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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Insecure struggles with the old Molly and Issa in a frustrating fourth episode

Illustration for article titled Insecure struggles with the old Molly and Issa in a frustrating fourth episode
Photo: HBO

Last week’s episode, “Lowkey Thankful,” wasn’t just incredibly good, it also got a lot done in terms of overall story. The episode introduced Issa’s mom. It illustrated the issues Molly and Issa’s friendship has had for years. It broke up Condola and Lawrence. It cleared up Molly’s issue with her dad. “Lowkey Losin’ It” doesn’t feel like an episode where a lot happens. Instead, it tries to remind us that Molly and Issa haven’t come as far as we thought they have.


The thing is, this is an episode where a lot should happen! Guess what? Tiffany had her baby! Finally! Off-screen! It feels like Tiffany has been pregnant for the entirety of the show at this point, so having her give birth off-screen feels like a let down. Perhaps the show didn’t want to play into expectations, but more and more these choices feel like a conscious decision to minimize the roles of Tiffany and Kelli. It took four seasons for Insecure to justify Lawrence’s presence on the show. Yet Tiffany’s pregnancy isn’t even used for character development or to truly examine her friendship with Kelli. She’s the same Tiffany, she just has a baby now.

Kelli and Tiffany are still just sounding boards for Issa and Molly. In the episode where the audience finally meets the baby we’ve been waiting for, Insecure chooses to use both characters to dig into Molly and Issa’s problems. While this usually works, it doesn’t when I have to imagine Kelli and Tiffany probably want to scream, “This woman just had a baby, no one cares about your little argument! Be adults and talk to each other!” At least, I imagine that’s what Tiffany and Kelli want to yell. I don’t actually know for sure because they only exist as comic relief. Tiffany only likes her baby when she’s chill and doesn’t seem to be a very involved mother. Kelli wants to drink breastmilk. The end.

The thing is, Tiffany and Kelli’s perspectives are more important than ever. As Molly and Issa break apart, Tiffany and Kelli become another way for the audience to really understand Molly and Issa’s breakup. Issa and Molly are both making mistakes and they see each other’s mistakes, but they don’t see each other’s growth. They still just see the worst in each other. Molly still thinks Issa is immature and irresponsible. Even though Issa isn’t being inappropriate with Lawrence, Molly projects that onto her. Issa still thinks Molly is self-righteous and overly invested in relationships. Issa doesn’t know Molly really is trying to do better this time.

They’re both still struggling with their “old” versions. Issa’s block party is going off the rails since Condola dipped. Also, Issa is very bad at her job as a property manager. Molly is absolutely taking Andrew for granted and isn’t communicating her schedule well. Do Tiffany and Kelli see that? Do they see the growth and maturity these characters are now displaying? Is that why they’re so understanding of Molly and Issa? Or do they get together without Molly and Issa and make fun of both of them for still being stupid? It’s a perspective that would help ground Issa and Molly’s actions.

Because they were both incredibly frustrating this episode. Issa has handled the Condola and Lawrence thing like an adult, but she can’t pay a water bill on time? She can’t approve a flyer without Condola? Molly doesn’t realize it’s rude to invite someone over and then ignore them? They both go visit their friend’s newborn child and can only make passive aggressive barbs at each other? It made no sense for Tiffany and Kelli to act so oblivious to the clear tension between Molly and Issa.


The ending is even more aggravating because Molly and Issa have both acknowledged there’s an issue between them. Issa would have to be totally oblivious to their cold war to ask Molly for a favor like that. But she just talked to Kelli about it! So...why would she think that’s okay to do? Sure, she was freaking out over the block party, but why wouldn’t she use it as an opportunity to extend an olive branch and ask a favor? And why has Molly suddenly realized the key to romantic relationships is communication, but she can’t use her words with her best friend and tell her how she feels? While this will inevitably become another issue between them, it lacks the weight of their Thanksgiving confrontation.

Stray Observations

  • Molly said they came to visit the baby the previous weekend, so Tiffany apparently gave birth awhile ago. I truly do not understand why the show would hype Tiffany’s pregnancy for so long and not even give us the story of her delivery or her going into labor.
  • So...Molly is talking to Tiffany about Issa. Molly talked to Kelli about Andrew. Issa talked to Kelli about Molly. Tiffany knows about the whole Condola situation. But you’re telling me Tiffany and Kelli haven’t gotten together to talk shit about all this mess?? And Insecure thinks we don’t want to see that?? Hopefully we get the additional context.
  • It seems hypocritical for Molly to understand putting your career first, but not extending that same grace to Issa. She assumes Issa is leaving to go sleep with Lawrence or something when it’s like...Molly, Issa is a property manager. She’s organizing an event. She has responsibilities. Are you really that mad she left to talk to Lawrence for 5 minutes? We know Molly is smarter than this.
  • I guess Lawrence and Condola broke up. I have to imagine that’s what Lawrence wanted to tell Issa. I do not think Lawrence and Issa should get back together.
  • Nathan called Issa and she didn’t seem mad about it!
  • Andrew is a saint.
  • This is the first mirror rap/hype scene of the season and it’s interesting that it doesn’t work. Issa has outgrown her friendships and her old coping mechanisms.
  • Issa is in her car listening to a self-help tape about female friendship troubles, but is oblivious enough to think she can just ask Molly a favor? We know she’s smarter than this! Why not ask Nathan to talk to Andrew?? Nathan is desperate to do right by Issa!
  • Issa Rae and Natasha Rothwell have amazing chemistry together and the decision to underutilize Kelli more is starting to feel like a choice to deny fans happiness.

Ashley Ray-Harris is a stand-up comic and writer.