In Insecure‘s Hilarious, Heartbreaking Season Finale, Actions Have Consequences
(Episode 1.08)HBO TV Features Insecure
Every week, critic Hari Ziyad breaks down the mechanics of a particularly excellent Insecure scene, joke or character. This week, it’s all about knowing when to say “no.”
As Insecure wraps its first season, all of the decisions Issa and Molly have made throughout are finally coming to fruition. From prioritizing fuck boys over best friends to breaking up with otherwise exceptional partners because of discomfort with their past willingness to explore their sexuality, the lovable hot mess of a pair finally sees what their actions have reaped. And most of it is, predictably, also a hot mess.
How Molly and Issa have been operating thus far is exemplified by a scene early on in “Broken as F—.” After Lawrence dumps Issa and Jered refuses Molly another chance, the ladies spend the night out of town for their friend Kelli’s birthday—despite the fact that Molly hasn’t forgiven Issa for telling her she needed therapy in “Real as F—.” While celebrating at a club, Kelli (played by the wildly talented Natasha Rothwell, who’s been upped to a series regular and will develop a new show for HBO) re-introduces a game they used to play called “We Did Say.” The rules are simple: no saying no.
Molly’s up first. Kelli tells her to grab a waiter’s ass, and Molly does her one better, grabbing his dick—without his consent. “Oh, she said be on your worst behavior,” Molly responds when she returns to see her friends are shocked by her actions.
For them, this is just a game. Molly gets to prove that she is some new, uninhibited version of herself, and everyone else gets a laugh. In reality, she’s just sexually assaulted someone, a serious crime in all states, and a felony in many. The last time they played “We Did Say,” their friend Tiffany ended up in jail. I suppose Molly was simply trying to establish criminality as a tradition.
But this isn’t really new behavior at all. Issa and Molly have been refusing to say no to terrible decisions and to accurately assess the seriousness of their actions throughout the season. It’s why Issa fucked Daniel and chastised Molly for her mistakes with no self-reflection. It’s why Molly broke it off with Jered—not once, but twice—when he was genuinely trying to make things work. And it’s why both of them are spiraling out of control: Molly by fucking indiscriminately and committing sexual battery, Issa by vainly begging for Lawrence to come back after betraying him.
“New Molly sabotages her life on purpose,” Tiffany jokingly explains when Molly asserts her newfound confidence to take what she wants—the implication being that she was previously sabotaging her own life, just by accident. Either way, she is the common denominator.
But as easy as it would be to shrug Molly and Issa’s problems away as self-induced, I can’t bring myself to do so. I would be a hypocrite. I, too, sabotage my life all the time. I have been a fuck boy and a fuck friend, and, yes, I have committed sexual violence in the name of just having fun.
While it excuses nothing, the reality is, we’re all just trying to figure out how to get what we think we need, and not saying no to life’s dares sometimes seems just as likely to lead us to our goal as anything else. But if there’s anything I learned watching this show, it’s that there’s no one answer to all of this love, friendship and life shit, and trying to find a simple solution to complex problems will always lead to the failures Molly and Issa have now.
At the end of the episode, Lawrence doesn’t return to Issa after saying that he would, and she’s understandably heartbroken. This time, the game led to serious consequences. But she still has Molly. She always has Molly. Their friendship is as real as the consequences of their actions. And maybe next season they can use the strength of their friendship to figure out together how life is not a game, and cheating and ignoring consent has its consequences.
Because sometimes you should take life by the horns, but sometimes you have to say “no.” Sometimes, the moment isn’t about you. Sometimes, it’s about your friendship, or your relationship, or someone’s bodily autonomy. One’s own insecurities can often obscure these realities, and this season has unveiled just how this happens in hilarious, heartbreaking and frustrating ways. And if Insecure keeps providing these necessary revelations, I cannot wait for Season Two.
Hari Ziyad is a Brooklyn-based storyteller and the Editor-in-Chief of RaceBaitR. Their work has been featured on Gawker, Out, Ebony, Mic, The Guardian, Colorlines, Black Girl Dangerous, Young Colored and Angry, The Feminist Wire and The Each Other Project. They are also an assistant editor for Vinyl Poetry & Prose and a contributing writer for Everyday Feminism.