BLACK VOICES
09/11/2018 11:54 am ET

‘Insecure’ Reminds Us The Devil (AKA Lawrence) Always Shows Up Eventually

Season 3, Episode 5: Issa’s squad heads to Beychella and realizes what happens when you outgrow friendships. And, yeah, #He shows up.
Merie W Wallace/HBO

Satan stays busy, and the latest episode of “Insecure” is proof of that.

Issa, Molly, Tiffany and Kelli link up for a “Beyoncé or Bust” weekend at Coachella. It sounds good in theory, but their getaway ends up consisting of more “bust” than Beyoncé. Issa, whose only income comes from Lyft driving, desperately needs an escape so, of course, the brokest is the most pressed for this trip. Molly is still worried about being the best at work, instead of being the best as a person, so she takes on additional work during Beychella weekend. Tiffany, mom of the group and mom-to-be outside of it, begins to realize that her priorities are changing, that she doesn’t always fit in with her squad.

Meanwhile, Kelli is high and hilarious most of the time.

At the festival, Issa reconnects with Nathan ― who’s been MIA apparently ― for a trippy good time and some Ferris wheel dick. While waiting for Beyoncé’s performance, the rest of the crew get into a full brawl with a group of white people blocking their view, leading them to get kicked out and miss Bey’s show. For the first time, we see a bit of a strain in the group’s dynamic.

And if that wasn’t trash enough, Lawrence pops back up to presumably wreak more havoc and ashiness in Issa’s life ― and ours.

On this edition of “Run That Back,” Julia Craven and Taryn Finley discuss outgrowing friendships, seeing black people take recreational drugs in non-stereotypical ways, and how the devil (read: Lawrence) always shows up when you’re on the path to happiness.

Merie W Wallace/HBO

The episode begins with Issa driving for Lyft and running into our favorite “Insecure” character, Thug Yoda. She then runs by Molly’s job to drop off some clothes and update her on the status of her Coachella checklist. After Issa leaves, Molly volunteers to handle an important lawsuit brief while she’s on her vacation in an attempt to impress the partners at her firm. Molly arrives to Palm Springs late, which causes the rest of the crew to miss the first night of the festival.

Taryn: I’m really sick at how much I saw myself throughout this episode. SICK.

Julia: I, too, saw a bit of myself but not in who I thought I’d see myself in.

Taryn: Who’d you see yourself in?

Julia: Kelli, obviously. But also Tiffany. I don’t mind going out and getting shitfaced but I’m also very responsible about it. Like, I know my limit, I don’t go past it and I try to stop people from doing stupid shit.

Taryn: I saw myself in literally everybody, but especially Issa. I’ll get into why later but Tiffany, surprisingly, didn’t get on my nerves like she usually does. I really love when “Insecure” does these squad episodes, and when I saw this was the Beychella episode, I knew they was finna do everything but see Beyoncé perform. Shenanigan levels were on a thou. 

Julia: Oh yeah, I knew they weren’t going to see Beyoncé because the likelihood of Beyoncé approving the usage of any footage or music from that performance was SLIM.  

Taryn: They still had the capacity to fake it for the set though, I’m sure. And even then, they goofy asses would’ve missed the fake performance. I’m actually shocked that Tiffany’s pregnant ass even went, tbh. That desert heat and the chaos that is Coachella is something else and literally the last thing I’d ever want to experience while carrying a little human inside of me. Especially if I’m five-plus months.

Hell, my back hurt just watching her.

Julia: Tiffany is the real MVP of the episode. Truly. Not only was she at Coachella five-plus months pregnant, she was also the group’s mom, which has to be extra tiring considering that they are all grown. 

Taryn: Even off a bite of a weed brownie, she still held it together. Literally the group mom.

Can we talk about how full my heart was when we saw Thug Yoda? I missed him so damn much. 

Julia: BRENSHAW MALL. I wish we had seen more of him and less of you know the fuck who. But alas, only one trash man appears to be looped back into the storyline.

