At its core, HBO’s “Insecure” has always been about the joys and pangs of navigating young adulthood. The first two seasons settled upon a recurring theme of characters exhibiting poor or misguided judgment calibrated to inspire viewer bafflement and irritation. Recall Molly (Yvonne Orji), who has always been rigid and moderately old-fashioned in her approach to dating, switching gears to hook up with her friend Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson), who is ostensibly in an open marriage. Or that moment when Issa (Issa Rae), upset after a terrible fight with Lawrence, tears up her apartment right before she has to move out. (She’s already in dire financial straits — shouldn’t she be at least a little concerned about getting some of her security deposit back?)
Following the Season 3 premiere on Sunday, it’s clear that even as things have changed — fare thee well, Lawrence — plenty has not. The show still revels in the discomfort of watching Issa, Molly and others make questionable life choices, as well as the small relief that comes when they succeed at even the most minor interactions.
So this season I’ll assess each episode according to the “Insecure” Bad Decision Index: Who’s spinning their wheels? Who’s learning from their mistakes? Let’s find out.
When we last left Issa, her job at We Got Y’all was on the line based on a decision she made that left the organization, which provides after-school services to underserved youth, open to a lawsuit. Plus, she was broke. In Sunday’s Season 3 premiere, titled “Better-Like,” this is mostly still the case, except now Issa has taken on a new side hustle: Lyft driver. (Hello there, sweet product placement money.) This is wise, a step toward saving money so she can finally find an apartment to rent on her own. She’s even trying her best to be in good spirits, inviting Molly to keep her company and turning the car into a “party Lyft.” (In typical “Insecure” fashion, the party is hot until it isn’t — a physical confrontation between two passengers in the back seat leaves Issa and Molly mortified. That situation was largely out of her control, though.)
At We Got Y’all, Issa is trying to get back in the good graces of Joanne (Catherine Curtin), her boss. They’ve been losing clients, and Issa takes the initiative to contact several schools to inquire why they are no longer partnering with them. The feedback is harsh, but reveals what Issa has quietly felt all along: We Got Y’all’s approach to serving low-income and at-risk youth is ill-conceived and borderline racist. (It’s great to see someone finally call out the program’s name, which reminds me of those 1970s McDonald’s ads that used corny slang to target black customers.)
When it comes to her love life, or lack thereof, Issa’s doing better than we’re used to seeing. While her decision to crash at Daniel’s (Y’lan Noel) apartment last season remains a terrible, horrible, no good very bad idea, she pulls away from his attempt to kiss her during a flirtatious moment: “I don’t think we should do this. I just think we know better.” Yes, Issa! You do know better!
And yet — the two have too much unresolved history for things to stay neutral between them while Issa is sleeping on his couch, and she admits she still has feelings for him.
Growth: +4, for initiative at work and pumping the brakes on Daniel.
Spinning Wheels: -1, for remaining at Daniel’s apartment.
Final Score: 3
Molly has decided to take the new job at the all-black law firm, as we learn at the start of this episode. She’s successfully negotiated her benefits — a boss move, though an unsurprising one coming from her. Even when she’s been frustrated or exceptionally challenged at work, she’s always managed to figure out how to turn a bad situation into a win.
But Dro is still in the picture. No matter how many times we’ve seen her look hurt or bothered by the fact that he’ll never be able to give her what she’s really looking for — a committed relationship — she still gives in to his smooth talk and tall, muscular build. The first couple of times, I get it. She was trying to be open-minded, and that’s great! But Molly is an experienced thirtysomething woman, not a fresh-faced college student, and as soon as she recognized that this arrangement wasn’t fulfilling, that should have been the end of that.
Which is why it’s a minor relief when she gives Dro an ultimatum: Either they go back to being just friends — no sex — or they become “acquaintances” who only mess around. He chooses acquaintances, though neither scenario seems plausible, given their history.
Of course, not much time passes before Dro is inviting her out for celebratory drinks and Molly gives in and agrees — bad idea. Perhaps it’s a good thing Issa’s party Lyft fiasco derails her meeting with Dro. When he shows up, unannounced, waiting for her in her kitchen, it seems like it could be the last straw, and she demands her key back. But we’ve been here before — this may or may not be over for good.
Growth: +2, for setting boundaries (and then setting them again by demanding that key back).
Spinning Wheels: -2, for agreeing to hang out with Dro after the initial setting of said boundaries.
Final Score: 0
Oh, Daniel. It’s good of him to let Issa crash at his place, except that he’s kind of a terrible roommate. His extremely loud hookups with other women (noisy enough for Issa to hear while she tries to sleep on the couch in the other room) are inconsiderate, and probably an attempt at making her jealous. It also makes things that much more awkward for both of them, which makes for great TV, but a miserable existence for the characters.
Spinning Wheels: -2 for playing with fire (and a heart) when it comes to Issa.
Final Score: -2
Worst Decision Maker of the Week: Daniel.
Honorable Mention: Dro, for being creepy and not respecting Molly’s feelings. (Though I’m glad the show finally confirmed that Dro’s wife does indeed know about him and Molly, and is ostensibly fine with it.)