Recap: the ‘Insecure’ Finale, What It Meant to Black Women

Love it or hate it, the final episode of Insecure has aired. Issa chose to be with Lawrence in a blended family in which they are raising his son, the one he conceived with Condola. As if you could forget, this is the baby that put their promising reunion on hold at the end of Season 4. Naturally, it’s a controversial ending. After all, Condola getting pregnant in the first place broke the hearts of the many fans who had been rooting for Issa and Lawrence all along. While I have never been rooting for an Issa and Lawrence reunion, I was not a fan of the “break baby” narrative either. So much so that I asked Insecure executive producer Amy Aniobi about it when season four ended.

One of the explanations she gave about Condola’s pregnancy then was ‘there’s still things from your past that can creep up and create difficult situations in your present. And even though we kind of threw a very big wrench in it with a pregnancy, that is a very big situation from the past that creates havoc in the present. Sorry, it just felt very real.’

It’s the “very real” part that grabbed us. Reflecting on Insecure’s impact and hold on us in anticipation of the series finale, EBONY’s own Savannah Taylor noted that the show “belonged to us in a way that a lot of mainstream TV shows have not—properly incorporating our vernacular and cultural norms in a tasteful yet authentic way that was true to form.”

And, as much as I hate to say it, Issa and Lawrence living together as an engaged couple—check the ring on her finger during her bathroom conversation with Molly in the series’ towards the episode’s end—is “true to form” for many. Speaking with DeadlineInsecure creator and star Issa Rae admitted that in the writers room for Season 5 she, herself, was dead against Lawrence and Issa being together. That changed, however, during shooting.

“When I became Issa Dee and we started shooting the show, there was just a part of me that really missed him and that wanted him,” she explained. “I realized that there was a happiness that she/I had with him, and I stand by the fact that they should have broken up in that first episode because Lawrence was going to be in a toxic, messy relationship and she was going to be wrapped up into all this.”

“But I am a firm believer that sometimes you need time, and if it’s right for you and you want it, then it can be yours.”

But, as programmed as we have been to sum up this journey by mainly focusing on ending up with our person romantically—like Issa choosing Lawrence, Molly marrying Taurean, Kelli finding a man and having a baby, and Tiffany sticking with Derek in Denver and having baby number two—what melted the hearts of true fans was the spotlight on our #BlackGirlMagic friendships, through the ups and downs, thick and thin, that true ride-or-die love. 

“Molly and Issa broke up and got back together stronger than ever. I love that for black women!” tweeted Joya T., @YoJtenniel.

“The beautiful thing about solid friendships is knowing that no matter what direction you both/all take, the friendship is the staple part of you,” shared Celestina Diamond, @cecediamond, in a tweet.

We felt that love in the scene where Issa helps Molly take her wedding dress off, and Molly says, “Thank you so much Issa for everything…..Just for being you, for loving me while I was me. And girl, I don’t know where life is going to take us but I just know as long as you’re around, I’m going to be okay.”

Another thing that was priceless was the finale’s acknowledgment of the subtle ways in which we maintain our friendships and connections to one another as those other relationships begin to consume us and all our time. Physically gathering for our birthdays or making sure that we never forget to make that call—as Molly did for Issa on a break during her Greek vacation with her husband—is really the glue that puts so many of us back together again.

Or, the birthday call scene when Molly asks Issa, “when did sh*t get so real?” Issa’s reply of “I don’t know. I feel like our friendships just got hard all of the sudden. Stuff just keeps happening. Between work shit, family,” with Molly chiming in, “girl life,” we know exactly what they mean. That’s why that call from Molly from Greece means even more in the end. 

Rae, reflecting on the 90s shows that shaped her and that she fond memories of, said to me back in October, “I want that for our show. I want people to remember [that] time in their lives fondly, or very specifically, and to hold us with their own growth—to take the show into their lives as a part of their own personal experiences in their own journeys.”

So whether you love or hate Lawrence and Issa being together at the end, the one thing not up for debate is whether or not Issa Rae, the show’s visionary in chief, understood the assignment for the culture. By showing us as who we are—living our lives in the Crenshaws and Inglewoods of America; styling in our Black designer wares; and rocking our hair in its ‘oh so amazing natural state,’ she nailed it. And, as chronicled in the show’s documentary Insecure: The End, forever changed the rules of how we, as Black women, can see ourselves—our true messy, beautiful selves—on TV and in real life. To evoke Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal women. That’s we.” 

Ronda Racha Penrice is the author of Black American History For Dummies, available now, and Cracking The Wire During Black Lives Matterout January 25

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