“Hella LA” is a hella weird episode of Insecure. It feels disjointed and forces together a few educational moments in a way that feels distracting. While the biggest takeaway from “Hella LA” is the reintroduction of Daniel, the episode also opens up new possibilities for Molly and gives Lawrence more of a character arc. Still, the episode suffers because Issa feels like she’s on the sidelines. Insecure certainly has a strong enough ensemble to carry an episode without Issa being in on the action, but “Hella LA” is just trying to do too much.
Let’s start with Lawrence. In this episode, Lawrence goes from fully embracing his new fuckboy status to a terrifying interaction with police, then to a threesome and finally to Issa’s apartment building. ”Hella LA” tries to do a lot with Lawrence and there are definitely interesting points being made, but it almost feels as though they would’ve been better served if the episode had only focused on Lawrence. Instead, the episode quickly tries to cram in about twenty different narratives on the black male experience in a few minutes.
The fear Lawrence felt when he was pulled over was incredibly clear. The scene felt tense, but that quickly disappears when the officer notices Lawrence went to a rival college. Unlike Issa and Molly, we don’t know much about Lawrence’s back story, but I think this moment gives us some clues. Lawrence has the ability to seamlessly transition from spaces like Tasha’s family picnic to his tech office to police encounters. As most black men are required to do, he’s learned how to switch up his mannerisms in order to survive and thrive in the world. That is until he encounters two white women who are only interested in sexualizing him as a black stereotype and he realizes he doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be in this threesome interaction.
It was a difficult moment to watch and Jay Ellis does an amazing job of performing the gradual transition from “this is awesome” to “holy shit, what did I get myself into?” Mostly, though, the situation feels traumatic for Lawrence. After years with Issa, it’s not likely that he’s experienced such blatant fetishization in the dating game. Even though he’s clearly not ok after the experience occurs, he’s forced to put on a smile for his friend and doesn’t have anyone to talk to about it. That takes him to Issa’s apartment. Even though Issa wouldn’t be happy to hear about his threesome, he still needs to vent to someone about this crazy white girl shit he just suffered through and Issa was always his person for that.
It’s an incredibly interesting episode arc, but “Hella LA” doesn’t give Lawrence enough space to sell it. Despite the rich topics being addressed around black masculinity, we still have two other major plot points to focus on: Daniel is back and Molly is considering a major shift in her romantic intentions. Let’s start with Molly, because well, it’s awesome to see a modern TV show take on the topic of open relationships in a way that doesn’t feel judgmental or heavy-handed.
If you think about it, polyamory makes sense for Molly at this stage in her life. She’s focused on her career. She doesn’t want to spend her energy focusing on one guy and she doesn’t have time to be some dude’s sun and stars. Dating a man in an open marriage would also encourage Molly to stick to some rules, rather than rushing things romantically as she did in season one. Dro and Molly have amazing chemistry and hooking up with him would be a great way for her to stay single, but have the fun she’s seeking. It’ll be interesting to see where their relationship goes and how Molly’s relationship issues manifest when there are strict rules she’s forced to navigate.
Finally, there’s Daniel and Issa reconnecting over the under-table-fingering of Natasha Rothwell’s Kelli. Issa isn’t given much to do during the Kiss N Grind event. She has an online date go predictably bad. She’s awkward as Molly and Kelli ditch her and things only get even worse when she notices Daniel. Daniel is reintroduced without much of a splash and it’s nice to see them reconnect without any added drama. Their connection is undeniable when you see Issa finally pick up her tray and join him. It’s a reminder that Issa didn’t throw her relationship with Lawrence away for nothing. Even though she may have said otherwise the last time she saw Daniel. Hopefully, we see more of him.
- I really wish this had just been a “Day in the Life of Lawrence” episode. His themes this episode needed more space.
- I loved watching Issa try to figure out how to tell Daniel she was single. The Living Single theme song was a great choice.
- “Which one is Michelle?” - Michelle Williams does not deserve this Destiny’s Child slander.
- “I think I marched with her.”
- God, that threesome was so hard to watch. From “Do you like the Weeknd?” to “big black cock,” I just wanted Lawrence to GET OUT.
- Natasha Rothwell deserves an award for that table performance. “Cheat day…it’s my cheat…day.” She sold it.
- Seriously, Molly and Dro are so cute together.
- This week’s soundtrack (If you didn’t listen to Slow Motion as soon as this episode was over, please check yourself):