The nominations for the Golden Globes were unveiled today, and there’s a lot of Internet chatter about surprising inclusions and some glaring omissions.
The HBO series “Insecure” was notably absent from the contenders for Best Comedy Series. Actress and writer Issa Rae was also missing from the nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy. Despite landing eight Emmy nominations, the HBO comedy was virtually shut out of Golden Globes contention.
Also shut out was the HBO drama “I May Destroy You”. The critically acclaimed British drama stars Michaela Coel as Arabella, a young woman trying to rebuild her life after being raped. Coel created, wrote, and co-directed the series, which was partially inspired by her own experience with sexual assault. Set in London, with a predominantly black cast, the series got rave reviews from critics: the New York Times said it was “one of the most stunning narrative feats not just of the year but maybe the last decade.” One writer called it the best drama series of 2020.
As MSN noted, “Lovecraft Country,” which had a predominantly Black cast including Jurnee Smollett and Michael K. Williams, and mixed edgy explorations of racism and police brutality with elements of science-fiction, magic and horror, earned a best drama series nomination from the Globes — but none for acting. Both Smollett and actor Jonathan Majors were passed over.
There were, however, some notable inclusions. The late Chadwick Boseman was nomianted for Best Actor in a Drama for playing a troubled trumpeter in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. (Boseman died of cancer in August.) His co-star Viola Davis was also nominated for Best Actress. She is considered a frontrunner of sorts for her performance in the title role. (The film is based on a play by the late Black playwright August Wilson. He also wrote the stage play “Fences” — Davis’ work in the film version won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2017.)
Competing with Davis in the Best Actress in a Drama category: singer Andra Day. Ms. Day is nominated for her work in the Hulu film “The United States versus Billie Holiday”, directed by Lee Daniels. Day is a double nominee: she’s also up for best original song for her tune “Tigress and Tweed”, co-written by singer-songwriter Raphael Saddiq. Also nominated in that category is Leslie Odom, Jr. He, too, is a double nominee: up for best original song (“Speak Now”, from the movie “Last Night in Miami”) and best supporting actor in a drama (for playing Sam Cooke in “Miami”).
The film’s director, actress Regina King, is nominated for best director. She is one of three female directors in that category: also in contention are Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” It’s the first time that more than one woman has been a contender for Best Director. (Only one woman has won: Barbra Streisand, for “Yentl”, in 1984.) King, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her work in “If Beale Street Could Talk”, is only the second Black woman to be nominated for directing.
King received high praise from Odom. “I want Regina’s name called again and again,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “She has inspired me for decades in front of the camera — just this very past year, her performance in Watchmen is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen on a television series. That is not hyperbole; it was just an astounding performance, and she brought that same nose for truth and that same sensitivity and protectiveness to her work behind the camera. I’m always happy to hear that Regina King’s name is mentioned, and that’s spoken as a Regina King fan.”
UPDATE (Feb. 4, 2021): Odom, Boseman, and Davis have also been nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards for their performances, in categories respective to their Golden Globe nods. Boseman is a double SAG nominee for best actor (“Miami”) and best supporting actor (Spike Lee’s joint “Da 5 Bloods”). Davis has also received two nominations for the NAACP Image Awards. She’s up for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (for “Ma Rainey”) and Outstanding Actress in a TV series (“How to Get Away with Murder”). She, along with King, is vying for the night’s top prize: Entertainer of the Year.
The Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced today. According to Variety, 35 of the 102 acting nominees are Black — the most ever. Black actors make up 34.3% of the nominees, which is substantially higher than last year’s 19.8%. (In 2018, the percentage was 27.7%, which was a record at the time.) Frank Scherma, CEO of the Television Academy, pointed to the racial unrest sweeping America as a reason for the noticeable change in representation. “2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year, we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change,” he said today.
Billy Porter is nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series for his work on “Pose”. Last year, Porter became the first openly gay black actor to win that award. This year, he’s nominated again, amidst a crowded field that includes actor Sterling K. Brown (for “This is Us”). Brown won in 2017, and in his acceptance speech he honored Andre Braugher — the last black actor to win that award (in 1998). Ironically, both are competing in the same category this year.
