And what you can expect for the rest of the season.
Season 2 left off last year with life, yet again, uprooted Issa (Issa Rae) and throwing her for a loop. Her job took her out of the field, working with struggling kids in schools around LA, after an incident where she was just trying to do the right thing. She can no longer afford her apartment in the complex she and Lawrence (Jay Ellis) had lived in since the first season. In the empty apartment, she finally says goodbye to Lawrence (hopefully) for good. With no place to live, she shows up on Daniel’s doorstep, and we are left to wonder if she will keep her promise of just “sleeping on the couch” or if she’ll cave and fall right back into his arms.
That concern is debunked early in the Season 3 premiere “Better-Like” as we see (and certainly hear) Daniel having sex with another woman in his bedroom. Issa, forced to either listen or get out, decides to roam the streets looking for Lyft customers instead of dealing with that horrifying experience. Just like in the past seasons, Issa can’t catch a break and picks up a drunk kid who pukes in her car. Issa’s not just doing Lyft to get out of the house while Daniel has loud sex with no concern for Issa, she’s trying her best to make enough money to move out.
Her day job at We Got Y’all is much of a step up from her night job now that she’s confined to a desk and given the dirty work of calling schools that don’t want the organization’s help anymore. Almost all of the people she called cited We Got Y’all’s problematic and exclusive rhetoric as the reason for discontinuing services. Issa, trying to be proactive, takes what she’s gathered to her boss Joanne (Catherine Curtin) since her supposed work buddy Frieda (Lisa Joyce) won’t talk vouch for Issa’s ability to be in the schools. It turns out that Joanne doesn’t want to improve the organization if it means checking her own problematic behavior, especially if that criticism is coming from Issa. The organization’s issues with race and ethnicity have been a source of tension since the first episode, but it seems that Issa’s voice is buried now more than ever.
Issa picks up Molly from the airport, where she’s returning from a vacation on some gorgeous beach. Molly, seemingly living the exact opposite life of Issa, tells her she’s never been better. She’s in control of her relationships, she is taking control of her job, and she’s pampering herself. Despite her usual overly positive attitude, she’s struggling with some of the same emotional issues Issa is having with Molly’s unusual arrangement with her (more than) friend’s with benefits Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson). It’s clear they have feelings for each other, but Molly isn’t comfortable being emotionally vulnerable with someone who’s in an open marriage. When she suggests they have some boundaries, Dro denies anything wrong with their arrangement and later plans to go out to dinner. Finally, Molly speaks up for herself when Dro lets himself into her apartment with a key like a boyfriend would. She wants boundaries, but when Dro asks her what she really wants, he gets mad at the fact that she’s not happy being at his beckon call while never reaping the emotional benefits. Satisfying as it is seeing Molly get what she wants, we know better than to expect that this is the end between her and Dro.
Meanwhile, Issa tries to define her own terms with Daniel, who tries to kiss her one night when she comes home from work. She denies him, saying that they “know better” than to get involved again, even though both of them want to. Issa then confesses that Daniel’s affairs are making her uncomfortable since she still has feelings for him, despite her better judgment. Like Dro, he gets pissed that he has to change his ways with consideration for other people, and storms into his bedroom. Later he ends up giving Issa the night to herself in their apartment, taking his loud sex somewhere else.
Lawrence is noticeably absent from the first episode, and while we love Jay Ellis, we survived without Lawrence’s douchey side plot. To fill that gap, the writers have begun to focus on Daniel and his life outside of Issa. Daniel is a more interesting subject by far, but he’s obviously not even close to perfect since he admitted to having loud sex while knowing and not caring that Issa was on the couch. We get to see his daughter for the first time, but their relationship seems sparse. We knew he was passionate about his music and we get to see Daniel in the studio to prove that even more. He’s not amused by the less-than-talented singer one of his friends brings in to record. Daniel wants real talent and love for music, not simply creating it through autotune. This seems out of character in his business by the company he keeps in the studio, making him look like the cool, deep guy of the industry. We can sympathize with Issa for staying with Daniel, considering it’s not hard to fall for his smooth moves as an audience and forget the way he’s treated Issa.
Like past seasons, Insecure is ready to take on political issues as well as telling personal stories of the characters. Issa and Molly encounter a predatory and just plain gross guy on their Lyft escapade. The disconnection between employees of nonprofits and those they help (and the lack of concern to change that) is extremely obvious in Issa’s job. Police brutality and other issues are snuck in with clips of a Martin-like sitcom that Issa watches on TV. We can undoubtedly expect more social commentary from this season, which is some of the best on TV right now. The writers of Insecure find ways to make social issues intrinsic to characters’ stories, probably because these issues are unavoidable in black peoples’ lives.
In the end of the episode, Daniel gives Issa what she asked for, the apartment to herself, but she decides to go out and pick up Lyft customers instead. It’s an optimistic ending in that Issa is taking control of her situation and working towards being on her own–for her financial and emotional stability. In the season’s trailer though, it seems that Issa changes her mind down the line and starts to warm up to her couch life with Daniel.
The teaser for next week’s episode suggests Issa’s life is going to get any easier. Daniel’s girlfriend (?) Vanessa demands Issa moves off his couch, but Issa’s credit makes that an impossible option. Joanne refuses to be open-minded towards We Got Y’all’s racist foundations. Although, it seems that Issa’s concerns are being reaffirmed by the other white employees in the next episode, which may be what needs to happen for Joanne to listen, as annoying as that is. Though this episode was void of Kelli and Tiffany, there are hilarious conversations and fun get-togethers in store for the next episodes.
The Season 3 premiere did not disappoint in bringing back Insecure with as much fervor as the past seasons. It’s moving in the right directions with just as many setbacks as we need to be entertained and feel like we are watching real people deal with real life, or as close as you can get to that on TV.
Insecure airs on HBO Sundays at 10:30 PM EST.