Sunday, August 19, 2018

REVIEW: 'Insecure' - Issa and Daniel Struggle with the Lack of Momentum in Their Lives in 'Familiar-Like'

HBO's Insecure - Episode 3.02 "Familiar-Like"

Issa gets advice from Kelli about her financial situation, and plays wing woman as Daniel tries to make a music-industry connection.

Issa and Daniel both felt like there were further along with their lives. They have these thriving careers which they've pointed to as being successful in the past. But now, they are seeing that things aren't as great as they appeared to be. Issa felt confident at work. And yet, she is now being punished with desk duty and her boss no longer appreciating what she has to say. Moreover, she cannot afford to get a new apartment. She doesn't have the money saved nor a solid enough credit score to be accepted anywhere. She is pissed about this which makes her insecure about asking Daniel to crash at his place for a little while longer. Meanwhile, Daniel has produced music for some notable artists in the past. He was able to impress Issa in the first season with the passion in his career and what he has already accomplished. But now, he thought he was past having to go to a sketchy club in order to meet up with an up-and-coming artist he wants to collaborate with. He thought his producing abilities would lead to more opportunities for him. He didn't think he would still have to be putting himself in compromising positions and essentially pitching himself to people who are already suspicious that anyone they meet is just looking for a taste of their fame. They are both such insecure characters because they thought they had their lives figured out. The world around them seems perfectly confident and comfortable with the lives they have. The people they went to high school with have more success. They should have made something of their lives by now. They shouldn't still be struggling. And yet, that's exactly what they are doing. It's no longer as accepted or charming as it was a couple of years ago. Now, it's depressing because they are still just flailing around and getting caught in situations that they shouldn't belong in.

The sequence at the club is incredibly telling for both of them. Both Issa and Daniel appreciate getting hit on. They enjoy knowing that they are still attractive to the world when they go out seeking that validation. They head into this environment looking their best and get the attention of the opposite sex. But there is still the awkwardness at the door where they have to rely on someone else vouching for them in order to get in. Otherwise, they would have to stand in line in the hopes that they would make it into the club at a reasonable time while this industry connection is still there. Moreover, the people in this environment come across as immature and irresponsible. It's not the crowd that Issa and Daniel want to associate with. Issa wants to get respect at the bar but can't get the attention of the bartender. She has to rely on a guy who is wearing a grill. She uses him in order to get drinks for herself and Daniel. She is leading him on. She is still living in the awkward dynamic of not knowing what her relationship with Daniel is. But she's too old to just be going out to bars every night in the hopes of being hit on by someone attractive. Meanwhile, a couple of girls recognize Daniel not for having a mutual friend but for being a weed dealer. That's a profession that Daniel has outgrown as well. He no longer wants to be in that business. He would rather focus all of his time and attention on his career. As soon as he mentions that though, these girls just walk away. They don't have time with his explanation. They just want to get high and have a good time. Issa and Daniel want fun and love in their lives as well. But they are at this club for professional opportunities and personal support. This environment no longer reflects the lives they wish to be living though.

Daniel doesn't want to just go up to an artist and pitch himself as the producer who will radically change the sound and catapult the performer to the next level in his career. He doesn't feel comfortable doing that to a complete stranger. He hopes his work will speak for itself. He was hoping to exploit his business connections in the hopes that that would lead to legitimacy. He wouldn't have to make the approach as a total stranger who may not even know the mutual friend. All of this highlights how Daniel is a prideful man. He doesn't want to accept handouts. He wants to make his own success. He believes he deserves more though. This is no longer the scene for him. He is a brilliant producer who can articulate how to make a track better. He can perform the beat for Issa. It's absolutely intoxicating for her. She can jam along to it as well. She sees the value Daniel brings to this potential partnership. She is willing to help him pitch himself too. She pushes him to make the approach. Plus, she distracts the other friend who is sucking the air out of the room. They appreciate this friend from high school getting both of them into the club. He has a successful career and a 4-year-old son. His life has already moved on to the next stage. Daniel sees it as graveling if he were to approach him out of depression to produce a track. And yet, that may be the next move he has to make in order to advance his career. It would save him from being at a club when a shooting occurs. That's such a surprising moment. This is an environment for erratic individuals fighting trivial battles. It's messy and complicated in a way that no one really needs in their life. It's a lifestyle that grows tiring fast. Daniel doesn't want to be a part of this era of music. But he's still at the club when the shooting occurs.

