Insecure Recap: The Morning After

Issa Rae as Issa Dee. Photo: HBO


Guilty As F--k Season 1 Episode 6
Editor's Rating 4 stars

On that brutal day when Lawrence finally finds out Issa slept with Daniel, he’ll turn it over in his mind and keep coming back to breakfast. “It’s all so … new,” he says upon waking up to a breakfast spread that would be the envy of most moderately priced business-travel hotels. Lawrence can sense something isn’t quite right, but he can’t put words to it, so he’s happy to accept Issa’s explanation that it’s a more formal thanks for his elimination of the infernal “Broken Pussy” video. And maybe I’m projecting my love of breakfast onto this interpretation, but man, Lawrence is going to be pissed when he finds out he was eating a fruit medley born of betrayal. Pork bacon dripping with salty lies. Blueberry shame waffles, each one studded with golden-brown crannies to hide secrets in. It’s never the crime, it’s always the cover-up.

“Guilty As F–k” chronicles Issa’s every awkward attempt to move past her studio tryst with Daniel, only to stumble over her guilt again and again. But Issa keeps trying, as does Lawrence, and there aren’t many stories out there about long-term relationships between young, unmarried people who are totally devoted to each other. Given how often Insecure toys with fantasy, it should have been much, much easier to figure out that the opening scene is a dream sequence. But the scene is played subtly at first, with Issa struggling to find the language as Lawrence grows anxious, and it’s easy to believe that Issa’s reaction would be to immediately tell him everything. It’s not until Lawrence backhands her and says he’ll be no woman’s Russell Wilson, which … ouch. (Is that really how some people see Ciara? As Future’s damaged goods? Another conversation for another time.)

After glimpsing the darkest possible version of her confession, Issa compartmentalizes as best she can and goes about trying to work off the debt. She makes blueberry shame waffles with all the trimmings, then suggests they go out for a date night. Meanwhile, Issa won’t even acknowledge Daniel when he follows up with her. The real twist of the knife comes when, after leaving the movies, Lawrence suggests they duck into a jewelry store, then asks to try on a ring that shows he’s put some thought into proposing one day. Like nearly every interaction with Lawrence, it triggers a bittersweet flashback to a night of passion with Daniel.

Insecure is written so evenhandedly, it’s really difficult to take sides with Lawrence and Issa. I just want to nudge them in the right direction, which is why I was relieved to see a supportive and nonjudgmental Molly tell Issa to keep her mouth shut about the whole filthy affair. It’s obvious that Issa is repentant and simply had a moment of weakness that has passed. Sometimes it takes crossing the line to understand why the line is there to begin with, and while confessing her sin to Lawrence might temporarily relieve Issa’s agony, it would create more problems than it would solve. It would also be selfish. The weight of Issa’s mistake is hers to bear, and the only outward manifestation of her remorse should be the one that pairs well with Mrs. Butterworth’s.

Besides showing how good a friend she is, this level-headed suggestion also shows that Molly is just like the rest of us: great at giving advice, terrible at taking it. I’m actually beginning to turn on Molly based on her latest romantic panic attack, this time with Rent-A-Boo. Following her drunken disaster of a date the night before, Molly stumbled over to Jared’s place, and he’s enough of a mensch to let her sleep on his couch. The next morning, he calls her out on her behavior, she apologizes, and it’s all makeup sex and Cookie Crisp. And isn’t that what everyone wants at the end of the day? A person to laugh with, have spontaneous (and vertical) sex with, and enjoy marginally nutritive novelty cereal with?

Jared seems to have it all, including the right balance of backbone. He grants Molly a wide berth, but won’t hesitate to draw boundaries when it’s necessary. He’s also emotionally transparent, which becomes a liability when he and Molly play an ill-advised game of chicken with adventurous sex stories. Molly cops to the perfunctory lesbian tryst in undergrad, so Jared counters with a similar story of hasty fellatio after a night of drinking. One time. Years ago. It wasn’t his thing. But Molly can’t let it go, so despite getting plenty of good advice to treat the confession as a small dent in an otherwise top-of-the-line Rent-A-Boo, she drops him yet again. I’m trying to see where Molly is coming from, but I honestly don’t understand — even as I concede that many women might react the same way.

I’ll keep trying to be patient with Molly, though. Any show that strives for an honest depiction of dating as a young person will be rife with confounding choices. Molly has no idea what she wants, and unlike Issa, she doesn’t even have a baseline to compare her dates against. She’s bound to make mistakes along the way, but both Molly and Issa make those mistakes in good faith. A prime example is Issa’s decision to keep her infidelity to herself, only for him to find a suspicious text from Daniel on her phone. Busted.

Insecure Recap: The Morning After