You may already know Issa Rae from her web series and/or memoir, both titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl — or from the previously released teasers for her upcoming HBO show, Insecure (which is based on Misadventures.) The upcoming series, which debuts October 9, has its first full trailer, revealing the promise of the biggest project Rae has taken on in her career to date.
The series was created alongside Larry Wilmore, and follows Rae’s character, whose name is almost her name, for it seems she’s almost playing herself. As Issa Dee, Rae explained to Time, she plays herself if she “didn’t know what [she] wanted to do” — as opposed to being the star/creator of an upcoming HBO series. The first moments of the trailer speak to the humor the show mines in insecurity, with Rae performing an attempted sung pep-talk in front of the mirror which devolves into flaccid, arhythmic self-deprecation. (The first episode, also, is called “Insecure as Fuck.” Subsequent episodes are other “…as Fuck”s — “Racist as Fuck,” “Messy as Fuck,” etc.)
In her social life, she has to put up with being compared to her highly successful corporate lawyer best friend (played by Yvonne Orji), while people pay her backhanded compliments about her general comportment like, “I love how you just don’t even care,” and in her love life, she contemplates what to do with a stagnating relationship. (Jay Ellis plays her boyfriend.) In her professional life, she works at an educational nonprofit, where her white coworkers tend to irk with repeated incidents of racial ignorance.
Rae spoke in a video on Twitter about why she titled the series Insecure, and why she’s interested in portraying the specific insecurities of specific black women (“This is not the quintessential black-woman experience,” she told Time — and that nuance and specificity, as well as the openness to finding power in admitting insecurity, is what makes it look so solid):
“There’s this narrative that’s going around that’s awesome — that black women are fierce, they’re strong, they’re flawless,” she says in the video. “And I don’t know that life. I wanted to center a show around weak black women, and the uncertainty they feel on that journey to get to greatness. It’s like the prequel to black girl magic.”
Watch the trailer: