By Bethonie Butler
The Washington Post
HBO’s “Insecure” returned last Sunday night with an opening scene that had Team Daniel cheering -- that is, until they realized Daniel’s lady friend was decidedly not Issa. Awkward. But remember, this is why we’re here.
The Season 3 premiere, written by Issa Rae and directed by showrunner Prentice Penny, followed Issa at what may be her lowest point yet -- languishing at work, struggling financially and surfing on her music producer ex’s couch. The good news is that Issa’s uncomfortable living arrangements gave way to an interesting plot development: she’s trying to make extra cash as a Lyft driver. In other words, Issa carpool!
Molly is faring a lot better professionally -- we first caught up with her at the end of a relaxing and expensive-looking vacation -- but she’s still got an unresolved situation with Dro, her BFF-turned-lover. Molly isn’t exactly ready to end things, but she’s also not totally comfortable with Dro’s open marriage. So the episode revolved around her trying to establish boundaries, which didn’t end so well.
Here are some of the episode’s biggest takeaways:
Daniel and Issa are definitely not over.
Lawrence may be officially out of Issa’s life (fan petition notwithstanding), but our girl’s got some serious tension with Daniel (Y’lan Noel). After the episode’s awkward intro and a dodged kiss, Issa drew a line in the sand (“I just think we know better.” ) and tried to make the cohabitation situation a bit more bearable by asking Daniel to give her a heads up should he decide to entertain a date at his place. Daniel did just that, but wasn’t as considerate when it came to letting her know it was safe to come back home. That led to Issa using her side-hustle as a way to occupy the time. (We’ll get back to that.)
By the end of the episode, it was clear that both Issa and Daniel are struggling with their feelings for one another. Daniel added insult to injury, telling Issa she had the place to herself and ending things with this brutal line: “See you later, roommate.”
Molly and Dro might be.
We know -- they probably aren’t. But maybe these two should call it quits after that fight at the end of the episode when Molly referred to Dro’s open marriage as “messy” and he shot back: “Don’t talk about what me and my wife do.”
Molly has a valid point about not wanting to be at the beck and call of someone who will always prioritize his wife over her. But considering their history (and how often they have gotten back together in the past) we’re pretty sure this relationship is going to continue. Also, maybe Molly shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss vacation bae or her Chicago-based colleague Quentin (Lil Rel Howery).
Things are pretty bleak at We Got Ya’ll.
Issa’s career took a hit last season when her boss, Joanne, found out she had overlooked the racial bias of a principal whose school participated in We Got Ya’ll’s program for low-income youth. Issa’s no longer working in the field, and has to take direction from her recently promoted colleague, Frieda.
When Issa tried to take initiative and get valuable feedback from schools that decided to no longer participate in the well-meaning but unbelievably tone-deaf program, it backfired. “You keep overstepping your bounds,” Joanne told her.
Issa’s job has always been the source of some of the show’s best material -- an authentic, often raw look at what it’s like to be the only black person at an organization, and it seems like this season will put those themes into overdrive.
It’s hard out here for a Lyft driver.
Issa’s self-proclaimed “party Lyft” made for some of the episode’s best scenes as she dragged Molly along for several entertaining rides -- among them two young, club-bound women who said in their review that Issa “reminded them of their Auntie,” and Nathan, a handsome transplant in search of a good meal.
In addition to having a passenger throw up in her car, Issa also had a full-on fight break out between Nathan and another passenger, who attempted to smoke marijuana in her car and had the nerve to ask for two Capri Sun pouches.
At least she got a $50 tip.
There’s a new show-within-a-show. And it’s pretty great.
Move over “Conjugal Visits” and “Due North,” “Insecure” has a new show-within-a-show: a clear parody of “Living Single,” starring Erika Alexander, who played Maxine on the cult-favorite Fox sitcom, Bill Bellamy and Darryl Bell, of “A Different World” fame.
Leave it to Issa Rae to give some much-needed reboot love to black ’90s sitcoms.