Taryn: I guess we have to take the good with the bad. 😒

Julia: This whole convo today is really me working up to my read of Issa, #Him and the writers on this show. But I’ll save that for the end ― shoutout to Crissle and Kid Fury. And by Issa, I mean showrunner Issa Rae. Not TV Issa. It’s a read of love. 

Taryn: Oooo. Can’t wait for that. In the meantime, let’s talk about pressed ass Molly. I know her life is fucked up but if she doesn’t find balance, she’s gonna burn out quick and it’s gonna be ugly. Can you imagine having access to go to Beychella and not going because you wanted to take on additional work to prove something to your bosses (but really yourself). I haven’t felt bad for anybody in this show like I have for Molly. And I don’t want to. I’m rooting for her but she makes it hard. 

Julia: I did appreciate her saying that black people should wear sunscreen because PLEASE WEAR SUNSCREEN! Melanin does not prevent skin cancer or sunburn!

Now that that’s done, her overzealousness to be this validated by her work makes me sad, too.

Taryn: HELLO! Unfortunately I didn’t learn that till later in life but I wear sunscreen every day now. On my face, at the very least.

Julia: It’s okay to take time off. It’s okay to not always be in competition. But at the same time, I understand how black women are always pushed aside and then we feel this odd desire to make it up and prove our worth to everyone. That’s a pointless game though, since black women’s worth is never seen (e.g., Serena being shitted by an umpire and Naomi beating her idol in a tennis match but feeling bad, because of a shitty ump).

I, too, wear sunscreen daily.

Taryn: Exactly. Feeling the need to sacrifice a vacation ain’t it though. It’s something I’ve had to tell myself because to this day, I still feel guilty or like I’m slacking if I take time off. But like, we really need mental breaks from work. I admire Molly’s drive, just not when it’s at the expense of her own sanity.

Julia: Same. I took a day off last week because of some shit and I felt bad for taking a day to rebuild my mental health. Even though I came back to work mentally stronger than I was the day before. We need those breaks, especially as black women navigating this fucked up world that doesn’t allow us to be human.

Taryn: Yup. A lot of us don’t learn that early, though. We’re taught to work twice as hard, put our all into our careers, take care of others, but taking care of ourselves is the last thing we learn. That’s where that guilt that Molly’s feeling is coming from. It’s OK to want to be the best for yourself, but sometimes it feels like Molly is reaching for the top because that’s what she’s supposed to do and not what she really wants to do. Let me know if I’m reaching but that’s the sentiment I’m getting. She’s a perfectionist at her own expense.

Julia: Oh, nah, that’s exactly what it is. She wants to get to the top because that’s where she sees her worth. But, like I said the other week, if you don’t change how you see yourself and how you see success, you’ll never reach the top. You’ll never climb high enough. That’s one thing I like about her and Issa’s dynamic. With Issa, we see someone searching internally for happiness ― not tying it to their work.

And, sure, work can be a source of happiness. I love writing, for example. But that’s because it often doesn’t feel like work. It feels right. For Molly, it seems like it feels more like another thing to check off the list. 

Taryn: Very much so. I’m glad Issa talked her into going. If I just picked up my friend’s dry cleaning and ran all these errands to help her prep for a getaway weekend, she got me fucked up if she thinks she’s about to drop out last minute. Like it better be a damn good reason. I still don’t think Issa is a good friend but she can be good for Molly sometimes.

Merie W Wallace/HBO

Julia: The gag is none of them are good friends except, shockingly, maybe Tiffany. I feel weird caping for her but she and Kelli are the only ones who didn’t irk me.

Taryn: Don’t feel weird. It’s the truth. They’re actually good friends and realistic about shit. It’s probably why they’re close to each other. They also both have their shit together in ways that Issa and Molly don’t. Not saying they’re perfect either. Tiffany still gets on my nerves.

Julia: That’s actually exactly what it is. And we see that in all friend groups. Some people are just closer than others within the dynamic. Doesn’t change that everybody is each other’s friend. It’s just that people identify with one another for different reasons.

