Insecure Season 4 Finale! — It’s been an emotional rollercoaster
In the Kenyan high school literature and fasihi 8–4–4 curriculum, students go through a series of books that are dubbed “set books”, these are books chosen for the last two years of high school to be studied for the final national examination. The books are in both Kiswahili and English , our two national languages and they range from plays/tamthilia, novel/riwaya and short stories/ hadithi fupi. Among the selection there is normally one compulsory book and a school can choose from the selected options based on what suits them. All these books will be examined and a student has a “variety” to choose from.
Why this short history? What was key in this literature and fasihi classes, is one should be able to describe at least the main characters of the books and also identify key themes and be able to discuss them with supporting evidence throughout the texts. So this short history was my pre-amble on how I want to discuss the Insecure characters, the ones of interest to me, Issa and Molly , what I like about them, what I found interesting and some of the themes I observed throughout the series and in particular season 4. It’s been two weeks since the finale so this is also my way of debriefing(you know how it is when a series ends and you no longer know what to do with yourself?) — that feeling is what has spurred me to write.
A good friend, self- aware, stellar cultural curator and event organizer
Issa is obviously one of the main characters and she is literally at the centre of everything happening in the show. I like that despite her break-up with Lawrence, they were able to develop her character beyond that relationship. I write this knowing that , society has normalized not talking about women’s lives beyond their romantic relations with men in particular. She is quite self -aware, and this trait has actually developed over time. Her self-awareness allowed her to navigate working at “We got y’all” where she was constantly experiencing racist micro-agressions. She was aware of her capabilities, what knowledge and skills she wanted to impact the kids with. Her mirror conversations , which were really inside her head conversations were a good let out to deal with the microaggressions. She chose her battles at the workplace wisely. It takes some self-awareness to be able to understand the environment in which you operate in and how it relates to you in order to have the best outcomes for yourself in a situation. I particularly liked how she navigated handling the successful fundraising she organized for We got y’all and the first community service to the beach despite the back handed comments from her white colleagues. These skills were later showcased when she curated and fundraised for the block party, her biggest project yet. It was evident to me that Issa is a good event curator, organizer and she naturally navigated to such roles regardless of the workplace. Her mother affirmed this to her as well later on in the season, a conversation that provided her with a sense of grounding or energy to keep going. Issa is also a good friend, amidst her awkwardness and not having a stable income as her other friends, she tries to show up and be present. She obviously has her pitfalls, one of them being not really thinking through about her friendship boundaries with Molly. In a certain facebook group the heated discussions after the block party argument Issa had with Molly and it felt like Molly was being judged harshly for this moment only. I also considered that moment as it were, Issa didn’t deserve the lashing at the party, but in truth I recalled that in the earlier seasons she requested Molly to ask Jared whom they weren’t clearly dating to do her another favour. It was clear Molly was uncomfortable about this request but she did it anyway. So Molly’s reaction at the block party was not entirely from a vacuum. Their relationship is something I am rooting for and I hope that this is one of the things they will develop for Issa’s character as part of her honesty, vulnerability and overall growth path. One other thing Issa hasn’t quite mustered is communication especially with her girlfriends in an open and honest manner, she masks a lot of conversations with jokes and humour. This hasn’t served her well even when trying to resolve issues with Molly. She has however mustered this towards the end of season 4 while dealing with Nathan and Lawrence, she seemed to have reduced the humour and in between spoke directly and honestly about what she is feeling and what she wants.
Granted that she has always second guessed herself on so many things, which I could attribute to her cheating incident that probably made her think she doesn’t deserve another good relationship and her work at We got y’all which was unfulfilling, the season finale episode had me thinking that she has improved a great deal. Her undefined situation with Nathan and now being on good terms with Lawrence had her calling Kellie and Ahmal for advice on how to navigate it. But when Ahmal proves to be unhelpful ,Kellie is unreachable and not in talking terms with Molly, Issa braves it through on her own. I thought that this provided her courage to also just sit it out, alone at the balcony after Lawrence broke the news of the Condola pregnancy. I felt the heavy emotion while she told Lawrence that “this is a lot”, and I think it was a good idea to sit alone and reflect about all the possibilities of what the outcome would look like for her. It was definitely a marker of growth not calling other people to sound board. I posit that, sound boarding is important, but I have found it to be a better experience when you allow yourself to go through the motions, sit with the discomfort of the painful ones and come to an acceptance of it — something Issa was not very accustomed to whenever she ran into work or relationship problems. I mentioned to my friend Vero, that this scene was so powerful and real, it reflected the curve balls that life can throw at you, when you sometimes least expect it.
