Insecure is finally back and Issa Rae has already blessed us with a season that is 10 times better than the last one.
The premiere is filled with everything that makes this show one of the best on TV: beautiful sweeping scenes of LA, subtle and effective cultural criticisms, instantly iconic quotes, laughs and intelligent, and impeccably dressed black millennials bumbling through adulthood in a relatable way.
But some of the worst things are back as well — namely the subtle messaging around size that permeates the show.
In the premiere, we’re introduced to Calvin, a TSA worker who Issa is currently shagging. From his first scene, it’s made abundantly clear that he’s not a serious contender for a relationship. Their sex scene is more silly than steamy; Issa politely directs Calvin through a series of sex positions until he finds one that she likes. He goofily follows her lead, happily contorting himself in increasingly awkward ways. She then admits that the reason she got a fan was because Calvin tends to sweat all over her when they have sex.
Later in the episode, he acts as the security guard at her party. He’s made out to be a lovable buffoon, enthusiastically hyping up the crowd like a frat boy who stumbled into a classy industry party.
Don’t get me wrong, Calvin’s scenes are some of the funniest moments of the episode and he would be welcome to any party that I’m at.
But it’s always the heavier-set men that are relegated to fuckbuddies on Insecure. Calvin instantly reminded me of a similar situation in season 2, where Molly chose a torrid affair with a married man in an open relationship over a sensible relationship with a fellow lawyer. It ultimately made sense for Molly to choose a relationship she was passionate about over one that was just sensible.
But it’s hard not to notice that she was having lackluster sex with the only chubby man ever to appear on the show and that he was pitted against a tall, light-skinned man who routinely had hot sex scenes with Molly. It reinforced the idea that bigger men aren’t sexually desirable and that generally, bigger people should be the butt of the joke.
It’s also worth noting that typically the comic relief comes from the only plus-sized series regular, Keli. She is easily one of the most watchable characters, totally comfortable with herself and leagues ahead of Issa in adulting. But she is rarely on screen for things other than a funny zinger or to sarcastically comment on Issa’s problems. Last season was the first time she was given any depth and it only emphasized how previously Keli had been more of a caricature than a character.
I still think everyone needs to watch this show. Issa Rae is a genius and I have never identified more with a female lead on TV in my entire life. But perhaps it’s time they reevaluate how they portray the men on the show, particularly the bigger guys.
Insecure airs Sundays at 10 pm on HBO.