Media Blog Project 2

Media Product Review: "Insecure"

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Insecure” is an HBO comedy series that takes place in South Central, Los Angeles, based on real life events from the shows creator, producer, and leading actress, Issa Rae. Rae's experience as a black woman navigating through life, while dealing with microaggressions, is what has created a unique dialogue around (what for many is) an uncomfortable and recurring reality. 

"There seems to be, like, 'black humor' and there seems to be 'white humor.' And a lot of my friends' tastes — we like both, but we don't get to see ourselves reflected on the "white humor" side," said Rae, in the NPR interview "'Awkward' And 'Insecure' Get To The Root Of Writer Issa Rae's Humor."

Season one was released on October 9, 2016, and includes topics that explore self identity, stereotypes when dating and in the workplace, embrace and challenge true friendships, revisit past love interests, and reflect on the internal conflict Rae faces while trying to mend a dwindling relationship. All of which makes this show relatable to people from all walks of life.

"We wanted to paint that this character is in between two worlds and is just in a constant state of discomfort," said Rae, in an NPR interview.

She continues, "She's 'not black enough for the black people and not white enough for the white people.'"

Personally, I can relate to this, and it has been something I've dealt with since a young age. A part of the show I really appreciate is seeing how Rae responds to situations I've experience myself. For example, Rae works for a non-profit organization that helps school kids in local areas-- at her job the majority of her co-workers are white. Being the only black person at her job, she faces stereotypes daily from her coworkers, who don't seem to realize they're doing it. In the first episode a coworker says something is "on fleek," and asks Rae about it, assuming she would know all of the new catch phrases. The camera pauses and Rae talks to the camera, letting out her anger, then collects herself, turns to her coworker and simply says she doesn't know what that means (even though she does) and goes back to what she was doing.

I appreciate these pauses throughout the show, because it shows the viewers what she's thinking and how she's internalizing things-- even though she gets irritated, she would rather keep her composure and reflect before responding.

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In 2015 Rae made her claim to fame with her web series "Awkward Black Girl," which addresses similar themes found in "Insecure."

"I knew I was black, obviously, but the 'awkward' part really just defined me in a sense," said Rae in an NPR interview. "That felt like an identity that I had not seen reflected in television or film before, or at least in a very long time."

Whether it be in her car, or bathroom, from the very first episode we're shown some of Rae's hidden rapping skills. A highlight of the show is during the first episode when Rae performs "Broken P****" during an open mic. Not only did the song go viral on the show, "Insecure" fans (including myself) were also able to download the song from iTunes and Spotify after the soundtracks release in December 2016.

"I think the rap device and just rapping in general for Issa is the only opportunity she has to purely and rawly express herself," said Rae in an IndieWire interview.

In addition to the shows success, the "Insecure" soundtrack has also gained recognition-- featuring hit artists that include (but are not limited to): Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, The Internet, Vince Staples, Jorja Smith, Anderson Paak, and Dreezy. From observing the music that was chosen, the cinematography, and the conversations had throughout the show, I would say the target audience is men and women between the ages of 21-35. Culturally, the show speaks to the millennial generation, because of the extensive use of technology, social media, and current trends.

Before watching "Insecure," I hadn't found a comedy series I could actually relate to. I wanted humor, but I also wanted something that specifically spoke to the narratives of young women of color. Aside from being hilarious and well-written, I believe this show will continue to thrive because it gives a face and voice to women who are not as represented by writers in today's main stream media.

“I’m coming on the narrative of black women are constantly portrayed now — which is amazing — as flawless and fierce, and I remember just not feeling that way,” Rae told The Breakfast Club.

Side Note: 
Former U.S. President Barack Obama is an acclaimed fan of both the "Insecure" show and soundtrack.

On March 14, Issa Rae announced in a video from her personal Twitter account:
Season 2 of "Insecure" will premiere on July 23.


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