By Brian Lowry, CNN
Series like “Insecure” can struggle to come up with significant finales because, when all’s said and done, life goes on. Yet the HBO dramedy’s final episode managed to create something memorable, informed by the line when the central character says, “I just wanna fast-forward to the part of my life where everything’s OK.”
The extra-long finale then proceeded to do essentially that, following the breakup of Issa (Issa Rae) and Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), and the uneven, longer-than-expected road that eventually led her back to Lawrence (Jay Ellis), which had always seemed preordained, despite all the hurdles — individually and together — that the two cleared along the way.
Of course, there was much more to it than that, and other business to get done. Issa’s best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), after her own series of up-and-down relationships, finally married Taurean (Leonard Robinson), following a bittersweet road to that outcome with the loss of her mother.
There was another melancholy moment at the wedding, when Issa frets about whether their bond would survive the change in Molly’s status, a common concern as people watch friends take such leaps in their 20s and 30s.
“There goes my girl,” Issa muses. But as the ending made clear, not to worry: As the show closed, they were on the phone again — despite being thousands of miles apart — an indication that wherever they might be, the friendship will survive. As CNN’s Lisa France noted, despite the focus on Issa’s romantic entanglements, “for me, her true loves will always remain her closest friends — Molly, Kelli and Tiffany.”
“Insecure” operated on two levels, focusing on the specific challenges faced by its characters while presenting an image of Black life too seldom seen on television through the years.
NPR’s Eric Deggans pointed out when the show premiered five years ago, Rae wanted it to be defined in part by just how unremarkable it was.
“Isn’t it sad that it’s revolutionary?” Rae said at the time. “We don’t get to just have a show about regular Black people being basic.”
Rae also spoke earlier this year about the perceived pressure to include White characters in order to make TV shows featuring Black leads more relatable to a broader audience, advice that she later resisted.
The result of those efforts was a finale that managed to be appropriately low key and still satisfying, much like a season punctuated by college reunions, breakups, loss, and career decisions, through the prism of characters the audience had come to know for all their quirks and, yes, insecurities.
“People come into your life for a reason,” Issa says at one point during the finale.
TV shows come to life for all kinds of reasons, but it’s generally the small details that keep them alive. In that sense, “Insecure” offered one last demonstration of having mastered the basics of being, well, basic.
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