All season long, Insecure has built toward breakdowns and breakthroughs for each of its leading characters. The messy configuration of their actions and misguided beliefs come back to haunt them in unique ways in “Hella Disrespectful.” The fallout witnessed in this episode is definitely earned, but there are a few emotional turns I completely don’t buy that undercut the intensity of those moments. Of course, that doesn’t mean the penultimate episode of this season, directed by Kevin Bray and written by Prentice Penny, doesn’t have its pleasures.
The centerpiece of “Hella Disrespectful” is Derek’s fancy, intimate birthday dinner organized by Tiffany, who is doing the absolute most this week. It’s obviously a powder keg of a situation given the guest list and where everyone is emotionally. The episode opens with Molly and Issa midway through a heated conversation about what happened with Daniel. Or at least Molly is very heated, suggesting they roll up to his place with eggs in a water gun they can spray in his face. I don’t know how you can get eggs in a water gun, but Issa appreciates Molly’s gusto even though it’s clear she’s more depressed over the situation than angry. “I let him embarrass me,” she says. I don’t think getting a facial is embarrassing and I still think the tenor of Issa’s reaction is odd, but we’ll get back to Daniel in a moment. During their phone call, Molly tepidly admits that she’s still screwing around with Dro, which Issa can clearly still see is a bad idea.
To make matters worse for Issa, she will have to face Lawrence at the dinner since Tiffany springs on her last minute via text that he’s invited. That’s something Molly also didn’t know, proving how deeply self-centered Tiffany is when it comes to curating her life without care for the ripple effects. Lawrence attending the dinner is already a mistake waiting to happen, but “Hella Disrespectful” heaps even more emotional trauma Issa’s way as he decides to bring a date.
Remember that tension between Lawrence and Aparna in last week’s episode? Well, they’ve graduated from mild flirtation to that nebulous “hanging out” phase of dating. When Lawrence realizes that the birthday dinner contradicts with drink plans he had with Aparna, he decides to invite her. Hold up. Let’s break down all the ways this a mess. First off, I do not even slightly buy this romantic turn between Aparna and Lawrence especially since don’t have that kind of chemistry. Secondly, Lawrence keeps making decisions that show such little forethought, it’s astounding he doesn’t get into more trouble. Getting romantically entangled with a co-worker isn’t a good idea. Lastly, Lawrence knows Tiffany and Derek through Issa, which makes his decision to bring a plus-one rude and an obvious hit toward his ex, even if he doesn’t realize that. But having to face Lawrence isn’t the only problem overshadowing this dinner for Issa.
When Daniel calls Issa, she actually picks up to hear his apology. It’s an uncomfortable conversation as he begs for forgiveness and she extolls all the reasons why she was so hurt by him cumming on her face. The apology takes a left turn when Daniel admits, “I guess we’re even now.” Issa rightfully gets angry at the idea he purposely gave her a facial as some sort of revenge because of her past messiness. This sort of admission is not something you can come back from. Despite their easygoing chemistry and the history between them, I can’t see Issa ever deciding to be with Daniel again. I have several issues with this development. I don’t put it past a man being inconsiderate and even petty as some long-game vengeance tactic. But there’s a cruelty to this action on Daniel’s part (especially considering how hurt he saw Issa was) that doesn’t track with his character at all. It seems like such an out-of-character move for Daniel, all while it sidesteps potential commentary about what women have to put up with and the trickiness of casual situations in modern dating.
Also, are revenge facials a thing? How would that be on purpose? Earlier, Molly mentioned to Issa, “Niggas watching PornHub and think they can do this shit in real life.” Sure, that’s true. But the mechanics of the scene in question and the fallout continue to feel like a regressive conversation about black women’s sexuality as well as an undercutting of the show’s typically stellar character beats. Ultimately, it’s the kind of writing that forces characters to act in ways that don’t fully align with how they’ve been developed in order to fit plot demands.
