Amanda Seales (left), Yvonne Orji, Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell.
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

Last week’s episode, “Fresh-Like” felt like a huge step for Insecure. The episode felt like an exciting pivot for Molly and Issa that set up momentum for the rest of the season. It’s fair that “High-Like” doesn’t try to build off that momentum (obviously Issa wasn’t going to tackle her unemployment immediately), but it does feel like it pulls the narrative a few steps back. “High-Like” wants to be a feel-good episode with a focus on female friendship, but it’s about as successful at doing that as the girls are at seeing Beyoncé.

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“High-Like” is a hilarious episode of Insecure. It provides some of the best Kelli moments we’ve ever seen. It’s the best ensemble episode we’ve had between the girls. Maybe that’s why it’s so disappointing that their trip gets derailed. The gang goes to Coachella so they can see Beyoncé and celebrate Tiffany. Neither one of these things happens and rather than feeling closer after the trip, it might be time for them to admit that their friend group has a shelf life. That’s real. Friend groups change and Molly and Issa have always been closer than they have been with Tiffany and Kelli, so it’s only natural that they’d eventually drift apart.

Still, Insecure has never really shown us the weight of this friend group. This episode wants to feel like Girl’s Trip (it even has a scene where someone pisses themself) or Girlfriends or Living Single, but Tiffany and Kelli have never felt as fully-formed as characters to earn those comparisons. Tiffany and Kelli have only served as a chorus to analyze Issa and Molly’s problems. The friendship between Tiffany and Kelli has also been left unexplored. What’s really changed between them since Tiffany’s pregnancy? Yes, Kelli is annoyed that Tiffany can’t drink and she takes naps, but has there really been a shift in the ways they support each other?

Amanda Seales
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

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Insecure has always felt like Issa and Molly’s story, even with Amanda Seales and Natasha Rothwell being treated as regulars. We don’t even know how this group came to be friends. What is Tiffany so afraid of losing if the group separates? Are these pregnancy hormones or a legit fear? She feels left out, but it’s not like we’ve seen Kelli, Issa and Molly having a ton of fun without her (other than that group chat). The conversation between Tiffany and Issa should have more impact, but it just tells us that a friendship we haven’t really seen is in danger. The moment feels slightly hollow and it’s completely ruined by the episode’s final twist: Lawrence.

Yes, after letting Nathan and his cohorts derail this femme friendship episode, Insecure said “screw it” and brought back the time waster of all time wasters. Yes, Lawrence is a great character and Jay Ellis plays him well. Chad is amazing and I’m glad he’s back. But Lawrence and Issa’s story is done. There’s no version of this where we’re rooting for them to get back together. We’ve tread these waters before and it’s not quenching anybody’s thirst. If the two just had a brief encounter that ended with Issa realizing she was completely over him, that would be one thing, but we’ll be spending quite a bit of time with Lawrence since next week is focused on him.

Natasha Rothwell (left), Yvonne Orji, Issa Rae
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

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If the show has to give us an entire Lawrence episode just to prove that Issa really has or hasn’t moved on, I guess that’s fine. But after “High-Like” left me with so many questions about Tiffany and Kelli, I’m a little disappointed they’ve decided to focus on another one of Issa’s lovers instead of giving Amanda Seales or Natasha Rothwell a spotlight episode. I haven’t been curious about Lawrence or his dating life since the season started, but perhaps it’s a move to placate the #LawrenceHive.

The Lawrence twist is also surprising because the chemistry between Issa and Nathan is very real in “High-Like.” Issa feels so comfortable around Nathan that she doesn’t even realize she’s rapping in front of him. It’s adorable when he tries to throw a few bars on top of hers. He’s supportive of her quitting her job. He’s understanding when she needs to go help her friends. And… well… that sex scene. That was one of Insecure’s top three sex scenes. That was just hot.

Yes, these are all red flags and I can’t wait to see what Nathan is hiding, but on paper, there’s no reason Issa should be stressed about running into Lawrence. Like… Issa got dicked down on a ferris wheel and we’re supposed to care about Lawrence? It was also great when Issa opened up about her anxiety over Nathan not texting her and he admitted he didn’t want to seem pressed. There’s something easy about the connection between them and easy is what Issa needs right now. Lawrence isn’t an easy or interesting option.

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Yvonne Orji
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

“High-Like” is just on the verge of being a great episode for Molly too. She’s still focused on doing things she thinks she needs to do, rather than the things that are best for her. She only wants to make moves that will get her where she wants to go, but Molly obviously doesn’t know where she wants to end up. It was irresponsible of her to take on writing a brief and the trip, but it works out for her. She doesn’t suffer any consequences.

Sure, she loses her coat, but nothing bad comes from Molly taking on too much… yet. Her career is her life, but she isn’t motivated by a love for her job. She loves the admiration and shine that comes with taking on tasks. That’s eventually going to blow up in her face, but for now, it seems like she’s hitting a better stride in the office.

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We do get a brief glimpse of pre-therapy Molly when she’s on drugs. She admits that she’s been through some things. That she’s tired of being single and hasn’t been with anyone since Dro. Molly uses her job as filler for a relationship, but she’s been putting on a good front so far. Because Molly is so put together, it’s not often that the audience gets to see her insecurities until she’s actively making a bad decision, she admits it to her therapist or something blows up in her face.

Despite its shortcomings on female friendship, “High-Like” does forecast some exciting, impending doom for Molly and Issa as we get to the final stretch of the season.


Stray Observations

  • Chad sipping on that Slurpee was really all I needed from that moment.
  • I was more excited about Issa’s old neighbor getting a cameo than Lawrence. I love that Issa picked him up from a dispensary. Hope he had a great time at the “Brenshaw Mall.”
  • Natasha Rothwell deserves so many kudos for her work as Kelli. This was easily one of Kelli’s best episodes. From the edible moment to getting tased, she was delightful.
  • How can Issa just reply to texts with an emoji and then get mad when she doesn’t hear from people? What do you want people to say to a hurt head emoji or a smiley face, Issa? Use your words.
  • Just, again, I want to reiterate: That sex scene was hot.
  • There were so many good moments in this episode and I don’t have enough room to call them all out here! Issa doing the Formation dance! Molly Squared!

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