Sunday, November 27, 2016

REVIEW: 'Insecure' - Issa Tries to Make Up for Her Selfish and Destructive Actions in 'Broken as F**k'

HBO's Insecure - Episode 1.08 "Broken as F**k"

The lingering tension between Molly and Issa threatens to resurface during a girls' trip. Lawrence reconnects with his friends.

Insecure has had such a strong, confident and unique first season. It has offered a different perspective to a familiar story. It's been told in such a vibrant and exciting way. This season has done a solid job introducing who these characters are and how they don't really have anything figured out despite almost being 30. This has been a rocky season for Issa, Lawrence and Molly. They've had rousing successes but a couple of crushing defeats as well. It was so devastating last week when Issa's relationships with Lawrence and Molly were torn apart because of her own actions. She has to take responsibility for that. She has been so insecure and selfish about her life this season. She's needed to make these big, life-changing decisions. But by the time she confidently made her choices, her life had changed and those options were no longer a reality. It's a difficult time for her. Last week's episode ended with her all alone. So heading into the finale, it was unclear if things would remain that way or if she would find a way to fix everything and get back into the good graces with both Molly and Lawrence.

Issa wants her relationship with Lawrence. She wasn't certain if he was the guy for her for so much of the season. His lack of ambition almost pushed her away. She didn't know if she could commit to this life together for a long time. It's a pressure she put on herself. She felt like she needed to make that decision now. She wasn't ready to do it. That's the reason why there has been so much turmoil in her relationship this season. It's because of this pressure that she put into this dynamic. She actively made several choices that led to the demise of this bond. She was able to resist Daniel at first. But all it took was the right crisis to come forth for her to sleep with him. Lawrence proved himself to be a great guy for her. She knows how lucky she is to be with him. But she still slept with someone else and he found out about it. Now, she has to reckon with those choices and whether or not she should even be forgiven for them. She knows what she did was wrong. She can't blame Lawrence for his response to learning the truth. But she wants their relationship to work. She's ready to make that happen. She just doesn't know what to do with Lawrence because he clearly is not.

The same is also true of Issa's friendship with Molly. They have always been there for each other this season. Their bond is perhaps the most crucial of the entire series. Them being on the outs hurts because the audience knows how much they love and need each other in their lives. When Issa was going through this whole crisis with Daniel, Molly was there for her being supportive. She may not have agreed with the choices that Issa made but Molly stood by and helped her deal with them. Issa has been supportive of Molly as well. But all it took was for one comment to be taken the wrong way for their bond to fall apart. Molly doesn't see anything wrong with herself. All of her relationships fail because of the guys she is dating. She doesn't think she needs to change even though she desperately wants a man to stick around. Issa sees that Molly is frequently the problem. She calls her out on that. It's a dose of reality that Molly is not ready to accept. It's the truth. It's something she has to reckon with. Accepting Issa as her friend again means addressing her own failures with love. She has to be ready for that realization. She can't mend things with Issa until she does.

All of this makes things particularly awkward when Issa spends the weekend away with her girlfriends while Lawrence takes the time to surround himself with his bros. They are dual journeys that have very different endings. One ends with strong resolution and an even greater bond while the other only adds to the heartbreak and the pain that comes from not being completely honest. Issa has surrounded herself with these friends because they clicked in college. They have been lasting friendships because she genuinely cares about these people. And yet, they all feel stuck in their ways. They are no longer those college girls having fun playing with each other. They have grown up a little bit and have needed to change. Issa had stability with Molly and Lawrence. But now, that's gone. What does she have then? All she has is herself. That loneliness is apparent throughout this entire weekend. She grasps onto her phone ready for Lawrence to call. He has to come back to her. She can't force him to deal with their issues. He has to be willing to talk. Molly has to as well. Issa sits there in quiet judgment of Molly's life choices. She continues to act like a college party girl. It's Kelli's birthday weekend. She wants as much fun as possible with her girls. And yet, it's not exactly a fun weekend. It's a trip away filled with tension and truths that have been left unsaid.