Taryn: Yup. Also, they should’ve left Molly’s ass and went on to the festival the first day. When she texted Issa talmbout she was two hours away, I knew that was a lie. First off, it takes about two hours to get from LA to Palm Springs, so what she was really saying was “I ain’t left the house yet.” Yet Molly wanna talk about somebody’s CPT. OK girl. Just tell them to go and you’ll catch up later.

Julia: jkeigfejwbfhejgfejhfgyuefghjdsfpwieu3yrujksacs

Taryn: I take my vacation time seriously and I don’t need yo always working ass to ruin it for me.

She’s so selfish. Ugh.

Julia: Yeah, I would have been out in the field watching SZA. Alone or with the group. Idc.

Taryn: Hello! Cause my ticket is paid for OKURRRRR!

Julia: You also will NOT ruin Beyoncé or Bust.

Merie W Wallace/HBO

On the second day, Issa wakes the girls up by banging pots together — an ode to the greatest moment ever witnessed on television. Once everyone is up, Issa pulls out a schedule and the crew takes a shot of rosé before going to get dressed. Nathan hits Issa’s phone causing her to throw the schedule in the trash and convince the crew to meet up with him at a “black people party.” Issa and team get there, take molly, and then Molly starts crying at the bar.

Taryn: And sure enough. Deep sigh. We knew the day was a bust as soon as Issa compromised the schedule for Nathan, a nigga she hadn’t heard from since she saw his dick in the pool. 

Julia: Mhm. As soon as plans changed for a man who hadn’t contacted her because he “thought [he] came on too strong” — 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 — I knew it was a wrap. Nathan def has some redeeming qualities but that line blew me. If you pressed, you pressed. If I don’t like it, I’ll tell you. Also men never have an issue being pressed any other time so I don’t know why you can’t be pressed when I want you to be.

Taryn: I’m still Nathan Nation but I don’t have a problem turning in my card the next time he half steps like that. That really blew me but I wasn’t surprised because nigga. He’s cute for a quick lil escapist fun but I don’t see shit going too far with him. He’s here for a good time, not a long time.

Julia: I, too, am Nathan Nation. At least he affirms Issa’s dreams unlike #Him. But, again, we’re working up to that. I’m also not mad at the Ferris wheel dick. Honestly. I’m getting ahead of myself though. I wanna talk about Molly crying at the bar.

Taryn: Chile, they popped molly and I knew it was finna be a mess for everybody. Molly Squared took me out.

Julia: I’ll never understand the folks who get fucked up and start crying about their lives while they’re out at a party. I’m not here to police anybody’s anguish but ... at the bar? At Coachella? But when I get fucked up, I’m not a crier. I get really angry and ready to fight though. So I assume wouldn’t get it. I’m Kelli!

Taryn: Molly seemed like the type, though. That young man ran so far away from her and straight to Kelli that I screamed. Girl, you need to worry about being this open with your therapist, not some random nigga that gave you drugs at the bar.

Kelli, as always, was my fave this episode. She went to that pool party with intentions of fucking everybody and having a good time. THAT is how you enjoy yourself. Not whatever Molly was over there doing. 

Julia: But, again, Kelli ain’t got these problems. Though admittedly we don’t know much about Kelli. I’d like to see her character developed more.

Taryn: Same. Oooo, or a Kelli spinoff!

Julia: A Kelli spinoff that features no one from the flagship show.

Taryn: Yes. I wanna meet her family, get inside her head, see if she fucked Warren. Natasha Rothwell, please bless us with this. 

Julia: I really wanna know if she fucked Warren.

Taryn: Also, we didn’t talk about it, but I really want to give her a shoutout for timing out her edible perfectly, even though Molly fucked the schedule up on the first day. I’d party with Kelli before anybody else on this show. 

Julia: We stan an organized queen who knows her body.


When they finally get to Coachella, everyone except Tiffany — for obvious reasons — is high out of their minds. The crew ends up splitting up, which is always a bad idea. Issa and Nathan have sex on the Ferris wheel. Molly loses her jacket and freaks out about it. Kelli fights a white girl and Tiffany starts crying. This causes the team to get kicked out of the festival just as Beyoncé is about to perform. Kelli tries to run back in, gets tasered and pees on herself.

