Issa’s (Issa Rae) life is tumultuous, to say the least. From problems on the job, to problems with her live in boyfriend and her stressed out best friend, no matter where she turns, insecurity seems to get the best of her. From the opening scene where she’s attempting to address a class of intermediate students to explain what she does for a living (she works in the non profit job that tries to improve the circumstances of inner city youth) to where she’s speaking to her best friend Molly, we see that Issa is struggling with confidence. She is struggling with her job, her relationship and what she wants out of life. The theme of strong African American women wanting better is prevalent throughout the pilot and I have a feeling it will be evident in the rest of the series.
Issa feels that she is the token African American woman at her job. Her coworkers assume she knows the entire latest social media street talk lingo. She feels that she could be contributing more at her work and yet, she is limited in what she can do. Her higher-ups don’t accept her ideas or even want Issa to try new things. They say that they want to see the staff take the initiative and yet, when Issa comes up with something, they don’t come to fruition. Her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji, at right)) is obsessed with marriage, or more to the point, why she isn’t getting engaged while her coworkers and others all around her are getting a ring on it. Molly is a successful lawyer who has a great condo, fantastic clothes and people seem to flock to her. And yet, she is still a very insecure, lonely woman.
Issa is also dealing with her own relationship woes. She feels trapped with her boyfriend Lawrence. She doesn’t really see anything good coming out of this relationship anymore and the fact that she just celebrated her 29th birthday makes her feel that time is slipping away. I am willing to bet that there are millions of people out there that feel as though they don’t have the time to invest in relationships anymore, especially if they’ve run their course. To cope with her issues Issa likes to rap in front of the mirror – it’s kind of funny, but we also see that she is very down on herself. She wants to try new things but seems afraid to get out there and do it.
Before going out to a club, we see Issa getting ready and in front of the mirror, putting on her best one liners, trying on lots of makeup and attempting to put on some serious sexy swagger. As Issa said earlier, passive aggressiveness is what she does best. She talks a good talk, but in the end, she softens up and doesn’t put on an aggressive stance. Issa also seems to be intrigued by a former beau and in an attempt to cheer Molly up, the two ladies go out to some swanky club, which the main brand of entertainment of the evening is an open mic contest. Of course, Issa sees her former boyfriend and the two talk. Flirtatious text messages are sent between the two. Is this going to be good for her or not so much ofr stick with the current guy Lawrence (Jay Ellis)?
After a disastrous experience at the club, Issa and Molly talk frankly. Both women are insecure – dating is hard with all kinds of men playing all kinds of games; dealing with colleagues can be annoying or frustrating; and even something as simple as going out and having a good time turns into a bland situation. No matter who you are, how much money you make and the level of success you have attained, if you are insecure, it messes with your head and your heart. You will often second guess yourself, you’ll feel lost in the crowd, not knowing what your next move is. And when you lack the self confidence to try and improve your circumstances, you end up stuck in a rut. That’s exactly where Issa is at. Maybe, wse will see her dig out of it by season’s end.
The look and feel of this show is a slick, urban environment. We are treated to restaurants, offices, and places of employment, clubs, living spaces and the dating scene. The show mainly focuses on the plight of educated, empowered African American women and the issues they face in the corporate, education and relationship sector. In terms of music, there’s a lot of rap in the background, so if you’re a fan of Drake or any hot hip hop rap star, this is the show for you. Issa isn’t so bad at her rap game, either. She can really put a line or two together with spunk and attitude. I think everyone can relate to this show because at the heart of it is the theme of relationships and how everyone has their share of insecurities.
Insecure: “Messy as F***”
In the aftermath of the club experience, Molly and Issa go to a mail salon and get their nails done. Molly explains to Issa about all the different dating apps and all that sordid experiences she’s had. However, Issa has yet to deal with Lawrence (pictured) and her feelings of lamentation and malaise.
The joys and frustrations of a relationship: it takes two people to work at it. There’s going to be times where everything seems fantastic, like a bowl of peaches and you look through everything with rose colored glasses. Then, there’s going to be the times where everything seems crappy; you can’t balance your check book; everything your partner does annoys the hell out of you and things become stagnant. Issa spends time apart from Lawrence and tries to figure out what it is she wants from life. Of course, hanging out with Molly also gives her some perspective about Lawrence. Molly is not the one for advice as she is having a very tough time in the dating world – it seems like every time she feels a date is going good, she ends up completely frustrated or disappointed.
Issa also continues to experience setbacks and frustration at work. Once again, her supervisor doesn’t take any of her new ideas seriously (even when a co-worker tries to help her out during a presentation) and Issa is made to feel less than stellar about her work performance. Between avoiding Lawrence; feeling unappreciated at her job, listening to the endless parade of dating woes from Molly and talking to herself in the mirror, really appears to be really confused. When she raps into that reflective glass, she comes off as a strong, intelligent woman who will not take any crap from anyone. However, the facade quickly shatters, leaving a stumbling, discouraged woman in it’s’ place. Dealing with the death of a relationship is tough – nobody wants to hurt, nobody wants to get caught up in the mess, confusion and heartache that a break-up can bring. Everyone has dreams and goals that they want to strive towards. Issa feels that there could be something else better out there for herself – whether it’s a better job or another relationship – she’s a bit unclear, but she’s as messy as oh, well you know, and desperately wants to try to fix things.
Issa and Molly are both what you would call a ‘hot mess.’ These women are attractive, educated and emotionally confused. They both have their share of frustrations, doubts, anger and heartache to deal with. Like a messy kitchen with food all over the place or a classroom that has had children go through every single toy bin, when things are messy, you feel a lack of control, a lack of ease and a huge sense of doubt. Until things become neat and tidy, you’re waddling through the muck, just trying to make it through the day.
Themes of lack of control and being stuck in a rut permeate this episode. It’s so easy to get caught up in a lackluster situation. Yet, even still, friends will offer advice, such as “oh you have it made” right up to “if you’re not happy, then leave.” When has change ever been easy for anyone?! It is the scariest thing to do – whether it’s changing your career, your relationship status, your education or your address. It’s scary because of the fear of the unknown. Is it easier to stay in something because of stability or predictability or is it better to take chances and take the first step outside your comfort zone? Will Issa stay put and toe the line or will she find the courage to make some changes? Let’s stick around to find out.
HBO has turned one song from the premiere into the music video below.