Series title: Insecure
Written by: Issa Rae
Starring: Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis.
Release Date: Available Now
According to the American Census, African-Americans make up 13% of the US population but the representation of black culture in TV has been lacking. The rare appearances of black characters have either been worn-out stereotypes such as criminals and “sassy” friends, or characters with no distinction from their white counterparts. The main reason is obvious: most creators, producers, and writers have been white and had little insight into the unique experiences of real black people.
Thankfully, the tide is turning, and more diverse production teams are leading to more authentic representation. One prime example of this is the HBO comedy series Insecure. Created, written by and starring Issa Rae, best known for her Awkward Black Girl web series.
Insecure, now in its second season, follows the experiences of two black women living in LA, along with their friends, colleagues and love interests. Many of the themes, such as navigating Tinder dates and dealing with office drama, are relatable regardless of race.
What distinguishes Insecure from your standard millennial sitcom is the incredible insight into modern black culture. From the natural use of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) to the honest portrayal of the characters’ hopes and motivations, the difference between this and other shows is striking.
The show allows itself to remain consistently positive, and the weight of inequality that the characters experience is treated with an element of irony and satire. This contrasts with other shows like Orange is the New Black or Dear White People, where the similarity to reality can be bleak at times. At its core, Insecure is a comedy, not a political statement.
That’s not to say that the struggles of black Americans are glossed over. Issues such as racial discrimination, the fetishisation of black culture, and the impact of police brutality are all explored, particularly in the second season. However, instead of focusing exclusively on these dark themes, Insecure simply portrays them as a part of everyday life for its characters, which makes enough of a point about the state of American society.
At its core, Insecure is a comedy, not a political statement.
As a show, the witty dialogue and skillfully written situational comedy of Insecure will make you laugh as much as it makes you think. It also sets the standard for the depiction of black people as living, multi-faceted humans, who are as varied and complex as the thousands of white characters that have been hogging the small screen for decades.
In a nutshell: A thought-provoking comedy that provides as many insights as laughs.