Julia: So are you pro- or anti-Ferris wheel dick? Because eye am a fan.

Taryn: Girl. Is that even a question? I’m just mad I aint think of it first. She raw dogged on the Ferris wheel on molly and this is what I call living life.

Julia: I feel like we should take a moment to say that you should always protect yourself during sexual encounters. Use a condom!

And yet ... RT She raw dogged on the ferris wheel on molly and this is what I call living life.

RT I’m just mad I aint think of it first.

I’d also like to add that me and Taryn are speaking from the perspective of being in long-term relationships so ... RT RT RT RT RT RT RT RT.

Taryn: Yea, that part. But I love that we got to see black girls high off shit other than weed, making spur-of-the-moment decisions. Cause we ALWAYS get to see white people on screen in these outta control party scenes throwing their inhibitions to the wind. Once again, we’re getting to see another facet of black life that gets overlooked. Black people go to Coachella and get fucked up. And even though EYE would never raw dog a nigga I barely know on a Ferris wheel, I love that we get to see this shit. 

Also, once again, use condoms, kids.

But if you know what you doing and who you doing it with …

Julia: Bitch, yes. I love seeing black people ― particularly women ― get to make bullshit decisions in fairly low-risk situations. They had a wild, drug-infused weekend and this is one thing that happens when you go to a music festival and get fucked up. It’s less about what we as individuals would do and more about being able to see black folks cut up on screen and not have it demonized.

Also, you and your sexual partner should always get tested regularly!

Taryn: Yup! BOTH OF Y’ALL! NOT JUST YOU SIS, HIM/HER/THEM, TOO!

Julia: I also like that it highlighted the fact that black people take party drugs. Black folks don’t just smoke weed.

Taryn: Yup. I’m racking my brain trying to think of another show/film featuring mostly black folks that’s done this in a lighthearted way. I can’t think of any.

Julia: I understand the risks of drug use. And if you know me personally, you know that I know them too well. But it’s still nice to see black people on screen use drugs in the recreational way white people do. If you look across the media landscape, we all smoke crack, shoot heroin or smoke weed on a porch all day while we sell drugs. And I, for one, am tired of that representation. 

Taryn: SAME SAME SAME. It’s always one-sided and never from the perspective of responsible use of party drugs. And we do see party drugs, folks Tyler Perry it and show a black woman literally hitting rock bottom because of it. It’s really unfair. 

I thought it was funny seeing Issa actually rap out her inner thoughts in front of Nathan instead of in her head. I didn’t know if that was because of the drugs or because she’s really open with him, or both, but it was bute. 

Julia: It was very bute. I think it was a combo of both. Either way, I was here for it. I was also here for him affirming her decision to leave her job.

Taryn: Yup. I’m kinda frustrated with her for not applying to Beat Crew yet. Or I’m assuming she hasn’t because she hasn’t talked about it or anything. I think him mentioning her pursuing a career in music will light a fire under her ass, but that makes me mad. Like sis, everything you need to head in that direction is right in front of you. Idk if it’s a matter of her not believing it could actually work out or what. I appreciate Nathan for motivating Issa, but Issa gotta put her big girl drawers on and start connecting the dots herself, too.

Julia: Mhm. She has to believe in herself and also stop letting her anxiety make her stagnant and lazy. I know it’s hard, but also ... come on bbygrl.

Taryn: Right. Also, she new she was finna get some zick that day cause she left the Rite Aid panties at home.

Julia: This is gonna sound respectable as hell but for a minute I was judging her for not having on underwear in the desert in that particular skirt. (Desert + pussy really does equal that jar of sand Molly gave her in Episode 1.) But then I saw she had on her Savage x Fenty!

I’m just assuming it was Fenty. I hope it wasn’t VS. Because she would have had a yeast infection regardless of being commando then.

Taryn: HNHFGYUDshfnjhdgysfyhk

Julia: Tell me I’m lying.

Taryn: You ain’t. Like at all. I, too, pray it was Fenty.