Braugher is nominated this year for best supporting comedy actor for his role as Detective Pendleton on the Fox comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”. Brown is also nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy, for his portrayal of Reggie in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. (Deadline reported Brown as saying that he would be happy to return as Reggie next season.)
Singer and actress Zendaya scored a best drama actress nomination for her performance as a teenager recovering from drug addiction in the HBO series “Euphoria”. She, too, is in a crowded field that includes Jennifer Aniston, Laura Linney, and Sandra Oh. (Zendaya’s father is African-American; her mother has Irish, German, English and Scottish ancestry.)
Don Cheadle scored an Emmy nod for best actor in a comedy for the Wall Street-themed Showtime series “Black Monday”. Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are nominated for best comedy actor and actress, respectively, for “Black-ish”. Ross is nominated alongside actress and writer Issa Rae, nominated for her work on “Insecure”. Her co-star Yvonne Orji, who plays Issa’s (ex?)-best friend Molly, is also nominated for best supporting comedy actress.
It was the supporting and limited/guest actor categories, in fact, where black actors shined. Black and Italian actor Giancarlo Esposito scored three nominations, including best guest actor in a drama for “The Mandalorian”. He is also nominated twice for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series — for playing the kingpin Gus Fring. (He played the role in AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and its legendary predecessor “Breaking Bad”.)
In the category of best actress in a limited series, three Black actresses are nominated: Regina King, (“Watchmen”), Octavia Spencer, (“Self Made”) and Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere“). Washington is cast opposite Reese Witherspoon in “Little Fires”, based on the novel by Celeste Ng. The Hulu series depicts two women grappling with class differences in Cleveland. Spencer portrays legendary Black businesswoman Madame C.J. Walker in “Self Made”. Walker built an empire of hair and beauty products to become the first self-made female millionaire. She plays a detective fighting white supremacy on “Watchmen”. King reacted to the news on Twitter:
“Watchmen” scored a stunning 26 nominations, leading the pack among all other series. (Oscar winner Lou Gossett, Jr. is up for best supporting actor in a limited series.) The HBO series is based on a graphic novel. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the show depicts a town where white supremacists have threatened the police — who must wear masks to protect themselves.
But Watchmen wasn’t the only HBO show to make an impression. In fact, “Insecure” received eight nominations, including its first-ever nod for best comedy series. The half-hour series will compete with seven other nominees, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Good Place. Remarkably, Insecure was also nominated twice for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (Half-Hour). Ava Berkosky is nominated for “Lowkey Lost”; Kira Kelly is nominated for her work on “Lowkey Happy”, which Berkovsky directed.
The episode “Lowkey Happy” was written by “Insecure” actress Natasha Rothwell. (You can read my rapturous review of that episode — and of Kelly’s luminous cinematography — here.)
In an interesting twist, the former President and First Lady were also in the running for awards this season. According to The Hill, President Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company earned seven Emmy nominations this year with two acclaimed documentaries. “American Factory” and “Becoming” were both were recognized for directing.
“American Factory,” which follows the story of a factory in Ohio after it’s reopened by a Chinese billionaire, was nominated for three categories: outstanding picture editing for a nonfiction program, outstanding cinematography for a nonfiction program and outstanding directing for a documentary/nonfiction program. “Becoming”, which follows Mrs. Obama on a book tour involving her memoir, is a contender for best documentary.
Tonight’s episode of Insecure (“Lowkey Lost”) was even more eventful than last week’s. Tonight’s jumbo-stuffed episode threw viewers more than a couple curveballs: two main characters’ relationships reach major crossroads, and one supporting character faces a very real crisis — one that affects millions of women across the world.
At a market, Lawrence informs Issa that he got the job in San Francisco. Issa is elated for him, but Lawrence questions what this means for the relationship. “Is the distance a deal-breaker?” he asks.
“No, it’s not,” Issa responds. “San Francisco’s a 45-minute flight, and you know, if things stay good between us, who knows? Maybe I could [move],” she suggests.
