Hailed by the Times as “reminiscent of the network’s glory days,” HBO’s Insecure fully lives up to its promise of dishing out a slice of awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman. The characters and relationships are complex and well-developed. The delicate balance of pathos and offbeat humor make it easy to empathize with what they are going through.
As a white viewer, I feel like a voyeur, getting a more realistic picture of the intricacies and realities of my black peers than I did growing up on the TGI Friday’s brand of stereotyped, stock characters. (Except for the Cosby show, but that just makes me feel all sorts of ways now). And as a woman of the same age, Issa Rae’s creation transcends race and hits the core of my struggles with relationships, career, and self-perception…aka, insecurities. I’m a fan.
That said, I have a bone to pick with the writers, directors, and producers of Season 2. This season is focused on the “awkward experiences and racy tribulations” of single life. After their tumultuous break-up, Issa and Lawrence have joined Molly in the singles club and are both dating and trying to get laid. And while their struggles to find physical and emotional connection are very relatable, their complete and utter disregard for safe sex practices is not.
Lawrence has a threesome with two chicks he picked up in the grocery store and things get pretty graphic. They re-position from cowgirl and oral to an attempt at cowgirl sloppy seconds, leaving little room for imagination about the act or the cross contamination.
I wanted to justify it as “the characters are making an intoxicated, poor decision,” but since this comes up in other instances, it seems like Insecure is less about not not showing the characters using protection and more showing them not using it.
Hear me out. Before the unprotected threesome, Lawrence appears to go rogue with his it’s complicated rebound, Tasha. This could arguably be the start of an ongoing conversation about exclusivity, getting tested for STD’s, and birth control, but since a few scenes later he gets into some ‘shove it in’, spontaneous, revenge sex with Issa, it feels apparent that these issues are not at the forefront of the discussion.
Similarly, after a few failed attempts at “hoe-ing,” as she puts it, Issa gets up the courage to make a booty call to her neighbor. After some awkward foreplay we see him enter her; not pornographically, but using a continuous shot from behind. They couldn’t possibly have cut the part where he pauses to reach into the nightstand and grab a rubber, probably fumbling a little bit, or realizing he’s out and having to frantically look for one in the medicine cabinet.
As a sexually empowered woman who survived my mid-twenties dating in New York- unscathed with STDs or unwanted pregnancy- I find it surprising, and out of character for Insecure- a show willing to tackle relationships, sex, race, politics- to shy away from this critical concern. Or maybe I am just a fangirl that thinks that if anyone could address the awkward challenge of having protected sex with strangers and exes and make it relatable, it’s Issa.
And you, dear reader: according to a 2015 study, reported cases of STD’s in US are at a record high and climbing, so use condoms for fuck sake.