And yet, Molly is still there for Issa when the time calls for it. When Lawrence finally does reach out, Molly is the one who steps up and decides to help Issa through this difficult time. She knows how important it is to Issa to keep this relationship alive no matter what. Issa feels she needs to return to the apartment as quickly as possible to talk with Lawrence. He called for a reason. She needs to take ahold of the situation even though it puts an abrupt end to the weekend out with the girls. Kelli and Tiffany don't want to put up with all of that but Molly is still supportive. She knows the full situation. She drives Issa home. It may create tension with Kelli and Tiffany but it's the right thing to do. Issa is trying to save her relationship. Molly doesn't want to stand in the way of that. Despite her anger towards Issa, she wants her to be happy. She wants Issa and Lawrence to work things out. She doesn't want to be the reason they don't. It's still an awkward car ride. But Molly breaks the tension by asking what Issa is planning on doing. Issa doesn't know. She just knows she can't loose Lawrence or Molly. That's a powerful emotion. She's running to be with Lawrence again but she knows she needs to fix things with Molly too. She apologizes for what she said. Molly accepts it because she knows she needs to do some soul-searching as well. Issa doesn't have the answers. All she can provide is the friendship as they go through these difficult times. Issa being there for Molly and vice versa will help both of them get through all of this.

It truly did feel like the season finale was heading to a big reconciliation between Issa and Lawrence as well. And yet, that's not what actually occurs. Issa was able to fix things with Molly by talking with her. That's what she needs to do with Lawrence too. But neither of them know what to say. Lawrence is out with his friends at a strip club. There he realizes just how different he is from all of them even though he still appreciates their friendship. He's going through a difficult breakup because Issa cheated on him. None of his guy friends think he should forgive her. But they also recognize that he is a different man than them. He is a nice guy who actually feels his emotions. That's what Issa loves about him. He reaches out because he seemingly can't pull away from her and let his anger out by paying for sex. It seems like they are both heading towards the apartment in order to talk things out and become stronger because of this experience. But that's not the case at all. Lawrence returns while Issa is away to collect all of his stuff. Issa is filled with hope when she walks through the door and sees his keys on the countertop. But then, she is left completely devastated after learning that everything of his is gone. He has packed up his life and left. He was able to resist temptation before. But now, he's more than capable of banging another girl. Issa pushed him away and he doesn't come back. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Issa is left on the couch outside the apartment all alone crying. Molly is there to support her. But it's quite the final image for the season. That couch meant so much in her relationship with Lawrence. And now, it's still on the curb picked apart just like the relationship seemingly is.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Broken as F**k" was written by Issa Rae and directed by Melina Matsoukas.
  • The running joke about Kelli always missing her mouth whenever she drinks is quite amusing. It just goes to show that she may be the most immature of this group of friends. But also, how does that work on a practical level? Does she always miss? Or only when she's been drinking?
  • Also, it's quite funny but also horrifying when Kelli only cares about Issa's relationship drama with Lawrence if he either beat her or she's pregnant. Those are some extreme options. But the truth isn't that tame either. Kelli just doesn't want to hear it.
  • Tiffany definitely sees herself as the most mature of the group because she's married. She is able to pick up on the fact that Issa and Lawrence are no longer together when Molly and Kelli cannot. But she's still not the greatest friend because she just speaks the truth no matter who it ultimately hurts.
  • It's also interesting to see the differences between girls and guys hanging out together following a break up. The guys are all trying to pressure Lawrence into having as much awesome sex as he can while complaining about how different and difficult modern black woman are today. Meanwhile, Issa just bottles her feelings up and doesn't feel like sharing any details because she's on the outs with Molly.
  • There's just a little bit of Frieda in the finale. She pops up to say that Issa should congratulate herself for a good fundraiser. But she doesn't really pick up on how down Issa is feeling. They still aren't that good of friends yet.
  • Again, this has been such a strong first season. I suspect it will rank highly on my year end list of the best TV. Plus, I can't wait to see what the show does next year with even more episodes to work with.