“What about your work? Or your family, your friends?” Lawrence asks.
“I can make new friends,” Issa responds. “I might need to.”
She approaches Lawrence with a dead-set gaze. “Honestly, I’m at a point in my life where I just want to cut out the bulls–t and surround myself with things that make me happy. Like you. So if we want this to work, it’ll work.” “Good. ‘Cause I want it to work, too.”
Having just left her lovey-dovey meeting with Lawrence, Issa travels to Nathan’s barbershop. For what reason, I wondered? Was this going to be the moment that Issa sabotages her chance for happiness with Lawrence (again)? Would Nathan make a move and force Issa to choose? No. It turns out that Issa just wants to evaluate Nathan’s barbershop space for a future event. (Event planning does seem to be a potential career path for Issa these days.)
He apologizes for throwing shade at Lawrence in the previous episode (calling him “sometimey”, like Nathan didn’t turn into Casper the Ghost last season). “I get that I messed up,” Nathan admits, adding that hearing news of her getting back with Lawrence hurt him more than he expected. Issa understands that, but she’s not about to offer him any false hope.
“I really want to be a good friend to you,” Issa says, “but I’m with Lawrence now. So if that’s too much–”
“It’s not,” Nathan interrupts. “I just wanted to be honest about how I felt, and the last thing I want to do is make your life more complicated.”
So what we thought would lead to a betrayal of Lawrence turns out to be perfectly benign: Nathan is respectful of Issa’s relationship and content to be her platonic friend…at least for now.
Molly brings Nathan to a work event and a colleague invites her to an after-party of sorts. Andrew doesn’t want to go, but Molly sweetens the deal by offering to have the bartender play one of his artists. Andrew agrees, but it’s yet another inconvenient sacrifice for the relationship, and his resentment is building. Later, when they return to the apartment, Andrew wants to watch the ”Looking for Latoya” reunion. Molly is tired and just wants to lay down. ”I won’t give anything away,” Andrew promises. But she doesn’t want him to watch without her. It’s yet another instance of them not being on the same page.
“You know, if it was me who wanted to stay out longer today, it would have been a whole thing,” Andrew says. So… what’s the problem?
“Every time I mention something that bothers me, you just dismiss it,” he complains. “But I’m supposed to bend over backwards when it’s about you.” Molly somehow doesn’t see how Andrew’s “bending over backwards.” Like he hasn’t been doing that since the minute they met.
“I do whatever you want, Molly,” he complains. “It’s getting old.”
Their fight (the second one they’ve had in two episodes!) is interrupted by a (frantic?) call from Kelli (Natasha Rothwell). Their mutual friend Tiffany DuBois (Amanda Seales) is missing. Molly joins Issa, Kelli, and Tiffany’s husband Derek in a frantic search for the missing mother. They spend nearly all of the episode’s midsection looking for Tiffany, visiting bars, restaurants, and surveillance cameras. And when they finally find her, she’s nothing like the Tiffany they used to know.
* * *
The signs of postpartum depression have been there all season — Tiffany not properly bonding with her baby, joking about leaving her at the fire station — but everyone missed them. (Which speaks volumes about the depth of her friendships with these girls.) So the (wo)manhunt for Tiffany exposes a blind spot that everyone involved seems to have.
The search for Tiffany is also a nifty way of bringing Issa and Molly back together. They’re forced to coexist while on the hunt. And Derek’s words about losing Tiffany parallel what these two friends have been through this season. “I knew she wasn’t happy,” Derek muses, “but I thought time would fix it.” While listening to him, Issa and Molly realize what their friendship means to them.
They eventually reconnect at the episode’s end, after both have been blindsided by game-changing news about their romantic relationships. That was part of the design, according to writer/director Prentice Penny:
The problem is that we viewers (at least this one) are no longer invested in Molly and Issa’s friendship. They clearly aren’t on the same page: Issa is frustrated because she’s the only one putting in effort, while Molly seems bothered that Issa hasn’t asked for an apology on bended knee. It’s crystal clear that the only reason we see these two (finally!) talking it out at the end is because both their relationships have hit the skids. Which is such a healthy foundation for a friendship to be rebuilt on.
Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) need to talk. (Photo from Wherever-i-look.com.)
June 7, 2020
On “Lowkey Trying,” tonight’s episode of Insecure, relationships are center stage — some on the verge of dissolving, others beginning anew. After last week’s dreamily romantic capsule episode, love is in the air. This episode opens with a blissful montage of Issa and Lawrence: kissing, sharing takeout, laughing at TV, having tons of sex. They gaze into each other’s eyes and work on laptops side by side.
Issa gets a text from Nathan while at Lawrence’s place. Issa tells Lawrence that she and Nathan used to date. Now they’re just friends. But he asked her to help him move into his new apartment. Painfully aware of the infidelity and hiding that ruined her relationships with Lawrence before, Issa decides to be upfront. She reveals the moving request to Lawrence. “But I don’t have to,” she offers, “if it makes you uncomfortable.” She clearly doesn’t want to risk repeating old patterns.
“I just want to be honest,” Issa says. “‘Cause I don’t wanna mess this up — whatever this is. What is it again?”
Lawrence answers the question with a question: “What do you want it to be?”
That question becomes even more salient later, when Issa goes to help Nathan move. At first, she awkwardly avoids any physical contact with Nathan. But after a few minutes, she fesses up about seeing Lawrence again. Nathan is visibly bruised. But he has something he needs to reveal, too. Issa finally learns why he ghosted her after Nathan reveals a life-altering diagnosis.
Meanwhile, Molly is back seeing her therapist, Dr. Rhonda. During the session, Molly rehashes the drama with Issa. Molly explains that she feels her relationships is stressful enough already without Issa complicating things further. Dr. Rhonda asks, “Is there anything you feel like you could’ve done differently?”
“Honestly… no,” Molly answers. “Issa was out of line.” Dr. Rhonda points out that the same could be said of Torian, Dro, and Molly’s father — all men. What’s clear is that Molly still A) still sees herself as blameless, with Issa totally in the wrong and B) apparently sees no problem with ruining the event that her best friend had worked for months on. (Reminder: when someone mistakenly thought Molly had a gun, the result was a near-stampede, with people running in terror from the block party like rats from a leaky boat.)
But her therapist correctly figures that Molly is more focused on being right than on her friend. Dr. Rhonda asks Molly, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be in relationships?” No answer. Then Dr. Rhonda follows up: “Does the relationship still serve you?” When Molly hesitates, she adds: “Let me put it another way: Do you want to do the work of repairing the relationship?” Molly has no answer. But just as she’s leaving therapy, she receives a voicemail from Issa. It’s a message inviting her to brunch.
At the diner, the two make awkward small talk, then slowly fall into familiar rhythms. Before long, they’re laughing and joking like before. Issa pays for brunch (“I probably owe you a decade of fringe”), and Molly accepts. They leave laughing. They hug at the end. But they never talk about their fight at the block party — the one that threatens to sever their friendship permanently.
Molly later describes the brunch as “superficial” to Andrew. He asks why Molly didn’t address the block party or her feelings about it. Molly answers, “I made myself open to whatever she had to say. What more was I supposed to do?” Andrew suggests meeting her halfway. “Obviously, I am on your side,” Andrew says, smartly tiptoeing around Molly’s feelings. “But I know you miss her.”
“The only person I miss is LaToya,” Molly shoots back, referring to the fictional mystery show “Looking for LaToya”. (Each season of Insecure features “a show within a show” that the characters are invested in.)
Andrew suggests she should’ve tried harder. A miffed Molly is further annoyed by Andrew telling her that his brother is back in town. He’s bought tickets for a Clippers game with Andrew and Molly “as a peace offering”, Andrew says. But Molly, still smarting from the tense argument in the pool on last month’s vacation, demurs.
