The Evolution of Molly & Issa



Unless you went to bed early for work, were just tired, or didn't pay your cable bill by the first, you've caught the season finale to HBO's Insecure last night. This season was met with mix reviews, as the exciting and messy drama was traded for grown, real problems of maneuvering adulthood. Or, the #LawrenceHive was just mad, per usual.


To me, this season was a mastery of intentional and thoughtful storytelling, to mirror our millennial issues with self, career, and relationships: both romantic and platonic. You could have easily found yourself in one of the characters this season, who's life reminded you of that one person, or one time, you'd like to forget. Let's take a look at the arc of Issa and Molly, from start to finish.

In the premiere, Molly seemingly had it all together while Issa was sorting her ish out. Molly was fresh off vacation, and neatly organizing all the men in her life into tidy categories-- "vacation bae", "LA bae", "married bae", etc. She spoke proudly of her boundaries and told Issa to be better. Issa retorted by stating she didn't want to label an end goal; she just wanted to flow into a better space with no expectations. Where Molly put a ".", Issa put a "..." On the other hand, Issa was single, trying to establish a friendship boundary with Daniel while sleeping on his couch, and getting her money together in order to find her independence. Issa's character made the audience feel insecure with her area of not knowing.


Yvonne Orji as Molly Season 3 Insecure HBO

This establishes an important dichotomy between the two women. Molly represents our ego. In order to run from our truth of not having all the answers, we pretend to have control. Truth is, Molly is choosing someone who will never choose her. In order to pretend to have control, she tries to exert a boundary with Dro. This doesn't make sense to him, because she's been under his rules the entire time, and he planned to keep it that way. Molly continues to judge and quickly reject potential partners because she often feels rejected. The truth of her mother suffering from her father's adultery made it real that sometimes love hurts, and that's simply out of our control. We have to be brave enough to surrender to getting to know someone, and the possibility to have them make us feel one of the greatest feelings in this lifetime, may also hurt like hell.


Issa represents life. The season began with us being exposed to Daniel and his insecurities. By episode 6, we was completely gone and the focus replaced with Lawrence. Issa's story showed us that not knowing is the only constant in life, and change is inevitable. Sure, she's been confused, had questions, and tried new things (her new project failed!), but our response to changing situations is the only thing we can control: not outcomes, and surely not other people. While Molly re-attempts to control her relationship with Dro at Tiffany's baby shower, he throws the truth in her face once again by being salty and short when they speak. Issa simply wants to be present and expand the possibly of a new relationship with Lawrence, and is met with easeful flow.


Issa and Molly Season 3 HBO

Notice in this shot (as seen in the finale), Molly is out of focus and Issa is crystal clear. By the time we reach the finale, Molly is the one who is completely turned upside down in every area of her life: she doesn't have all the answers and trying to control people and situations continues to fail her. This comes to a head when she thinks her old flame Jared is gay, and tries to reject him before he is even an option to her. She has egg on her face when her "truth" about him is shattered as he appears amongst her friends with a new girlfriend. Not only is she wrong (yet again) but also rejected.


Issa and Nathan - Season 3 HBO

Issa's detachment from defining her surroundings allows her to make better judgements for herself. She waited and hoped for Nathan, someone who was an ultimate source of pain and insecurity for her. When he returned, she decided to choose herself. She turned something that we've seen worthy of breaking her down in the past, into positive and constructive energy.


Issa Dee - Insecure Season 3 HBO

In many screenplays, the characters have a physical anchor to show their emotional state. In Shonda Rhymes' Scandal, the women drink when they meet different stresses. In Insecure, it's the "bouch". S1, Lawrence was a depressed and uninspired boyfriend who lazily watched TV on the couch. By the finale, Issa cried in Molly's lap as the couch lay on the curb. S2, Issa tears her apartment apart in a fit of rage and ends up sleeping on Daniel's couch until she can get on her feet. By S3, Issa begins in a sleepless fit on a couch while listening to Daniel's fun in his bedroom, and by the finale, she has her own couch and is satisfied with herself.


As a screenwriter and filmmaker, Insecure has inspired me to become better at my craft. I appreciate how down to earth the characters and story are, I appreciate all of their flaws and screw ups, and I appreciate that larger conversations always seem to stem from whatever they go through in each episode. It's funny, warm, and real. Each character and gender gets a fair chance at being seen, and it's very relatable.


Which characters and stories have you seen yourself reflected in this season? What have you learned about yourself from watching them? Sound off below!

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