Julia: I think VS drawls are lined with antibiotics. But anyway: The Fight.

Merie W Wallace/HBO

Taryn: Girl. That fight was a hot ass mess.

Julia: Kelli is something else. And poor Tiffany.

Taryn: I ain’t even mad at Kelli. You know how many white people I’ve come close to fighting at festivals because they felt entitled to all the space. It’s why I don’t go to Made In America anymore and why I’ll only go back to Coachella if I have a tier above VIP.

Julia: I don’t blame you. Concerts are hard enough without someone acting like an entitled brat.

Taryn: I’m at the age where I need a seat and a place to retreat from the general public. That’s not even me being bougie. That’s me being tired of y’all’s shit at these festivals.

Julia: That part. If I can’t afford VIP, I don’t go anymore. It’s not worth the headache (unless it’s Beyoncé). Also, Molly can’t fight.

Taryn: Molly fight just like I imagined she would. What the hell was all that tugging she was doing on ole girl?

Julia: I have no clue. She had an opportunity to get plenty a swing in and just didn’t. She fights how I imagine the people who called Cardi “ghetto” for defending her child fight. Not at all. 

Taryn: Molly fight like people who shout, “Whew chile, the ghetto,” but don’t intimately know the ghetto. Which I have thoughts on but I’ll save that one for later. 

Julia

The next morning, everyone wakes up and starts laughing about the night before. Tiffany and Issa go to the store to get some water. In the parking lot, Tiffany admits that she feels left out because she’s pregnant and that she doesn’t really see herself remaining friends with them for much longer due to her new responsibilities as a mother. Issa tries to assure her that things will be fine before going into the store and running into none other than her ex, Lawrence.

Julia: My last thought before I prepare my dragging is that Tiffany is beginning to realize that maybe she shouldn’t be friends with Kelli, Molly and Issa anymore. And I get that feeling. It sucks but sometimes when you’re entering a new level in your life you have to leave people behind. When she said, “I really pushed myself to party with y’all” simply because she felt left out ... I felt for her and I’m glad we got to see this softer side to her.

Even earlier in the episode when Issa was saying that they were there to celebrate Tiffany and not the baby ... it spoke to me as if Issa and the group didn’t understand that the baby is a huge part of Tiffany’s life now. Of course motherhood doesn’t necessarily rank as the defining measure of a woman but it is valid and a big part of our lives (if we decide to have kids).

And people shouldn’t feel obligated to censor their vacation because one person is pregnant, but I think being in that dynamic and being limited in ways her friends weren’t ― plus their reactions to her ― has Tiffany scared.

Taryn: Yea, it’s a hard pill to swallow, but Tiffany has just realized that she’s entered a new stage of her life that isn’t necessarily above or below her friends, just simply one that they don’t identify with right now. And that’s OK. Her priorities have shifted and that means her tolerance for certain things has, too.

Issa was convinced the group was mad at her when she finally made it back to the Airbnb, which I thought was funny because they weren’t really that mad at her but I felt like her guilt of not always being there for her friends like they are for her set in. I actually think the group will break up to some capacity. Not fall out or anything, but just grow apart.

Julia: I think so too, which is fine. And like you said, it isn’t that Tiffany is better than them. She just has a kid on the way and her priorities ain’t the same. She’s not gonna be out here drunk every weekend anymore and that’s OK. (And very much my speed. I hate going out. I’m a plant mom. I have to come home and water my plants.)

Plant maternity.

Taryn: I’m a bed mom. I have to make sure that my bed is tended to on the weekends. Especially since I feel like I neglect her during the week.

Julia: I just repotted my aloe plant, actually.

Taryn: I need to do that, actually, because mine is looking sad. 

Julia: Bbygrl finna spread like wildfire.

Provided by Julia Craven

Taryn: Ooooo! Growing faster than the character development in this show.

 

Julia: It’s amazing what love and time can do. Issa and Molly could be like my aloe if they looked within. But, if you don’t have any other takes, I’m ready to deliver my dragging. 

Taryn: I give the floor to you, good sis.