“You should go,” she says. “I don’t want to get in the way of whatever you guys have going on.” That’s a flimsy pretext for the real issue: Molly doesn’t want to do the repair work with Andrew’s brother — or with any of her relationships. Andrew accepts the excuse and goes alone, but is clearly bothered. When Molly later comes home with Chinese food (instead of the Indian food he wanted), Andrew brings it up again. He tells her that it was awkward at the game without her, that his brother had invited them. Molly doesn’t get it. “You could at least try,” Andrew tells her, clearly annoyed.
Just then, Issa and Nathan show up to collect more of Nathan’s stuff. They end up staying for dinner. The result is an initially fun group night that turns awkward after a misplaced text. Outside the house, Molly and Issa have a tearful confrontation; they now face a painful crossroads in their friendship.
After last week’s capsule episode, which just focused on Issa and Lawrence, Insecure returns to the usual format. In this case, that means juggling multiple storylines at once. And this jam-packed episode (directed by Kerry Washington!) does so admirably. Written by Grace Edwards and Eli Wilson Pelton, the screenplay deftly balances developments in Issa’s relationship, and Molly’s, while simultaneously keeping focused on the frustrating, circular dynamic between Issa and Molly.
The result is a show about relationships — Issa and Lawrence’s budding new bond contrasts with Molly and Issa’s drain-circling friendship. Molly and Andrew’s increasingly complicated coupledom bleeds into Nathan’s lingering vibe with Issa. All those plotlines (and more) will come to a head on next Sunday’s season finale.
On “Lowkey Happy”, last night’s episode of Insecure, Lawrence (Jay Ellis) meets up with his ex Issa (Issa Rae) for drinks. He nervously waits for her to show up, anxiously popping a breath mint. Issa arrives and quickly takes a nasty fall onto the club floor. Once she recovers, she joins him at the bar, and Lawrence orders what he thinks is her favorite drink — prosecco with a splash of whiskey.
“That’s actually not my drink anymore,” Issa corrects him. Now it’s prosecco with a splash of vodka. “Let the record show, I’ve changed,” she tells Lawrence. (She has.) Lawrence apologizes for missing the block party that Issa organized and tells Issa he was in San Francisco for job interviews. “I just don’t wanna be afraid to move on,” he tells her.
“I heard about you and Condola,” Issa says, referencing his recent breakup. “I’m sorry.”
“We don’t gotta talk about that,” Lawrence interjects. He quickly changes the subject. “You know, I ran into Molly at the airport,” Lawrence says. “It was awkward.”
“That’s probably because we’re not friends anymore,” Issa says flatly.
At first, Lawrence laughs, taking the comment as a joke. It slowly dawns on him that Issa isn’t kidding. “For real?” he asks.
“Yeah,” Issa confirms. “We don’t speak.”
“Wow. I can’t imagine you and Molly not [being friends],” Lawrence says, as Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” begins playing. More people start to crowd into the bar and dance.
“What happened?” Lawrence asks.
“We don’t have to get into it,” Issa says tersely. “But you had something you wanted to talk to me about? What is it?”
The answer doesn’t come — they’re interrupted by a man ordering drinks in the increasingly crowded bar. They instead decide to meet at another place. Their Uber driver mistakes them for a couple, asking if they’re married.
“I tried,” Lawrence says. “I bought a ring.” Issa is caught off guard by this revelation, which she didn’t know about. Nor does she know what Lawrence needs to talk to her about. She tries to get answers at the Latin restaurant they go to next. But Lawrence stonewalls.
While they wait for a table, Lawrence sets a no-holds-barred agenda for the night: no walking on eggshells. No tiptoeing around sore subjects. “No eggshells,” he orders. “We know each other too well for that.” Issa accepts and presses Lawrence to say what he wanted to tell her. But his hesitance, and the arrival of the waiter, delay the big reveal.
They are further delayed by Lawrence’s difficulty deciding what to order. Issa grows impatient and takes charge, ordering the meal for them. Issa adds a whiskey neat for Lawrence (she knows his preferred drink). Issa effortlessly rattles off the order with what Lawrence calls “impressive” skill.
“Impress me with what you want to tell me,” Issa quips.
“I’ve been thinking about us,” Lawrence confesses, “and what would’ve happened if we stayed together. Sometimes I wonder, like, do I give up too easily on things?”
