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‘Insecure’ plus: HBO comedy leaves with satisfying confidence

We carry a common set of expectations in the series finals, and “Insecure” co-creator Issa Rae can’t resist them. As she ends our time with her alter ego Issa Dee, Rae ticks several boxes on the bingo card closer to the Universal Series – answering lingering questions, delivering happy endings, tying bows on wishes.

But it’s all part of the larger meaning of Rae and his characters Issa (Rae), Molly (Yvonne Orji), Tiffany (Amanda Seales) and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) arriving at this finish line. If the farewell of every great show can be summed up with a succinct moral, this invites us to look back not with nostalgia for what might have been, but with total appreciation.

Moreover, each episode title of “Insecure” answers a question. How are Issa and Molly, asks the pilot? “Insecure as f ** k.” So it goes through the second season of “Hella” (“Hella Great”, “Hella Shook”) and the omnipresent ambience of uncertainty of the third, captured in titles such as “Better-Like” and “Ready-Like “, describing how 30-year-old life generally feels like one sets a course by their ambitions.

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It involves seeing a lot of goals and directions, but not quite getting to where you want to be when you expect it to be. It was the greatest story in Issa’s life and that of Molly’s. If you identify with this show, you know it. Season 4, “Lowkey” season (with episode titles such as “Lowkey Distant”, “Lowkey Done” and “Lowkey Lost”) expresses the latent frustration and resentment of being stuck on a set, the genre that can make best friends match up against each other… or propel us to a new place.

This explains the decisive “Okay ?!” complete every fifth title of the season. Each reads in different ways depending on the tenor of that week’s story, expressing everything from frustration (“Failure, okay ?!”) to resignation (“Choice, okay ?!”) “).

By announcing “Everything Gonna Be, okay? The finale reassures its audience – and Issa, who chats with the personal mirror at the start of the 41-minute episode and sighs, “I just want to quickly move forward to the part of my life where everything is fine.” Trust the title.

“Insecure” ends on its own terms, an unsecured victory on television and certainly not with shows centered on non-white actors and characters (a truth that “Insecure” co-creator Larry Wilmore can attest to). We take for granted the praise and status this one has earned over his breathtaking five seasons – a coat that Rae, along with showrunner Prentice Penny and everyone else in his cast, wear with a pride lacking in arrogance.

Certainly, “Insecure” paved the way for shows like Amazon’s “Harlem” and Starz’s “Run the World”. But “Living Single”, the ’90s Fox sitcom, which followed six friends living in Brooklyn Brownstone before “Friends.” Deprived of the level of promotion received by its Warner Bros. counterpart, it was canceled at the end of a curtailed season in 1998 despite its continued popularity with black audiences.

Another “Insecure” predecessor, “Girlfriends”, ended in 2008 without their quartet receiving their farewell flowers. So if Rae, who wrote the Penny-directed finale, places Issa in a classic two-princes contest between Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), recognize that this is the making of a moment that black characters, actors and writers don’t usually appear on television.

It is also the creator of Issa Dee and Molly Carter who grants the wishes expressed by these best friends in the very first episode. Take note of this. The last few seasons of our favorite shows usually inspire a full rewind of the series, which many “Insecure” fans did regularly anyway. But to fully savor the end of the show, which is satisfying in itself, just revisit the series premiere.

That was only five years ago, but five years ago it was a lifetime, a feeling that Rae and Penny play with throughout the conclusion. The first features Issa when she is 29 and working for “We Got Y’all”, the archetypal nonprofit dedicated to serving a segment of the population that its founder and staff do not understand.

Issa is the only black person working there and Molly is in the same situation in her law firm. And it’s one of the freeway markers we can use to measure how far their stories and the show itself have traveled since 2016.

When “Insecure” first launched, producers believed it was essential to feature white characters in shows that focused on black stories to broaden their audiences. But “Insecure” didn’t lose its white audience when the show dropped its white characters after Issa and Molly quit their old jobs. In 2018, Rae confirmed at an event in Cannes that the show’s audience was 62% white.

And that shouldn’t be surprising. All great shows speak to everyone. This one offers reassurance and reassurance about the challenges of thriving in our 30s, when many of us are still figuring out what we want to do and how we want to live as we sink deeper into the midst of careers. in which we may not have imagined ourselves. . Aspiring to be unique, and better, is an ideal that “Insecure” defends and which also appeals to American history.

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The show differs from the above by representing this philosophy through visions of black excellence as uniqueness. This is expressed through her avant-garde fashion sense, her hairstyle play, hazy and alluring music, featuring tracks from emerging artists, and the dreamy visual style established by executive producer Melina Matsoukas, who set the tone by directing much of its first season and episodes of the second season.

We see it in its distribution, of course; “Insecure” raised the profile of all of its stars, introducing Orji and Seales to a wider audience and pulling Rothwell’s enormous talent out of the writers’ room to give him one of the funniest roles on television. (She’s also one of the highlights of the limited series “The White Lotus.”) And we witness it in Rae’s meteoric rise to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, both as an actor and producer.

The questions this show asks at the start are the same ones Issa, Molly, and their loved ones carry with them five years later, and into the future, as many of us do. Issa has always been able to answer some of those questions that had once blocked her.

“How different would my life be if I was really looking for what I wanted?” She asks hypothetically in front of an elementary school class during the series premiere. In turn, the children make her feel small with their inquiries: “Is that what you always wanted to do?” “Are you single?” “Why aren’t you married? “

From there, Issa and Molly continue to question everything about their careers, their love lives, each other. “Where are we going?” “Are we here?” »« Am I official? ”

It goes “Everything is going to be, okay ?!” the correct final answer as well as a statement of determination and confidence – not just for the characters but for everyone watching.

“You’ve gone from We Got Y’all to ‘I have mine’,” one of Issa’s relatives told him, marveling at how far we’ve come and perhaps reminding us to appreciate our own travels around the world. ‘uncertainty. And that ensures that this show will keep talking to us long after we’ve gone our separate ways.

The “Insecure” series finale airs Sunday, December 26 at 10 p.m. on HBO. All episodes air on HBO Max, which premieres the behind-the-scenes documentary “Insecure: The End” on Sunday, December 26.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.