Few shows have encapsulated modern living in Los Angeles as perfectly as HBO’s Insecure. Showing viewers a more authentic depiction of the city, rich with hole-in-the-wall eats, spontaneous art instillations, and under-appreciated venues, the series has consistently built a world in an LA that hasn’t been spotlit like this ever before.
Four seasons in, the imagery is a beautiful as ever. With immaculate shots of the city accompanied by the sharp soundtrack livening the already gorgeous scenery, the series remains true to form. Brilliantly, Issa Rae and her team of writers maintain the fabric of the show; however, with each season, they take a different approach to telling these characters’ stories.
This year, the focus is both magnified and broadened.
The season picks up almost immediately following the events of the third outing. Issa is planning her block party, Molly is dating Andrew, and Tiffany has just had her child with Derek. The theme of self-improvement and growth seeps into the early moments of this season. Issa and Molly, though growingly distant, meet for Self Care Sundays and lean into their careers.
The first half of the season depicts the build up to Issa’s block party in Inglewood and the casual degradation of her friendship with Molly – the union that has glued together the entire series.
Its pace is noticeably slower than that of earlier seasons, allowing a more character focused approach to the storytelling. Some of the early episodes initially feel too vacuous to compel, but in reality they serve as stepping stones to arrive at the later episodes.
Along the way, though, fans are treated to many firsts. Incredibly executed is “Lowkey Movin’ On,” the block party episode. With surprise appearances from artists like Zacari and Vince Staples, as well as Issa’s hilarious new assistant, the episode is a shining highlight. It also incites some of the show’s most immersive and boiling drama.
In “Lowkey Thankful,” Issa and her brother are able to evolve their relationship and connect more closely. Issa’s problematic but nonetheless loving mother is finally featured. This grants viewers a richer understanding of Issa’s pasta and upbringing. Even in smaller moments like these, the season long arc is kept air tight, bringing things to an ultimately dramatic and heart thumping climax.
The bulk of the season finale is dedicated to a wild goose chase after Tiffany, whose postpartum depression forces her to run away from home. It’s a weird, ill-fitting sequence. Tiffany’s mental health issues would be a great character exploration, but the arc’s inclusion in this episode felt shaky and unexplained at best. It would have been better served in a separate episode rather than a vehicle bringing together ex-best friends Issa and Molly.
The final moments are largely a complete reset of the show for what will become an interesting fifth season. After noticing many red flags and toxic patterns throughout his relationship with Molly, Andrew decides to call it quits. Issa and Lawrence’s utopic reunion is interrupted when Condola returns to tell Lawrence she’s pregnant with his child and intends to keep it. This throws a wrench in Issa’s hopes for their future, and she ultimately decides to walk away.
The season ends where Molly and Issa first met up for dinner in the first episode. When all else around them comes crashing down, their friendship remains.
The season’s larger episode count allowed the writers more autonomy to explore specific situations and really unpack their characters’ behaviors. The best results of this came in Molly and Andrew’s vacation episode, Issa and Molly’s will-they-won’t-they reunion prior to the finale, and Issa and Lawrence’s date featuring some of the series’ most compelling dialogue on romance, growth and change.
The season’s narrative is always at the forefront of the writers’ minds, with each situation and conflict serving the overall plot. Though it may be the least funny season of the series, its the most dramatically impressive and structurally brilliant. With each episode acting as a building block to the incendiary finale, the season succeeds.
Where some episodes felt like unnecessary filler, most show a series consciously deciding to mature. Though the characters may not succeed, those in the writers room surely do.