“It might be obvious,” Issa says, “but I do wish you hadn’t given up on us.”
They talk candidly about Lawrence’s slide into depression and unemployment towards the end of their five-year relationship. And Lawrence gets some clarity on Issa’s infidelity: her Season One affair with Daniel (Y’lan Noel) torpedoed the relationship for good. “Why Daniel?” he asks pointedly. “Or could it have been anyone?”
“No, not anyone,” Issa answers. She explains: “He just popped up and gave me attention, during a time when you weren’t. And it’s not an excuse, but… it just felt good to feel wanted, I guess.”
“Things were that bad between us?” Lawrence asks. (Obviously, yes.)
“Sometimes I used to drive around after work just to avoid coming home,” Issa reveals. “But I still wanted to be with you, not him. I just had a moment of weakness.” She later adds: “For an entire year, nothing I did could snap you out of what you were going through. You didn’t want to talk; you didn’t want to go out; you didn’t want to have sex. You didn’t want me, Lawrence.”
“It’s not that I didn’t want you,” Lawrence replies. “Just watching you get up and go to work was this daily reminder that I [had] nowhere to go. Nothing to do. And I thought about moving back home, but I know that would have just made me feel worse.” It’s a raw, honest, adult conversation that answers lingering questions.
The rest of the night unfolds like a date — witty banter and warm ribbing, unforced chemistry and easy conversation. The two visit the Art Walk in downtown L.A., and Issa reveals that she’s working on creating happiness for herself. “I’ve been waiting around, waiting for other stuff to make me happy,” she explains, “and I think that s–t is a choice.” She turns to Lawrence. “What about you? Are you happy?”
“Yeah, I think I’m getting there,” Lawrence answers. “I would say I’m pretty happy right now.”
Lawrence gets a call from Condola, who’s been calling/texting him all night. But he ignores it. “We’ve been talking, but I don’t know,” he tells Issa. “I’m not really sure what’s gonna happen between us.” That future becomes even more uncertain once Issa learns that Lawrence lives nearby.
Lawrence decides to show Issa his new apartment. Inside, she realizes that he still has their old couch. Issa asks if she can use the bathroom before she returns to the Lyft still waiting outside. While she’s gone, Lawrence goes outside and discreetly calls Condola back. “Sorry I didn’t get back to you,” he tells her. “I can still try to make it tonight. I’ll keep you posted.” But when Issa emerges from the bathroom, she realizes instantly what’s up.
“She wants to talk,” Lawrence explains. Issa takes the hint and starts to leave. But she stops at the door.
“What if I wanted to stay?” she asks. “I’m not ready for the night to end yet.”
“Tonight made me happy,” Lawrence admits.
“You make me happy,” Issa confesses.
This episode comes after what’s been a brutal week, especially for black people. Protests of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin continue to rock the country. In L.A., where the show is set and filmed, a weekend of protests turned violent. California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in the city and county of Los Angeles just before midnight Saturday, amid looting and freeway closures.
Nearly 1,200 protesters were arrested in Los Angeles County on Sunday. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told KTLA-TV that 700 people were arrested in the city of L.A. on Sunday. Los Angeles’ 6 pm curfew will last until 6 am Tuesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, “More than 400 people were arrested in Santa Monica on suspicion of crimes that included looting, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a police officer and curfew violations.”
Insecure actor Kendrick Sampson, who plays Nathan on the show, was hit by seven rubber bullets yesterday while protesting in L.A.
Cast member Natasha Rothwell, who wrote the episode and plays Kelli on the series, acknowledged the unrest across the country. She wrote on Twitter:
For this black man — angered by the killing of George Floyd, weary of both police violence and its news coverage — last night’s episode was like manna.
Cinematographer Ava Berkofsky, who directed, presents magical visuals — the cloud exhibit, that stunning blue/red light display — that immerse us in the scene. Natasha Rothwell’s masterful screenplay presents bracingly real reminders of why the couple failed: Issa’s infidelity, Lawrence’s stagnation. But her layered script also reminds us why these two worked in the first place: a shared sense of humor, natural conversation, lots of laughs. Jay Ellis and Issa Rae’s beautifully naturalistic performances make everything feel achingly real. In a season of good episodes, this may be Insecure‘s all-time best.
