SPOILER ALERT: If you are not yet caught up on the show or have not started it yet, this post contains spoilers. Everyone else, please continue 🙂
Insecure has captivated me. The release of this show just further reminded me how absent authentic Black characters are from mainstream television. It is a breath of fresh air from all of the reality shows depicting petty drama, forcing us to watch 20 year old reruns of Martin just for a little comedy. Issa Rae only served us 8 episodes of Insecure so far (thankfully, we’re getting a season 2), but she managed to develop very complex and multi-dimensional characters in such a short season. 8 episodes, 30 minutes each, and I easily feel like I thoroughly know them all. Each of the main characters are relatable in some way, and most of us have been either Issa, Molly or Lawrence at some point in our lives. One of the main themes in the show is the relationship between Issa and Lawrence. The show begins and it is the morning of her 29th birthday. While she was on Facebook looking over her “happy birthday” posts, she gets a message from a guy named Daniel wishing her a happy birthday and her face lights up like a Christmas tree. I had not yet noticed Lawrence lying in bed behind her, sound asleep. Without knowing it, we are almost immediately introduced to the temptation she will face for almost the entire season. Her lack of fulfillment is obvious. She often complains to her best friend Molly about how boring their relationship is and how she is exhausted from carrying the emotional and financial weight of it all. Lawrence is out of work after his app failed, and mostly sits around the house in dingy sweatpants complaining about his bad luck with interviewing. To add to Issa’s growing resentment of him, he forgets her birthday. After 5 years and no growth as a couple, she was basically over it. If you want to create a perfect recipe to push your woman to the next D, do all of the things that Lawrence was doing. Unlike men, the majority of women who may have cheated did not do so just for sh*ts and giggles. There is no thrill of the chase, no sliding in DM’s just because its Monday. Emotional needs aren’t being met. Justifying cheating is not what I’m trying to do; I’m talking about causation, not morals. How well did Issa communicate her needs and concerns to Lawrence? Not very well. She had numerous opportunities to elaborate on what she told him the night she and Molly went to the open mic. You really can’t tell someone how you don’t intend to spend the rest of your life sitting on the couch with them, leave for 2 days then come home acting like that whole conversation never happened in a matter of hours. By this point, Issa’s main concern is Issa. She has vowed to begin giving zero f*cks and to start killing it at work. She did not have much concern for strengthening her relationship, but realizes she still loves Lawrence nonetheless, so she continues going through the motions of it all. After Issa and Daniel had their almost hookup after the open mic, I figured he was pretty much out of the picture. He was completely thrown off by the word “relationship” coming out of her mouth, so I thought that was a wrap. I should have known better, considering they chose to bring up how Issa has always had a weakness for him. Although Issa was vulnerable to cheating due to the fragile state of her relationship, I also do not fully believe she would have turned Daniel down, regardless of how things were with Lawrence. The one that got away is now back in your life and showing interest in you. You have shared history to pull from, allowing you to reconnect, and it would just feel right. She subconsciously placed herself in a compromising position, and the cheating commenced.
Issa wasn’t the only one in the relationship faced with temptation. While she was ignoring Lawrence and complaining about his lack of a job, the bank teller Tasha was uplifting him at every turn. Pretty face, bubbling personality and boobs to die for were there waiting for him every time he went to deposit his unemployment check. She joined him for lunch, and came to his job at Best Buy showing him how good she looks when she isn’t dressed in her work clothes. Tasha was putting herself out there with no shame. No matter when or where they were interacting, Lawrence never once acted inappropriately. It was more than obvious that Tasha had an interest in him, yet he politely told her he had a girlfriend. Major respect for Lawrence. Despite his flaws, he was 100% committed to Issa. He was too comfortable in their way of life to realize that the relationship was densely clouded with communication issues. He was genuinely taken aback when Issa essentially told him that he was boring and that their relationship was boring as well. She did not do him any favors by waiting until she was fed up to express any concerns. He never noticed anything to be wrong, but sometimes we cannot see past our own set of problems. Lawrence was feeling extremely discouraged after his app failed and continuously passed over for jobs after several interviews. He was watching his friends’ careers take off while he was living off unemployment checks and his dwindling savings account. As a man, his ego had taken several L’s. No one wants to fail. No man wants to put himself through college and amass all of this debt just to watch his woman take care of them both. His pride was clearly damaged when he had to go and work at Best Buy. While Issa congratulated him, Tasha from the bank acted as if he had just landed a job at NASA. Her support for Lawrence was unwavering and seemingly unconditional, so it made perfect sense that she would be the one he rebounded with after Issa crushed his soul. I was kind of curious as to when they exchanged numbers, because I would have thought that to be a very important interaction.
Was Lawrence Wrong?
Twitter has had a very interesting reaction to the finale of Insecure, and the men and women (not surprisingly) are taking opposite sides. The men are cheering Lawrence on as if this is their version of Lemonade, and many women think he took it too far. As a reminder, while Issa was out of town for Kelli’s birthday, Lawrence calls and tells her he misses her. He wants to talk when she gets back. Issa leaves right away, with Molly eventually deciding to drive her home. She walks in and sees Lawrence’s keys on the counter and you can see the hope spark in her eye. As she walks into the bedroom, it takes a moment for her to register what she is seeing. Lawrence’s pillow is gone and so are all of his items off the nightstand. She looks over to the closet and sees that all of his clothes are gone, except for his Best Buy t-shirt. Strong statement or nah? He essentially left Issa and the old him behind, the Best Buy shirt reminding her that the growth she so desperately wanted from him will not be something she gets to experience. This is my take on Lawrence’s Revenge: he was not wrong for sleeping with Tasha. He was a single man. While him luring Issa home under the premise of having a conversation seemed harsh, I get it. He was hurt, and he knew how much it would hurt her to come home only to have her hopes painfully dashed. It was behavior I did not expect from Lawrence, especially after hearing how unimpressed he seemed hearing about his friends’ profane exploits and thoughts on Black women. By using Tasha as a rebound, he personified the lifestyle his friends were bragging about. Rebounds never work out, and now he has used someone who is genuinely interested in him just to soothe his ego and enact his revenge on Issa. But you know what they say: “hurt people, hurt people.” Lawrence is a perfect example of that. What makes Insecure such a good show is the realness of it all. He did what any man would have done. When it comes to love, sex and infidelity, people rarely take the high road. The double standard men have with cheating is that it is fine as long as they are doing the cheating. If the roles are reversed and they are the one who was cheated on, rarely are men forgiving. They have very fragile egos, and most can’t take that kind of betrayal. What Issa’s tryst with Daniel also showed us is how vilified women are if they ever make a mistake and step out of their relationship. Most of us watch Ghost cheat on Tasha every Sunday on Power, yet he does not face the same backlash. I could name countless examples. Women who cheat often face the ultimate punishment and rarely have any sympathizers. We are faced to wear some type of Scarlet Letter for eternity. For example, the character Judith in Tyler Perry’s “Temptation” was bored in a stagnant relationship and Tyler Perry decided to suddenly turn a nice, sweet woman into a drug using, disrespectful monster who ended up with HIV. The film basically told us that the moral of the story is if you cheat on your husband, the consequences are dire, if not deadly. Unfortunately, double standards are a part of the world we live in, and if Issa ever gets Lawrence back, I doubt he will ever be able to fully forgive her. She hurt him, made him feel like an idiot, and he will probably make her pay for it every chance he gets. Looks like we’ll be waiting an entire year to see what happens next.