“Backwards-like” is a frustrating episode of Insecure because it covers a lot of ground we’ve seen before. Molly and Issa may be in new stages of their lives, but “Backwards-like” proves the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Even though Molly has the job she wanted and Issa is finally making her Daniel dreams come true, these new endeavors come with their own challenges and consequences.

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The episode starts with Issa having another classic sex dream about Daniel. This time there are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos involved, but it’s obvious Issa is going to wake up from the moment. Still, “Backwards-Like” features some real moments between Issa and Daniel that showcase the heart of their relationship. They bicker like a real couple when Daniel confesses that he played his own track instead of Kahlil’s for Spider. Issa points out that that was a bad idea and Daniel hits back by attacking her job performance.

Even though he apologizes, the fact that Daniel sees Issa this way is why they’ll never work. Issa needs someone who sees her potential and Daniel only focuses on her failures so he can measure his own success since he isn’t doing great either. This reality is clear to Issa’s friends, who “Greek chorus” her about Daniel being a bad idea, but it doesn’t really click for Issa until the end of the episode. Daniel tries to have sex with her, but she stops him. She just can’t do it anymore. Maybe she’ll give Daniel the space their friendship needs if she really wants to pursue a relationship with him, but for now, I’m just happy that she’s moving out of his place.

Yvonne Orji (left), Issa Rae, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales
Photo: John P. Johnson (HBO)

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I’ve enjoyed this deeper dive into Daniel, but “Backwards-Like” doesn’t do him any favors. It’s probably the first episode where I noticed Lawrence’s absence. We’ve seen a bit more of Daniel’s passion for music, but it’s still not so developed as a plot point that we’re on his side when he fights with Kahlil. When Daniel says he played his own track because he has to stay true to his art, it just sounds hilarious. Daniel, you’re a Soundcloud producer with no real clout, trust your friend on this one. Also, both of those tracks sounded pretty much the same to me. Issa was right to point out that Kahlil has a relationship with Spider and Daniel should apologize. It says a lot about Daniel’s immaturity that he lashed out at her when she made the suggestion.

Yvonne Orji
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

Molly finally starts her new job and also discovers things aren’t as wonderful as she thought they’d be. Molly is optimistic about things, but her first day in the office isn’t great. She was uncomfortable with the code-switching that was required at her old, mostly white job, but working in a mostly black office comes with new challenges. Black people aren’t a monolith and Molly’s coworkers aren’t all charmed by her CPT jokes and comparisons to her old office. Molly shouldn’t be naive enough to think an all black office would be free of the same politics she left at her old job.

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Navigating respectability politics in mostly black spaces is real and it doesn’t seem like something Molly thought about before taking the job. It doesn’t help that she’s unhappy with the way things are done at the office. She wanted more recognition from this job, but she’s realizing it’s not going to come easily. Hopefully she has time to focus on office politics without Dro in the picture….Am I the only one who misses Dro? Ok, that’s fair.

Issa Rae
Photo: Merie W. Wallace (HBO)

The focus on We Got Y’all this episode shines a bit more light on Issa’s real passion. After Issa says they should hire more people of color, she and Frieda head to a job fair to find applicants. Even though Frieda points out that they can’t hire anyone based on their race, they both agree that “white people have been given enough time.” While they set up their booth, it’s clear that Issa isn’t impressed with what they have to offer. She makes fun of the staff’s fun facts and doesn’t seem interested in engaging anyone.

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Eventually, she finds a program that helps engage children through music. She’s moved by their performance and, hopefully, she realizes this could be a new job opportunity. She may think We Got Y’all will be radically better with more black people in the office, but will that really make things better when you don’t even care enough to remember your job’s 5-year plan? If Issa can move on from her dream of a relationship with Daniel, it should be easier for her to walk away from We Got Y’all.

Stray Observations

  • “Greek chorus on a bitch” needs to be a new popular phrase.
  • Tiffany! She’s back and obnoxiously pregnant. I love that they have a group chat without her.
  • Seriously, Daniel. That was stupid.
  • The woman stealing clothes in the laundromat was hilarious.
  • Prayers to Spider’s guy who is not doing well after getting shot in the club.
  • I think Frieda had more in common with We Got Y’all’s potential new hire than Issa. She seemed genuinely excited about the program’s mission and I don’t think Issa would find an ally in her.
  • What law firm doesn’t use Docusign in 2018? Also, maintaining your hours by hand? I’d be mad too.

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