June 3, 2020
I do not make the above statement lightly. For months, I have felt that the Season Two finale, “Hella Perspective”, was a high-water mark that the show couldn’t possibly top. After weeks of distance (and a bitter fight outside a restaurant in the previous episode), Issa and Lawrence finally had the bracing, vulnerable, heart-tugging conversation that they’d needed to have all season. It was raw. It was real. It was glorious.
But “Lowkey Happy”, I think, is even better. From the screenplay to the cinematography, even down to Rae and Ellis’ terrific performances, this episode stood head and shoulders above many of its predecessors. And it came at a time when its dreamy, romantic vibes were desperately needed.
Throughout last weekend, I tried to unplug, to disconnect from the headlines that I’d lived in and written about throughout the week. But I still found myself drained and demoralized. Insecure brought me back to life. To see these two characters who obviously belong together (DON’T @ ME) FINALLY reconnect was great. But to see black people freely walking and talking, enjoying each other’s company, slowly falling in love all over again — in the age of coronavirus and virulent racism — was sensational.
One of the actors apparently thought so, too. Ellis told Vulture: “I read this script the night before the table read, and it felt like closure. It felt like love. It felt like friendship. It felt like soul mates. It felt like our show is so universal. There were just so many things about it that were absolutely amazing. I remember turning to Natasha and telling her, ‘I think you just wrote the most beautiful episode of this show ever’.”
In the first of a weekly series, tonight’s entry looks at “Lowkey Movin’ On”, the fifth episode of Issa Rae’s HBO series Insecure. Here’s a summary:
Issa’s block party is finally here — the event that she’s been working on for weeks. (And now she’s working on it without Condola — who ghosted her (because she and Lawrence broke up?!?). As the date approaches, Issa’s headliner Schoolboy Q drops out. She scrambles to find another artist, going through her contacts and calling them one by one. She asks Molly (Yvonne Orji) to help with that search by talking to Molly’s new boyfriend Andrew (Alexander Hodge) for connections. (He works at Live Nation, apparently, and would presumably know artists). Molly eventually refuses, saying that she wants to have “boundaries” in her professional and personal lives. (But why didn’t she run these “boundaries” past Andrew?)
Issa leverages her connections by going through Andrew’s roommate Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) to secure the headliner. But when Molly later finds out, she feels disrespected. And when she confronts Issa (at the event!), several weeks of miscommunications and misunderstandings build into an explosive fight.
I have questions.
Condola and Issa have been working on that project for months, but suddenly Condola dropped out because she and Lawrence broke up. (And she seemed surprised when Issa said she didn’t know about the breakup.) What does the breakup with Lawrence have to do with Condola working with Issa in professional contexts? And why would you show up at the event only to check in “with vendors”, as Condola claimed? To disappear on a project for weeks and then pop up for a perfunctory hello seems…unprofessional? Was ISSA the reason for the breakup?
What’s going on with Tiffany? She literally just had a baby daughter. She should be aglow with the joy of new motherhood. Instead sis is double-fisting martinis at a block party! And when her husband Derek went home to be with the baby (who wouldn’t stop crying), Tiffany CHOSE to stay and continue turning up. And did y’all hear her say “I only like her when she’s chill” about her own DAUGHTER? Something in the buttermilk ain’t clean.
Why is Kelli faking an accent to be with a man? Especially one who thinks that there are only two branches of government (and that one of them is Bank of America? (Who raised him?) And what accounts for that weird tension between Kelli and Issa’s brother?
Finally, I get why Molly was upset about Issa going behind her back to talk to Andrew. But Molly completely overreacted. Technically, Issa was doing what Molly asked (leaving her out of it) and was able to secure talent for her event. What is the issue? And why in the world would Molly confront her about it at the event? I would NEVER remain friends with someone who picked a fight with me at an event that I’d worked so hard to pull off. Especially if the fight (almost) turned physical.