Supportive, Intuitive, smart lawyer, a good friend
Molly as Issa’s best friend has been what I call a wing girl! You know that friend who steps in to save you from boy drama, shares in your heartbreak emotions, hosts you in their house when you are down financially and emotionally, shows up for your work events that need external audiences. Molly is that friend for Issa. I like that she knows Issa so well on certain issues that she would intuitively be able to pick out if something is not right or if she had done something silly. This intuitiveness allowed her to step in to meet some of Issa’s emotional needs when the situation called for it. For instance the day Issa threw a party in her house with the expectation that Lawrence may come by, and when it was getting obvious that he wasn’t coming , Molly saw Issa’s dejected face and asked her what’s wrong. I liked that, because Issa knew what she was doing was a long shot and probably Molly wouldn’t have approved of it but she was still there for her. Molly also “accidentally” bumped into Lawrence so that she can actually gauge whether he has moved on and in turn help Issa move on too so that she doesn’t harbour false hope about their relationship. This wing girl stints would make me describe Molly as supportive. Despite her enjoying their getaway on Kellie’s birthday, she drove Issa back home in the middle of the night to go and meet Lawrence which Issa considered as a hopeful sign that they will work things through. When Issa had financial problems yet they had planned to go for holiday in Morocco she organized a Morocco experience for her in her house and they really had a good time.
Molly is also very smart and a stellar lawyer who adds great value to her law firm. Through all the seasons, it’s evident Molly’s work is very important to her and she really outdoes herself in several instances in the projects she works on. Her stellar work is noticed by a black colleague and this made her confident to move firms and negotiate a better pay. This confidence and stability though is not reflected in her romantic relationships. She seems quite unsure about what she wants from the men she is dating. The only thing that has come clear is that she would love to have a good stable romantic relationship that would lead to marriage — as she once put it “ a relationship like the one my parents have” .She was unsure whether she wanted to date Jared who didn’t go to college, she was unsure about the marketing manager guy because he seemed to be ticking a box, she was unsure about the situationship she was in with Dro…she was hella unsure. There was some stability experienced with Andrew but it did not end well or at least the season ends with everything looking grim. Much as she signed up for therapy, I feel like Molly wasn’t fully convinced she needed it or was not ready for it or a little bit of both. I picked this up from the way she would not fully open up to Dr. Rhonda and how she wouldn’t necessarily implement Dr. Rhonda’s insights. Granted therapy can be a very uncomfortable experience, it serves the client no good if they are not willing to put in some effort. Her other undesirable characteristic is some bits of passive aggressive communication that she uses at work especially in the black law firm, with her relationship with Issa and the guys she dates. Somewhere down the line, they stopped saying Malibu, which was a call to tell each other the truth and Molly went full swing in the opposite direction. This was also pointed out really well by her therapist when she pointed to her the pattern of how she resolves conflict. The therapist’s insight to her about this in episode 9, season 4 was a line I consider very well written for this script, “do you want to be right or to be in a relationship?”. Many times we find ourselves very high handed when we have had an argument with loved ones, and we want to stop at : I was right and they were wrong and they need to apologize. Rarely do we stop to consider our contribution to the situation especially if it’s a long standing situation.
Outside of therapy, Andrew has been hinting at this concept to Molly , where he told her after her brunch with Issa she could have at least met her half way and also with Andrew’s brother, he mentioned to her that she should at least try and make peace. Even with all these hints Molly is still adamant to mend her strained relationships. Possibly for Molly, her lawyer training could have an impact on this trait of wanting to be right or “win” coupled with other issues and the outcome is her not having good relationships. Even with this thinking I feel there are some things about Molly we haven’t clearly understood and maybe season 5 will paint a better picture. A marker of growth though is her reflection at the season finale by calling Issa to have a sit down. That was refreshing. I couldn’t help but feel that Issa was vindicated when she told Molly during the block party argument that if her relationship with Andrew doesn’t work out it wouldn’t be because of her. Here we are…a season finale and a seemingly end to her relationship with Andrew.
Issa and Lawrence
Vulnerability and honesty
I discuss them together because in season 4, this unexpected turn of events where they get to have candid conversations about what happened between them was very refreshing. In some way I feel the reactions a lot of people shared about episode 8 was a reflection of how a lot of candid conversations with both parties acknowledging their faults don’t happen when romantic relationships go awry. There was also an aspect of how rare that kind of vulnerability is afforded to people when they have an argument in romantic relationships. But it was a good portrayal of Lawrence having gone close to full circle of growth where he doesn’t just blame Issa for everything that happened between them.
In that conversation Issa was very keen on showing Lawrence that she had grown and she seemed pleased that he is no longer looking at her as the woman who cheated but as someone who is getting things done in her professional life. It was also heartwarming to see the long standing friendship they had rekindled, like nothing ever happened between them. I would want to say it’s a fairy tale, but I think vulnerability and honesty does offer a fighting chance for strained relationships to blossom again. In the book ‘What Makes love last :how to build trust and avoid betrayal’ , John Gottman points out in his explanation about the Zeigarink effect that between lovers, arguments that end with confessions and amends and deeper understanding of one another tend to be soon forgotten and the legacy of that relationship is a stronger and more enduring one. I am not one to predict fairy tales, but the subsequent episodes were a pointer to how stronger the relationship between Issa and Lawrence is — more openness, less insecure, more willingness to listen. I reckon even with the Condola pregnancy , they will navigate this in a better way than they would have a few years earlier. In Kellie’s famous phrase (and meme too) : “You know what that is? Growth”.