Julia: Get comfortable.

Taryn: Settles in. 

Julia: Aight, so boom.

Lawrence is back and I’m honestly, truly exhausted. I’m basing this piece of the assessment on the preview for next week’s episode but ... why, on God’s sweet green Earth, do television plotlines always pivot to women trying to get back into failed relationships? Why? It seems like, from the preview, that she’s going to try and explore what’s still there with him even though we all know the answer is nothing. And because the answer is so obviously “nothing,” bringing Lawrence back is incredibly lazy writing. Maybe that’s a #take, but ask me if I give a fuck. (Hint: I do not.) 

We see this in damn near every movie and TV show. It’s really exhausting. I’d love to see a lead woman character make the decision to stay out of failed relationships instead of being enticed by them. I don’t want her to see what else could be there. I don’t want her to explore. I want her to finish evolving into the Charizard she is instead of devolving just for the sake of the show making it another three or four episodes.

I understand that Issa dabbling in what’s not good for her is just a part of who she is. I get it. I know, I know. But I still don’t understand how showrunners can maintain that the men we date aren’t the most interesting piece of our journey and then bring back the man every nigga on the internet is fascinated with.

Sure, a theme of the show is that the ex pops back up when you’re happy. That’s a life theme — but come on. I fear that this is going to be set up as “broken black woman who is at a crossroads in her life tries to get back with her ex, who has moved beyond that low point in his life and is now doing better and is thus in a more powerful position than her”  ― that’s toxic and I’d appreciate seeing Issa climb out on her own, like we all believe she can, instead of, once again, let a man save her. I’m really fucking tired of that plotline on this show and every other show.

Last thing: Nathan Nation, gang gang.

Taryn: Maybe I’m a lil too optimistic, but I kinda believe that Issa’s gonna be better than that. Like I really, truly believe that Lawrence popping up is a Mercury retrograde moment and Issa’s being tested. She’s finally putting one foot in front of the other for her own sake. And it does feel like she’s being set up for a state of regression, but I think the show, and the audience, is beyond that and the writers know. Or at least I hope they do.

Lawrence is the very last nigga I wanted to see pop back up, but I can kinda see the canvas they’re laying out. Reaching new levels in your life can sometimes lead to old devils pulling new tricks to snatch you back. I see this happening. This may sound weird, but I think when Issa finally gets over the hill she’s been trying to climb is when she’ll realize her calling in music. I think she’s the most honest and purest form of herself when she’s freestyling.

Right now, Lawrence seems appealing because she’s scared. She’s scared of the unfamiliar and the uncharted, something that most of us experience. And because she’s not leaning into her truest self and, like you said earlier, looking inward, that fear is ruling her decisions. That’s a big reason why she hasn’t applied to Beat Crew yet. I was so livid when I saw #Him pop up on my screen. Like beyond words. But then I realized that the shit that we don’t face and heal from has a tendency to pop back up and rock us. I thought that she faced it when she finally admitted that she shouldn’t have cheated, but by the way she got rocked in this preview, maybe not. Idk, I’m still optimistic that his return is for a reason. I just hope that this will genuinely be the last time we see him in her life.

All that said, I’m still SICK Ashy Twitter got what they wanted. And I really pray that this is setting her up for a moment of self-actualization more than anything. 

Julia: I hope so too. I’m glad you’re optimistic because I’m not. Hopefully, though, we see him and she keeps moving onward. I guess I’m just traumatized by this because it’s a constant plotline. The Devil do pop up when you happy though. The deepest of sighs.

Taryn: Yea, you right it is. And it’s very tired. I know drama is what the people want, but the episodes I’ve enjoyed the most have been those rooted in joy.

Julia: Same. Seeing black women constantly in drama is equally exhausting.

Taryn: And my heart is too weary for that every damn week. Give me levity, give me peace.

Julia: Enchanté. Idk what that means but it was on my spirit.

Taryn: LMAO It means “nice to meet you.”

Julia: jewnfewuhfjehf NIGGA.

Taryn: Honestly, enchanté to you too my nigga.

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