Last night’s penultimate episode of Insecure season two was a product of two years worth of excellent writing for characters that are often terrible to each other —culminating in some of the most hilarious, cringe-worthy and satisfying confrontations the show has offered thus far.
In this fifteenth episode, the series hit a sweet spot coveted by every television writer worth his or her weight in text—every laugh, gasp or flinch, induced by ‘Hella Disrespectful’ was delivered through the weight subtext. Only a handful of shows have ever reached this point—Seinfeld, Game of Thrones, The Carmichael Show, etc.—where viewers react to what’s on their screen with a sharp awareness of what’s in a character’s head.
For how insufferable and all too relatable they can be at times, there’s a remarkable amount of personality written into each character of Insecure. That personality drives the story. Conflicts never feel contrived, and narratives never feel manufactured. As Issa tries to resolve her issue from last week’s episode with Daniel, she asks “why shit always gotta be so messy?”
Because we know these characters, every viewer knows damn well why their shit is so messy—because they are.
On Twitter, ESPN’s Bomani Jones often jokingly refers to Insecure as #blackcivilwar, given how folks project their lives onto vessels provided by the show and launch judgments and loaded assessments at one another for hours on end each Sunday night. A part of this war the show’s writers seem hip to is the meticulous tallying of each character’s transgressions, adding to the trash heap of subtext that makes the show more fun to talk and think and write about each week.
While on that phone call, valid or not, Daniel spoke for plenty of men still salty over that “itch I needed to scratch” line from last season once he explained to Issa “we both did some fuck shit...now you know how I felt.” And her response labeling him a “disrespectful, petty ass nigga,” while accurate, could have fallen on deaf ears, as folks understand pettiness to be a part of Issa’s repertoire as well.
At that point, Issa had just gotten off the phone with a dude who said he nutted in her face for revenge, to then watch her ex-boyfriend—the person she cheated on with that dude—enter the room with another woman on his arm. Molly was forced into spectatorship, as she admired Dro’s relationship with his wife from across the table, saddled with something that seemed to resemble guilt and regret. Both of these tense situations were most likely made worse, massaged by Tiffany and Derek’s facade of perfection.
Eventually, Molly wound up fucking Dro (again) in the bathroom while his wife ate carrot cake with the gang, and Issa and Lawrence wound up outside the restaurant for a verbal scrap more reckless than the Malice at the Palace, and more fiery than the Rumble in the Jungle. In the end, subtext was the victor. The best part of that argument was refereeing it as a viewer:
“You couldn’t wait to parade whoever the fuck in front of me and my friends”—sort of like how Lawrence had to stand next to the dude who slept with his girlfriend at that fundraiser thing y’all attended for your job?
“I’m not parading anybody”—eh, yes you are, dog. Don’t make this worse by lying.
“And then on some fuck shit, you block me?!”—unbeknownst to Lawrence, you are an internet stalker, ma. Your brakes need pumping.
“Yeah, I blocked you, because I was tired of seeing pictures of the nigga you fucked while we were together”—fair.
“You still fucking that nigga?”—alright now, you’re asking too many questions, my nigga.
“So you still fucking him. Who else did you fuck while we were together?”—you speeding right now, Lawrence. Stay in your lane, sis.
“What about what you’re doing? Fucking me while you were with some bitch that works at your bank. And really, nigga? Her?”—yeah that was foul, but wait what are you trying to say about Queen Tasha right now?
“‘Cause being some fake ass music producer’s jump off is better? I bet that nigga’s a real fucking gentleman”—just wait until you find out about the eye napkin, my G.
“He’s got way more going on than woot woot...was it worth all that time I spent supporting your depressed ass?”—well, if you know he was depressed, that’s a low blow. Mental health ain’t nothing to play with.
“Probably not as much time as you spent being a fucking hoe”—slut shaming in response to depression shaming. We seem to have reached a double disqualification, kids.
After the spat, Lawrence picked up the pieces and kissed Aparna for the first time on screen. Issa, on the other hand, returned home to a notice alerting her of a rent increase, and trashed her apartment in frustration. We’ll find out how much is to be drawn from those opposite reactions during the 45 minute season finale next week.