Insecure – The Unruly Waters of Adulthood on the Small Screen

Have you already watched Insecure? If not, what are you waiting for?

How do you imagine life after 25? Brunches, lunches, and a strong friend group you can always count on? A steady job, a big wedding, a couple of kids and a white picket fence? Whatever it was you pictured, chances are it was along the lines of a clean cut future. After all, the path you should take in your adult life seems simple and straightforward when you’re a kid. 

Yet, here we are, many of us on a completely different playing field than we ever could have predicted when we were younger, not sure where to go next, what our dreams are anymore or even what’s going happen to us once we make a turn on the next corner.

It might seem scary. In a lot of ways, it’s anxiety inducing and off the rails. However, as it turns out, we’re not alone in this mess and HBO’s Insecure is here to tell us that it’s alright. 

When Issa Rae’s TV show premiered in October of 2016, we, the audience, didn’t know what was in store for us. After an array of seemingly similar shows, such as Sex and the City and 2 Broke Girls, we expected another light, contemporary comedy about the struggles of young women in the big, big world. In some ways, Insecure delivered on this premise. In others, it was a ground changing piece of televised fiction that will stay with us for a very long time.

In the spirit of Girls, Broad City and Black-ish, this modern drama brought to us a mishmash of realism, romance, friendships and actual struggle. Together with its predecessors, it paved a way for a new type of sit-com – one that doesn’t shy away from the messy parts as much as it gives the public a lot of opportunities for cathartic relief with its clever jokes and more than a handful of good laughs.

Throughout all its five seasons, with the last and most recent one having finished airing only recently, on the 26th of December 2021, Insecure followed Issa (loosely based on and portrayed by Rae herself) during her awkward, painful, and funny experiences as a 20-something African-American woman living in Los Angeles.

Starting from episode one, we quickly got introduced to her long-term boyfriend Lawrence she might be falling out of love with, to her stubborn best friend Molly, who in many ways shares the same social background as our main character, and a whole parthenon of other protagonists, some likeable, some not so much, who surround Issa on a daily basis. 

While the show doesn’t lack in racy scenes of a modern-day life, it’s the interpersonal relationships that kept us coming back to Insecure week after week after week. Rae’s talent of making us care for her characters paired well with the honest tone of the programme and it’s relatability to everyone, especially millennials. 

For half a decade, we got to follow a woman, her friends and her love interests going through the same things we’ve experienced as well at one point or the other. We were happy for her when she got what she wanted, we rooted for to take her career more seriously and when her heart was broken, only few of us were left without tears in our eyes.

While Insecure isn’t directly a show about race, it doesn’t shy away from being political. On the contrary – it does so in a smart and thought provoking manner, capturing the nuances of racial inequality in America and what it does to individuals, groups, and communities of people. 

Issa Rae writes black men and women differently than what we’re used to seeing on other channels. They breathe, walk and talk as real people with real problems do and the attention they demand is not different from the one we would give to flesh and blood humans we might meet in reality.

The constant growth and change of the protagonists, while still remembering who they were at their core, made the experience of watching Insecure similar to the one you’d have reading a well-paced novel with fleshed out characters, each on their own journeys to maturity. In the end, after 44 episodes and hours upon hours we got to share with them, we got a sense of completion and satisfaction we don’t often experience in television today.

At it’s heart, Insecure is a program about growing up as much as it is a about finding out who you are and what you want in life. Most of the time, it’s a TV show that tells us that happiness comes in different shapes and forms everyone, and, just because looking from the outside some decisions we make might not agree with the majority, at the end of the day it’s important that we’re the ones feeling content in what we chose. In television, as much as in reality, there is no right or wrong. There is only what is right for us – and Insecure captures this spirit perfectly. 


Editorial credit: Picturesque Japan /

There are plenty of good television shows available now on streaming platforms, like this one.

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