The best television experiences are often the ones that give you a vacation from your reality into a world where anything can happen. Written and filmed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Issa Rae’s HBO comedy series Insecure was a comforting flashback to a time when maintaining a roster of casual sex partners was our biggest issue and drunk brunches with friends were still possible solutions. Black people did the wobble dance in joyous unison at a block party, baecations to Puerto Vallarta, and rekindling of Black love. Above all else, Issa Rae let young Black women flourish on-screen in Insecure while also giving us the laughter we needed to get through a pandemic that made Black joy hard to come by.
Thanks to Rae and Insecure, young Black women were able to see Molly (Yvonne Orji) balance being a successful lawyer, maintain an interracial relationship, and look fabulous in the process. Black men were able to see Lawrence (Jay Ellis) work out of his depressive slump, excel in his career, and gain closure with his longtime love Issa. The sexuality of plus-sized Black people was glamorized instead of satirized as comedic fodder and seldom discussed mental health issues facing Black men was given space to be explored honestly. Rae’s Insecure helped Black people bask in seeing an authentic reflection of themselves on TV every week, no matter how ratchet or bougie they may be.
That Black joy was undeniable. The fourth season of Rae’s groundbreaking HBO comedy received three Primetime Emmy Awards — the most for a single Insecure season ever — including an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for Rae. Rae’s show was also renewed for its fifth and final season, making it one of the longest-running comedy series with a mostly Black cast in HBO’s entire history. And the music on Insecure introduced millions to Black artists like Baby Rose, Q, Yung Baby Tate, and Sampha for the first time.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Rae expressed how she was “grateful that people view our show as an escape,” before expounding further on the love fans have shown during this pandemic: “The entire ‘Insecure’ team works hard to make this show as authentic to the specificity of our stories as possible. It’s been such an odd, discouraging, and scary time to air, but viewers have shown us so much love and made this season in particular unforgettable for us all.”