Meanwhile, Issa puts herself in that situation as well. She goes to this club with Daniel as a friend. She presents as a supportive individual who is willing to help him move forward in his career. She does so believing that she only has another week left crashing on his couch. She is embarrassed to ask for more time. Every single apartment she has applied for has been denied. She goes to Kelli for financial advice. She basically laughs in her face about how crumbling her financials really are. She understands perfectly why Issa keeps getting denied. She needs serious help. All she can do right now is hope for the best in saving enough money to afford for four months rent. Plus, she has a great thing in being able to stay on Daniel's couch without him expecting anything in return. She is not paying him for rent. She isn't sleeping with him. She isn't even doing any of the cooking or cleaning. She is just a guest. She wasn't expected to do anything. That may be the perfect living arrangement. Kelli tells her friend to exploit it for as long as possible because it's a wonderful gift that has been given to her. And yet, Issa hates being a 30-year-old woman who is sleeping on a couch. She thought she had prepared better for her life. She thought she could land on her feet even if her relationship with Lawrence and her living situation didn't work out. She thought she had a safety net. And now, it seems like everything is falling apart for her. She is living on the couch of an ex-boyfriend whose new girlfriend has a problem with her. Of course, that's only something that Daniel says in the hopes of pushing Issa away. But Issa is proving her worth by actually doing more around the apartment. She does so in order to buy more time. And yet, it's through her actually being a strong and encouraging friend that gets Daniel to change his mind.

However, do Issa and Daniel want to remain friends? Or do they aspire for more in their relationship? Things got so awkward in the premiere because Issa wasn't able to articulate what she wanted. She still has no idea. She doesn't know if she just wants to appreciate being able to crash on a friend's couch or if she is trying to seduce him once more. She was sending mixed messages. Here, she is all about being a good friend of his. She shows up when needed and checks up on him to ensure that he is still doing okay. She encourages him so that he has the confidence to make his move. It's because of this support that he is willing to let her stay for as long as possible. He is certainly seeing her in a new light. He even offers his bed to her to sleep. He does so knowing how uncomfortable his couch can be. Of course, he won't be sleeping in the bed as well. He is going to be staying up for most of the night working on his music in the hopes of being as impressive and technically proficient as possible for this session with his old friend. But Issa doesn't go straight to bed either. She would rather just sit by Daniel and listen to him as he works. He is fine tuning this beat so that it is perfect. It's work for him. Issa isn't getting in the way of that. But she's in this environment as well. She is jamming out to it too. She isn't going to sleep. She isn't trying to seduce him. There is that moment where it seems like it is a possibility. There is an attraction between them. Right now though, they are choosing to remain friends who simply understand the other better than anyone else in their lives. They appreciate that though and welcome it into their lives. It's just going to be very curious to see if it develops into something more and if that will still be healthy for both of them.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Familiar-Like" was written by Amy Aniobi and directed by Pete Chatmon.
  • Issa has long complained about being the only person of color at her workplace. And now, she hates that she has to continue representing all black people especially since her voice has already been criticized. She doesn't feel confident speaking up at work anymore because the dynamic has shifted. She just wants to be seen as a supportive member of the team instead of someone calling Joanne out for the problems in her business.
  • Of course, it's also so insightful to see the conversation happening in Issa's workplace. For so much of the series, this has been painted as an environment where Frieda was the only person Issa actually liked and wanted to work with. And now, everyone has solid ideas about what's wrong with the current logo and how it could be improved. The nonprofit is struggling and Joanne really doesn't understand why.
  • It's amusing that Joanne doesn't get that the white hand in the logo could be perceived as racist. She doesn't view herself that way and she views it as her hand in the image. So, it can't be racist because she is not racist. And yet, it's not about how she perceives it. It's about how others perceive the organization. And with only white volunteers showing up, it definitely feels like an elitist nonprofit trying to help impoverished communities without fully understanding the experience.
  • Issa has never really been seen socializing with her co-workers either. But here, they are all out having lunch together. It's an environment where Frieda feels able to speak up about how defensive Joanne got during the meeting. It also allows Issa to be frank about hating being the sole person of color speaking for such a diverse community. Plus, the issues raised by the schools can't be discarded like nothing more than typical problems.
  • It really is fascinating to watch an entire episode that doesn't have Molly in it at all. This season is changing it up with the extreme focus on Issa and Daniel. Lawrence is gone completely. That was a massive change. And now, Molly disappears as well. That likely won't be permanent because she's the co-lead. The best moments are when Issa and Molly are together. But this highlights how Issa is living a life that doesn't always include her best friend. She still has to make major decisions without her.