‘Insecure’ Season 2, Episode 1 Recap: “Hella Great”

We’re pretty big fans of Issa Rae’s so-real series, Insecure. So to celebrate season 2, we took a look back at Season 1, and are now recapping the highly anticipated new episodes. Don’t miss the return of Insecure on Sunday, July 23 at 10:30pm, only on HBO.

Where were we? Oh yes — at the end of the first season, Issa and Lawrence’s relationship went up in flames, while Molly decided that maybe she should get professional help for her personal issues. Only a couple of months have passed since then, and as this season promises to be “Hella Out There,” let’s see just how much (or how little) things have changed for each character.

Issa

As the episode title suggests, Issa is (pretending) she’s “Hella Great.” She’s back in the dating pool, she’s got a new school placement at We Got Y’all, and she’s ready to move forward. Well, that’s what she wants everyone to think; truth is, Issa is absolutely floundering after her breakup with Lawrence. Sure, she’s getting out there, rocking the apps and going on plenty of dates, but those dates are just outlets for her to fantasize about being on them with Lawrence – and subconsciously make up raps about why she’s single, and how she’s a liar and hella messy.

How messy? Hopefully the imagery of Issa’s low-key wine party ending with a garbage fire (“Women and children!”) is lost on no one.

As for the new work placement, Issa and Frieda have the uphill battle of working with teenagers… at a high school where the predominant language is Spanish, some teachers don’t even speak English, and most teachers are teaching the wrong class. Work should be an outlet for Issa to focus on something other than Lawrence, but instead, it’s now a projection landmine. “But isn’t it our job to make to make things work, even when it’s difficult,” she asks Joanne, a question she probably should have asked herself before she cheated. Or maybe even now, as she obsesses over how to coexist with him. Then, after a particularly rough day at the high school — involving stolen Habanero Oreos — Issa tells Frieda, “sometimes you just have to know when to give up.”

It’s good advice Issa should take to heart, but it’s immediately ruined by Lawrence showing up at the apartment that night, finally coming to get his mail and the stuff he left behind. It’s simple (yet awkward) enough, until the innocent meeting ends in a quickie between the two and then the musical stylings of Jazmine Sullivan. Kind of hard to give up after that, now isn’t it?

Issa’s “Hella Great” Status: Nonexistent

Molly

Molly’s actively trying to fix her situation, though that’s not exactly easy for her either. The good news is that she’s in therapy, but not particularly “good” at therapy. When she opens up, it’s about work, and even then, all of her answers for her therapist, Dr. Pine, are: “Fine.”

She may not be getting far in therapy — yet — but that doesn’t mean Molly’s not trying to deal with her… stuff. But it’s not as though she’s afraid to vent, as she reminds us (and Issa and every friend she has) once she learns that Travis, a white male colleague who’s been at the law firm as long as she has, is making much more money than her. Molly talks about refusing to play the “work twice as hard to get half as far” game of life, but in her case, there’s a lot more talk than action so far.

Molly’s “Hella Great” Status: A work in progress

Lawrence

Things should be all good for Lawrence. He’s gotten away from Issa, is still hooking up with Tasha, and generally has a reason to move forward with his life. At the same time, he’s avoiding getting his own mail from Issa, living in Chad’s living room (on an air mattress) and not exactly committing to anything or anyone. Even Chad calls Lawrence out for the way he’s treating Tasha — he doesn’t even take her out — and while Lawrence tries to play the “both having fun” card, the signs are already there that Tasha isn’t exactly content on just being a weekend hookup.

The least sad thing about Lawrence’s current bachelor situation is that it allows us to be introduced to a melodramatic slave show starring Regina Hall.

There’s a lot of talk from Lawrence too, specifically when it comes to finding a new place and moving on, if he even truly plans to do so. He does eventually take Tasha out on a real date, and he tells her that all of this is a matter of hating moving and finding the time to do things. (“Time” was Lawrence’s excuse for only hanging out with Tasha on the weekend, too. We have yet to see this busy schedule of his.) That just barely explains his line of thinking when he initiates sex with Issa on their living room couch though. Presumably, on Lawrence’s end, it’s breakup sex, but the kiss on the cheek says otherwise.

Lawrence’s “Hella Great” Status: Hella confused

While things might not be “Hella Great” for the characters, Insecure’s second season premiere feels like reconnecting with an old friend, picking up right back where you left off, and immediately judging said friend for their poor life choices. Still, you can’t help laughing with that friend, because they simply haven’t lost their sense of humor; and the way this premiere sets things up, this season is going to need that. Issa and Lawrence are now in an even more confusing place, and the stress of the mere thought of Molly bringing up the pay disparity at work is already too much to bear. Somewhere in between all that confusion and stress are (possible) gangbangers doing choreographed house party routines and unexpected quotes from Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It,” moments that just make that Emmy snub sting even more. But so far, it looks like this season is going to be “Hella Great.”