and Adam (Girls), well, I have no excuse for romanticising that trainwreck!

Just like I considered re-watching Girls, from Season 1, Episode 1, and writing about each episode, I am thinking I should re-watch Insecure Season 1 and write a detailed reaction post to every episode. However, surely I should be spending time sorting out my move to Nigeria instead of sorting out my feelings about Issa’s and Molly’s lives.




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