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Monday, December 6th, 2021  

Insecure (Season Five)

HBO, October 24, 2021

Oct 24, 2021 Photography by Glen Wilson/HBO Web Exclusive
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To put it in Insecure parlance: Back. At. It!

At the end of Insecure’s last season, Issa (Issa Rae, star and co-creator) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) seemed doomed to ex-friend-dom. On the satisfying Season 5 premiere, TV’s most riveting duo are in the midst of slowly mending ties.

Los Angeles serves as a main character on the show, but the Bay Area is the backdrop on this episode. It’s a jarring change that leaves you pining for the LA panorama, often shown in overhead pans of its sprawls and pretzeled overpasses that immerse you in the setting, even as your curiosity is roused by this new locale.

The squad—rounded out by perpetual scene stealer Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) and Tiffany (Amanda Seales)—makes the most of this weekend getaway. From the reemergence of old flames, to falling prey to a crime, along with dabbling in both booze and nostalgia, this is a deliciously plot-packed episode.

During a key scene Molly asks how Kelli and Tiffany repaired their rifts, Kelli advises her to bide her time. That wisdom seems more characteristic of Rothwell’s lauded turn as a zen masseuse on this summer’s breakout hit The White Lotus, rather than the deliriously loopy Kelli. Thankfully, in typical Kelli fashion, she’s fake-laughing at Tiffany’s lame one-liners in no time, before balking at an erroneous memorial at the foursome’s Stanford university reunion.

It’s Molly’s outreach to Issa after a botched panel appearance that lives up to the mythology of Rae’s web series Awkward Black Girl, a pre-cursor of sorts to Insecure. Cynics may gripe that more time should have elapsed, and more drama should’ve ensued, before the pair began reconciling, especially given their multiple blow ups last year.

But that wouldn’t be in keeping with Insecure’s ethos. After all, this is the series that inspired Lawrence and Issa hives. in Season 1 when she cheated on him after he tried to get his act together—not while he was jobless, depressed and couch-bound. This shows Insecure’s understanding of the messy nuances of relationships, the nonlinear effects of actions and intentions, and the old adage about rivers not freezing over in a day. Issa and Molly rekindling their friendship, and navigating numerous shades of grey therein, explore this series’ rich depths.

The premiere also packs a punch when Kelli claps back at her friends for laughing at her antics, which have evolved past the occasionally cartoonish foolishness that made her a fan favorite, at the same time limiting her character’s depth. Molly’s attempts to “get grown” will leave Insecure fans beaming with pride.

There’s a cameo from Issa’s Mirror Bitch alter ego that’s not only laced with laughs, but also subtly reveals plenty of character development. Rae and the writers have come a long way by showing how their characters have done the same, making “Reunited, Okay?!” a welcome return for one of TV’s most deftly penned and performed series. (www.hbo.com/insecure)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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