The best thing about HBO’s Insecure — aside from its leading lady — is how it somehow manages to occasionally tease an insight or two out of its well-trod subject matter. The worst thing is, uh, that it’s such well-trod subject matter. I mean, did we really need another show about the tribulations of dating in a big city and all the accompanying tropes and clichés – the will they or won’t they get back together tension…the ubiquitously uptight, professional friend…the clubbing scenes…the fucking scenes of every varietal, awkward, funny, ‘hot’, etc…?

Let’s be straight, Insecure is just a combination of Girls and Sex and the City. Period. I suppose, some may argue its worth is that it comes from the ‘black perspective’. But does it really, though? Because if that’s the case, to my eyes, the white and black perspectives seem to be pretty much interchangeable. Aside from the rampant use of the N-word, the hip hop music playing in the background, and her occasional rapping what the hell is the difference? And side note, her rapping? Yeah, she should put that baby to bed already. She might fancy herself a great MC, but it’s totally cringe-worthy.

In last night’s episode, Issa attempts to put her failed relationship behind and find her inner ‘ho’, but realizes it’s not so easy to switch gears. It covers the same ground you’d expect, the uncomfortable dates, the rejections, the ambivalence – and finally the consummation with a rando. Meanwhile, her ex Lawrence is feeling constricted by his affair and acts like an insensitive muldoon, bailing on Tasha at her family reunion. It’s a total douche move, and she calls him on it – pointing out that he’s really just a selfish asshole that thinks he’s a great guy. It’s a good scene and well expressed, but again, we’ve seen it all before.

Whatever works here is due solely to Rae’s eminently likable personality. Despite Insecure’s abject lack of originality, she makes it somehow watchable. Sure, she can sometimes be frustrating to the point of active annoyance, but somehow she always wins you over in the end. Now, if that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, I suppose I am. Don’t get me wrong, there’s potential here for a great show, but as long as it skews towards the conventional and banal, it will never truly shine.

We’re now making our way into season two and so far it just seems like a tame continuation of season one. Oh, I’m sure there’ll be some rote plot twists  but mark my words, it will inevitably conclude with a predictable climax…maybe Issa and Molly will take a vacation somewhere together and have a foreign fling…maybe someone will get pregnant…maybe Molly moves to Chicago. Whatever it will be, we’ll have all seen it coming a mile away. It’s a pity. The series has got great bones…it just needs some more meat on them.

6.0 Uninspired
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I’m a writer/editor with a penchant for saddle shoes, pontification and fried pork rinds. Equal parts gadfly, cut-up, provocateur, philosopher, and silly-willy. My personal heroes include Reggie Jackson, Elvis Costello and Philip Roth.

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