Sunday, October 16, 2016

REVIEW: 'Insecure' - Issa Faces the Real Complications of Her Relationship and Job in 'Messy as F**k'

HBO's Insecure - Episode 1.02 "Messy as F**k"

After the unexpected events of the previous night, Issa tries to decide what to do about Lawrence, while sticking to her plan to embrace a bolder side of herself. Molly treats herself to a "fancy day" and goes on a promising date. Lawrence gets advice from an unexpected source.

In the premiere of Insecure, Issa was really struggling with her current life and if it was what she truly wanted to be doing. She broke out of her familiar life for a little bit and embraced new challenges. It was exciting. But is that excitement what she ultimately wants? Stability may not be as sexy or fun as it once was. But it can still be rewarding and beneficial. Issa and Molly both want a relationship that encompasses everything they want. Issa is already in one but she's struggling with Lawrence's lack of ambition. She is frustrated with what her life is right now even though she seemingly has everything figured out. Just because it's a life she's had for awhile doesn't mean it's smooth sailing though. "Messy as F**k" highlights how her relationship with Lawrence and her job at the non-profit can still be so complicated. These life choices of hers may not be what she was completely expecting out of life. But that doesn't mean they are bad. They are just different and could still ultimately give her everything she wants.

Issa left Lawrence because she was allured by the appeal of something better being out there. How does she know she wouldn't like something else? She may enjoy a life of kinky sex. She may like breaking free of the norms she has lived by for so much of her life. She doesn't know until she tries. And yet, does she even want to try? Her relationship with Lawrence was strong. She caused tension with all of these uncertain feelings. He believes she's upset with him because he didn't do anything big for her birthday. He goes to Rite-Aid and gets a bunch of birthday supplies to make it up to her when she comes home. But there is no guarantee that she'll ever come home. Issa hasn't figured that out yet. She loves Lawrence but she's scared of what a life with him will be like. Will it be any better or different than it is now? And is their current life really all that bad? Issa had so much fun getting up on stage and rapping about Molly's broken pussy. It was an exciting moment. So now, is that a new career option for her? She is very confident when it comes to rapping to herself in the bathroom mirror. Those scenes help her make sense of her world. But is this something she actually wants to pursue in life?

Right now, Molly is the only thing Issa is really sure about. She's comfortable living in Molly's apartment for a few days. There is no real pressure to figure her life out when she's around her friend. Of course, she knows she needs to make a decision about her future. She didn't have sex with Daniel last week. She instead chose to be with her best friend when she needed it the most. She chose not to disrupt her life in a big way like that. She still has the potential to return to her life with Lawrence with no problems whatsoever. Of course, Lawrence has to want that as well. "Messy as F**k" also fleshes out his life a little bit more. It's defined largely by his group of friends being too far away and distracted to help him during this turbulent time. He instead gets advice from his neighbor with a kid who isn't afraid to be very blunt about the situation. Things have gotten stale and Issa is questioning if there is anything better out there. It doesn't lead to a huge change in Lawrence. But it's still clear that he is willing to welcome Issa back home and continue their lives together. Issa wants that too because she does love him. It just takes building up the courage and confidence to actually return home.

Elsewhere, it's truly fascinating watching Issa at work as the only person of color at this non-profit. She understands the plight of the people this organization is trying to help. No, she didn't grow up in the hood. She didn't suffer during her upbringing - at least not in the same way that Molly did. She didn't have to overcome adversities to make something of her life. But that doesn't mean she can just wing it and hope it will all work out in the end for her. Her colleagues definitely respect her opinion a lot as the only black women in the room. That gives her a newfound confidence. It also gives her some false hope. She thinks she doesn't have to work out her pitch before heading into the room with her plan for the school. She tries thinking outside of the box. She doesn't want to do the same cliche thing that organizations like this always do. She wants to inspire these kids in a different way. She doesn't want sports to be their only hope of getting out of troubled situations. She wants to explore different avenues. And yet, her pitch for such radical change isn't exciting. She doesn't have any solid ideas and how best to implement them. It's easier for the team to pitch the ideas that always work out. They think they can just take these kids to the museums that embrace their cultures and the plight of the generations before them. It's inspiring to the room but it's cliche and formulaic for Issa. Her solution isn't any better though.

Issa can't just focus on big and bold ideas. She brings great energy to this project. But she still has to put in the work to make it a reality. She can't just coast by hoping everything will work out in the end. Her boss notices when she's not fully committed to the work. She gets a very blunt talk about her not being as engaged as she used to be. Even though Issa has the respect of her colleagues, that doesn't mean she can just stop working. She needs to put just as much effort into this work as everyone else. She needs to find a way to be different while also making it financially responsible for everyone involved. That's the biggest problem she encounters. She wants to take the kids on these big trips to open their minds. She wants to share new experiences with them. That isn't always the best solution though. These are big ideas for her. But for the people she's trying to help, a day at the beach could be just as life-changing. Molly didn't go to a beach until college. To Issa and Frieda, that's so sad. And yet, it gives them the inspiration and the game plan to actually make their project a success. It's a solid first step for them. Issa still needs to find the perfect balance. She still needs to work hard to make this life a success for her.

Elsewhere, Molly is continuing to struggle with her romantic prospects and ambitions. She is being conditioned through her workplace to prioritize romance over work. She's great when it comes to finding inventive ways to help the clients. And yet, all that anyone seems to care about is her co-worker's engagement. Even the bosses want to know how she's coping with all the new pressure and the stress that will come from planning a wedding. Molly is killing it at work but that doesn't seem to be important at all. She wants a relationship. She wants to be happy in that way as well. But the rest of the world doesn't seem to be reciprocating her feelings. No matter where she looks, it always leads to hook ups and not actual relationships. That's the problem with dating in 2016. The apps out there aren't really geared to anything long term. Molly meets interesting prospects that could lead to something better in the future. But it still just goes back to being about sex. Molly is able to make herself feel good by refreshing everything on her body. And yet, that's not enough to get what she truly wants. It's a frustrating journey because it seems like no matter what she does it doesn't lead to anything substantially better. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Messy as F**k" was written by Issa Rae and directed by Cecile Emeke.
  • The reveal that the blunt thing Issa said to the people around her was actually just inside her head has been very effectively used so far. An over-reliance on it though could become very problematic in the future.
  • Molly runs into the guy from the club again. She's just walking down the street eating some food and not really prepared to talk with anyone. And yet, she bumps into him and some sparks may still be there that could be worth pursuing.
  • It's great that Lawrence doesn't realize that his relationship with Issa may be over until he spots her buying a six-pack of panties at Rite-Aid. It's in that moment when it truly dawns on him that she may be serious with this fight.
  • The big fight between Issa and Lawrence largely just happens inside her head. She plays out both sides of the argument in the bathroom. It's a fantastic scene. It helps her cope with the need to go home again. Plus, she and Lawrence don't ultimately fight when she returns.
  • Issa looks great walking into the office wearing one of Molly's outfits. It's even funnier when Frieda latches onto the fact that they are both wearing blazers. Frieda remains such an offbeat character. She's funny but hasn't gotten too much depth yet.
  • Issa is very aware of her surroundings and doesn't want to be a stereotype in any regard. She doesn't want to be the black couple fighting in Rite-Aid nor does she want to use sports to motivate the youth at the school. And yet, both are still important aspects of her life.