Hit HBO show ‘Insecure’ normalizes the black experience

Martina Bretous/ Entertainment Director

I’m not Olivia Pope. I don’t live a fast glamorous life filled with torrid love affairs, devastating deaths, and a team of gladiators to support me along the way.

I also don’t relate to the struggles of “Basketball Wives,” “Love and Hip Hop,” or any woman from The Bad Girls Club.

I fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, in another parallel universe with less dramatic circumstances. Issae Rae, TV writer, producer, and creator of the hit HBO show “Insecure,” accurately described that state as ABG: awkward black girl.

I would say I live my life at an awkward level 5 at all times. 1 being an elevator ride with a stranger, awkward but expected; 10 being Miss Colombia finding out she wasn’t Miss USA, cringey and horrifying.

Most of my friends would find themselves at about the same level. However, that reality is rarely represented on television. Often, black women are represented in extremes on television: elegant and successful or struggling and ratchet.

Rae told The Hollywood Reporter, back in October, that she sets out to “normalize blackness.” Her new HBO comedy is a follow-up series to her popular Youtube series, “Awkward Black Girl,” from 2011.

“Insecure” centers around Issa, a 29-year-old woman living in Los Angeles, and explores the uncertainty and doubts young women feel in their late twenties in dealing with relationships, friendships and career goals.

The main storyline in season one focuses on Issa’s relationship with her boyfriend, Lawrence, who is unemployed and struggling to jump start his business. Throughout the season, Issa voices her frustration with hilarious raps and quick rants only viewed by the audience.

We also see characters deal with microaggressions in the workplace. Issa, as the only black employee at a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring inner city youth, is often asked to speak for her entire community.

Issa’s best friend, Molly, played by Yvonne Orji, works at a law firm and early on in the show, it’s noted that Molly has mastered the art of separating “Work Molly,” who avoids using slang or being too loud and “Regular Molly,” who is outspoken and lively.

She even tries to help Rasheeda, or “Da Da,” a new rambunctious black employee who has yet to learn the appropriate work culture at the firm, especially for employees of color. Da Da rejects Molly’s advice and learns the hard way the consequences of being too loud for the corporate world.

While race is highlighted in the show, it doesn’t drive the plot – which is key in normalizing our experiences. It’s important for us to continue speaking about race relations in the United States in life and in television, and how it affects people of color however, it’s equally as important for it not to be our only story.

For the first time in a long time, we are seeing black women lead regular lives while awkwardly stumbling along the way. I’m black, I’m awkward and it’s about time we saw more of that on our TV screens.

One Martini, Please is a column that focuses on a range of issues affecting students. 

Photo retrieved from Flickr

About the Author

Martina Bretous
Afro- Caribbean. Communication Arts Major. Cat lover. TV Junkie.

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