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Issa and Daniel find their rhythm in a slow-paced Insecure

Issa Rae (left) and Y’lan Noel
Screenshot: HBO
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“Familiar-like” is a slower episode of Insecure. Last week’s premiere got us right back into the action and dealt with some major blow-ups. Episode two takes time to set a mood for the season. The issues at the center of this episode feel pretty familiar. There’s Daniel and Issa’s usual relationship drama. There’s Issa’s work problems. Issa is still having money issues. These are all things the show has touched on since season one, but now Insecure has done the character development to hit at the heart of these problems. Why haven’t Daniel and Issa been able to make it work? Why did they even think it would work in the first place? “Familiar-like” explores these questions and let’s us see their relationship from a different perspective.


Last week, I said it was a great choice to cut Lawrence from this season. I really stand by that if it means the show is going to give characters like Daniel more backstory. We met Daniel’s sister and niece in the premiere, but his passion for music feels a bit more believable when we see him sharing his work with his family. I’ll admit, I’ve made my fair share of “Daniel is a Soundcloud musician fuckboy” jokes, but until now, the show made it easy to write him off that way. It turns out Daniel is really serious about his music and isn’t just using it to meet women or for clout. Daniel’s anxiety at the club removed the “cool, mysterious, sexy” persona the show usually projects onto him. It turns out, Daniel isn’t just serious about music, he has a lot of the same insecurities Issa does: He doesn’t believe in himself and he measures his own progress by his friend’s success.

Issa and Daniel work because she speaks his language. She’s able to convince him to go to the party. She convinces him to go speak to Spider, the rapper he wants to sign. She plays wingman for him. It’s sweet and, again, finally shows us that there’s more to this Issa and Daniel thing than a teenage crush they haven’t grown out of. Still, what we’re seeing here is...familiar. Again, Issa is focused on supporting the dreams and egos of the men in her life rather than her own. This might be the first time we’re seeing Daniel’s insecurities, but did he really sound any different than Lawrence did when he was dreaming about his tech startup? Maybe Issa is just used to taking on this role for the men in her life, but she has plenty to focus on in her own life. Daniel is still just a distraction and I hope his bed offer doesn’t get Issa off track.

Issa Rae (left) and Natasha Rothwell
Screenshot: HBO

“Familiar-like” also gives us our first Kelli appearance of the season! I’m pretty sure we learned more about Natasha Rothwell’s character in that one scene than we have in the entire series. She works in finance! She has an assistant! She is still absolutely hilarious in the office! Kelli makes it very clear that Issa has a lot of work to do before she’s a financially-secure adult. Even though Issa has been doing Lyft and taking her job more seriously, she’s far from where she needs to be. I hope Issa takes the property management job, but it’s odd that she didn’t share that news with Daniel. Even if staying with him saves her money, Daniel’s place is not a cute look anymore.


Although it does seem like a complete career change would be a better move for Issa. This week, her team finally decided to address the racist logo that has been We Got Y’all’s running joke since Insecure started. Joanne, Issa’s boss, is incredibly defensive when people mention that it’s pretty racist to have a white hand holding up children of color. Insecure has never fully passed judgement on We Got Y’all’s ethics. It’s pointed out how misguided and unhelpful programs like this can be, but it’s also taken the time to show us that people like Issa and Frieda do have good intentions in these programs.

Screenshot: HBO

But this season, We Got Y’all is clearly on the wrong side of things. Someone like Issa or Frieda, even with good intentions, can’t make impactful change when the very core of the organization is helmed by white fragility and ignorance. Issa shouldn’t need to be the voice for all black people in the office. Her coworkers should be capable of intersectional thinking. That expectation is exhausting and it’s particularly demeaning when her coworkers only turn to her opinion on “black” issues.

Issa needs to get out and this is just another reason why she doesn’t need to be up late with Daniel “in the studio.” She should spend that time job hunting, because I don’t see anything good coming from We Got Y’all continuing to use Issa as their token black employee.


Stray Observations

  • Seriously, Natasha Rothwell deserves an Emmy for her delivery on “just wake up and it’s in your mouth?” and “should I fuck Warren?” I want an entire series dedicated to Kelli’s office.
  • I missed Molly. I wonder if she was off with Dro....
  • I feel stressed just watching Issa look for an apartment.
  • Green braces. Because they match his money. I love the club.
  • I hope there’s more to Daniel and Kahlil’s issues because Daniel got way too sensitive over asking him for help. Maybe Kahlil stole a beat from him or something?
  • I love that Issa’s Lyft rating is so low: a 3.7. Wow. Even with Capri Sun?
  • Joanne’s “but it’s my hand” was a great example of white feminism.

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About the author

Ashley Ray-Harris

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