Sunday, November 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Insecure' - Issa Succeeds at Work While Pushing Molly and Lawrence Further Away in 'Real as F**k'

HBO's Insecure - Episode 1.07 "Real as F**k"

As Issa prepares for an important work fundraiser, her plan to keep focused gets derailed. Lawrence considers a career opportunity. Molly runs into an old friend with a new outlook.

Issa's relationships with Molly and Lawrence have been so important for the entire season. They are the two most important and special people in her life. She relies on both of them. She is happy when she is with them. She needs them in her life. She may not always be completely honest with both of them. But most of the time, she is able to confide in one if not the other. They are relationships defined by spending so much time together. She has invested in both of them. She has doubted her relationship with Lawrence at times this season. She's wanted to see what else is out there that may be better for her. She has struggled with her recent choices. There's reason for her to feel guilty and insecure in her relationships. But she has found new peace heading into "Real as F**k." She believes everything is finally going well for her. Molly is supportive, things are strong with Lawrence and she is finally succeeding at work. After all of her hard work, things are absolutely fantastic in her life. And yet, everything seems to fall apart for her at this fundraiser. Nothing happens that puts her job in jeopardy. But Issa ends this hour more alone and defeated than ever before. Both Molly and Lawrence walk away from her out of anger. Issa does things that ruins both of these relationships and there's no clear indication of things ever being able to go back to the way they were.

All of this is particularly surprising and incredibly emotional when it comes to Issa and Molly's friendship. In the past, they have been brutally honest with each other. They have been best friends who know each other so well. They know what the other needs in any given situation. Yes at times, Issa has taken advantage of Molly and vice versa. They haven't always been honest with their true feelings. And yet, they do have a close bond that is welcoming and familiar. They trust each other completely. They can call each other out on their shit when the situation calls for it. It was just a week ago when Issa was telling Molly she was acting crazy after learning Jared got his dick sucked by a guy. This entire season has been about Molly's struggles with relationships. It was amusing and harmless in the beginning when Issa was just rapping about broken pussy. It was a joke meant to laugh at the situation. Despite that, they were still close friends and had each other's backs. But now, things have changed. Molly runs into an old friend on the street who talks up the benefits of therapy. It's a really forced way to introduce this story into the narrative. But it's an important part of the later fight between Molly and Issa.

So much has happened this season for both Issa and Molly. They've faced triumphs and insecurities. They've succeeded at work while also being so self-conscious about their love lives. They've been concerned and guilty about their past actions affecting their futures. Therapy isn't an inherently bad idea for either one of them. It could be beneficial for them to talk about their problems to someone who has the expertise to help them through it. Their friendship has been great so far. They've been able to handle everything they've faced because of their support for one another. But here, Issa says Molly needs therapy because she is so self-destructive in her relationships. The evidence is plentiful. Molly is the common factor in all of her failed dynamics this season. She has high standards and ideals for what love is. She wants it in her life. She wants to be happy and in love like all of her friends are. She doesn't know what her problem is. Issa knows and tells Molly. She always finds something wrong and ultimately pushes the other person away. And yet, that's simply not something Molly wants to her. It's a massive betrayal to her that Issa would even say something like that. It's an interesting dynamic because the audience more than likely sides with Issa in this debate. We've seen Molly in relationships just as much as Issa has. But it's still so devastating and understandable when Molly blows up at Issa for telling her to go to therapy. It's an escalation of tension that could break them apart for good.

The same can also be said of things between Issa and Lawrence. With them, it's the thing not said. Issa had sex with Daniel. She kept that bottled up inside. She only told Molly about what she did. Molly used that against her during their epic fight here. But that's not the reason why Lawrence ultimately learns about Issa cheating on him. In fact, things seem better than they have ever been between them. Lawrence is finally catching his break. He did well in an interview and has a new job at a tech startup. It comes with so many benefits as well. Despite this, he still believes he can give it all up and work on his app again. He has renewed excitement because he has already put so much work into it. Issa is able to help him focus on the job that will actually mean something for them. It doesn't mean she's no longer supporting his dream. She's just being more realistic and making sure he doesn't pass on a great opportunity. He needs this job on his resume much more than he needs Best Buy. It's because of Issa that Lawrence is able to see things more clearly. She provides that for him. She is able to do that without it compromising herself or adding to her own worries. Plus, he is still able to be supportive of her as she makes her fundraiser go as smoothly as possible.

And yet, all it takes is Daniel showing up for things to go spiraling out of control once more for Issa. She was feeling so guilty about what she did last week. She could barely function because of it. And now, she's much better with it because of the passage of time. It's been a few weeks since it happened and she hasn't talked with Daniel since. But seeing him again forces all of these issues to the surface. This time Lawrence gets caught in the middle. It's not a cliche story about someone learning the person they're dating cheated on them either. He figures it out simply by seeing Issa and Daniel fighting. He can't hear the words but he knows things are tense between them. His mind immediately goes to her cheating on him. It's not what he wants to hear from her. But it's the truth nevertheless. Issa can no longer keep it from him. She may be riding high from the success of the fundraiser. But she returns home to Lawrence furious at her and ready to walk out the door. She feared what his reaction would be to learning this upsetting news. He doesn't actually harm her but he does walk out. He is done with this relationship after learning about Issa cheating. He doesn't want to hear her side of the story. He just wants to know that it happened. That validates his decision to leave. It leaves Issa more devastated and alone than she has been in a long time.

Issa even started this episode determined to give all the fucks about the things most important in her life - Molly, Lawrence and her job. She has decided not to give any more attention to those pesky things that have been distracting her this season. She has accepted the happiness she has in her relationship and her job. But by the end of the episode, all she has is a job well done with the fundraiser. That's hardly good enough. She's all alone on the floor of her apartment with both Molly and Lawrence leaving her. This is the worst thing that could possibly be happening to her right now. She's committed to both of them and wants to build a future and life with them. But her past actions have finally caught up to her. She sees her doubts as not being worth it. But this episode proves that those thoughts can still be destructive to her life. She has felt the pressure to decide what she wants this season. And now, she has made her decisions but the people are no longer there for her to be with. It's a devastating conclusion despite the happy ending she gets at work.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Real as F**k" was written by Prentice Penny and directed by Kevin Bray.
  • Issa continues to seem like the one person at her job capable of actually hitting the fundraising goal. She puts in the work to make it a success while her co-workers are just along for the ride to be complacent. As much as Issa would like to yell at them, she still keeps her true thoughts to herself.
  • After her big fight with Issa, Molly once again runs to Jared. He really is the perfect guy for her. He's the person she runs to when her life is a mess. And yet, she really ruined things between them. She can't just go back hoping things will be better. Hopefully, this fight and a door being slammed in her face is a wake-up call for her.
  • It was important for Issa to have the kids come to the fundraiser to see what life is possible for them if they work hard enough. They all get up on the stage in order to show their appreciation. And yet, I was really worried that someone would yell out "broken pussy" and cause a scandal for Issa to deal with. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
  • Did Molly actually donate to the fundraiser? She showed up to help Issa get it all set up. She's a supportive friend who is able to give Issa whatever she needs. But the rest of their friends all made sure Issa knew they donated to the cause while Molly was in the background complaining.
  • Earlier this week, HBO renewed Insecure for a second season. That was such terrific news. This has been such a strong and distinctive first season. Next week is the season finale and the second season will include 10 episodes. So all in all, things are looking very good for this show - even though Issa's life seems in turmoil in this episode.