With all this drama in the air, it isn’t surprising that Derek’s dinner is a fraught affair. Molly is exceedingly awkward around Candice as they struggle to make small talk. This is the first time they’re seeing each other since Molly started her fling with Dro. I still have questions about the nature of Dro and Candice’s relationship, despite all his assurances to Molly. Of course, this isn’t just a casual hookup for Molly. Given her long history with Dro, she’s definitely caught some romantic feelings for him. She feels especially sidelined during the dinner, given she’s the only one who came solo: Kelli has Sweetie, Issa at least has her brother as a buffer, but Molly is alone. Her efforts to be included in conversations and nervousness capture how painful it can be to be single as you witness the happiness of your friends.
Molly later goes to Dro when he’s heading to the bathroom to admit how she’s feeling. “Seeing you two … the way you are with her,” she trails off. Dro comforts her by saying, “We have something too.” He also comforts her by having sex in the bathroom. When he tells her to hang back so he can leave the bathroom before her in order not to arouse suspicion from their friends at the dinner table, Molly looks crestfallen. She needs this to be more than it ever will be. Molly finally answers her mother’s call, which crystallizes this truth for her. She ends the episode responding to Dro’s text about meeting the following week by putting a stop to things. “I can’t do this anymore,” she texts. Finally. I hope this decision sticks.
Still, it’s Issa who has the most severe turmoil. If she felt anxious about seeing Lawrence, watching him walk into the dinner with Aparna on his arm pushes her off the edge. I had the same reaction as Kelli did: “No, this nigga didn’t.” Having everyone awkwardly scoot down to make room for Aparna is only the start of this train wreck. Issa starts downing whiskey to cope. As if that’s not enough, Tiffany and Derek are parading their picture-perfect marriage around in the middle of everything. We’ve gotten hints of issues between them, but they seem to be doing far better than anyone else at the table. Except for Kelli, of course, who continues to live her best life.
Issa eventually has enough and leaves the dinner. Lawrence decides to follow, but he doesn’t apologize for bringing Aparna knowing that was a bad idea. Instead, they get into a bitter argument that dredges up past hurts. He calls her a “jump off” to Daniel. She brings up his failed app with malice. He asks whom else she was screwing around with during their relationship. It’s next-level nasty — but it also leads to the most emotionally honest moment in the episode. “Was it all worth that time I spent supporting your depressed ass?” Issa asks. “Probably not as much time as you spent being a fucking ho,” Lawrence responds. Damn.
Everyone has a breaking point and Issa has officially reached hers. When she gets home, she lays waste to her apartment. Throwing chairs, wine bottles, turning over the table. It’s cathartic. But the problem with living alone and pulling a move like this is that you have to clean it up. Did Vivica A. Fox teach us nothing in Two Can Play That Game? On a serious note, Issa and Molly have been through a gauntlet of heartbreaking incidents recently. The table is cleared for them to start anew. Will the finale show them rebuilding their lives in healthier ways, or will they wind up making the same old mistakes?
• I loved Issa’s shirt with Cam’ron in his pink mink coat.
• Given Molly’s rapport with her co-worker Clinton and frequent trips to Chicago, I think the series may be setting up a romantic turn for their friendship.
• Issa makes up with Frieda when she gives suggestions about increasing the Latino attendance at the school where they work for We Got Y’all. It’s all brought about by sitting next to one of the Latino students on the bus and realizing Vice-Principal Gaines is actively turning Latino students away. Frieda and Issa eventually confront Gaines to no avail, but at least Issa’s tension at work is over.
• Kelli has some of the best lines of the night. My favorite is when she tells Issa’s brother, “When you die, I’m going to dance.”
• Tiffany gets on my nerves. Her line about hoping for one of the Inglewood foreclosures to stick so she can nab the property felt tone-deaf and cruel. She’s obviously a caricature of a certain kind of bougie, privileged black girl who can’t see beyond her own immediate satisfaction.