|Pictured Left To Right: Issa Rae and Jay R. Ellis star on HBO series ‘Insecure’
Nice guys don’t always finish last.
Black millennials don’t date anymore. That’s the theory we hear all the time, and while it holds some merit, it’s not the case for all of us. It’s one of the things I thoroughly enjoy about watching ‘Insecure.’ I’ve consistently tuned in every week, partially because it’s a dope show, and partially because I get excited every time I see people who look like me doing television right.
If you’ve never seen the show before,
(sorry for the spoiler, but you’re hella late at this point) here’s a quick run down. “Insecure” takes place in a predominately Black neighborhood of LA. Issa Rae and Jay Ellis play a couple who’s trying to overcome a complacent 5-year relationship and financial setbacks. Jay Ellis (Lawrence) is trying to get his life/career together, but has a series of bad luck until towards the end of the first season. Issa works for a community non-profit where she serves as the only Black voice, often dealing with passive aggressiveness and micro-agression. For most of the season, she’s the bread winner of the relationship. She spends a lot of time with her friends, but has neglected her relationship. Molly is Issa’s best friend. Molly has guy problems. Molly doesn’t like the guys who just might be perfect for her, but never gets the guys who she thinks is perfect for her. Issa cheats on Lawrence. Everything gets crazy. Okay, I think you’re all caught up.
So about last night. I went into the episode knowing that Issa messed up. Knowing that Lawrence (Jay Ellis) was suffering traumatically from nice-guy syndrome. Pause. What is nice-guy syndrome? Nice-guy syndrome is when nice guys like Lawrence get overlooked by women because they don’t truly realize their potential in both dating and career worth. It causes them a lack of true understanding of their worth, often times not yielding the results they deserve.
Okay, back to the story. Life was starting to take a turn for the better for Lawrence’s career, but everything else was a cluster-f*ck. I was hoping that Molly and Issa would mend their friendship woes, and they did. But specifically from my perspective, I waited patiently 120 hours to see how Lawrence would follow-up to learning about Daniel.
Guys like Lawrence are historically, genuinely good guys who finish last. Lawrence’s are usually the third round pick in the after school kickball game. The guy who girls are interested in, but never have enough edge. The guy with so much potential, that once he realizes it, becomes unstoppable. They’re usually the guys (despite minor flaws) women don’t fully appreciate until they’re gone. Most of us know it as the guy who gets placed in the “friend zone.”
Last night though Lawrence overcame nice guy syndrome. He no longer held the “I want you, but I want you to want me too mindset.” There was a big transition towards the beginning of the episode where I think Lawrence realized his worth. It was the conversation with his homeboy that caused him to do something unexpected. The strip club. Actually going out with his homies. Things nice-guys often lose sight of in the midst of relationship chaos and infatuation. But Lawrence went from third-string pick on the neighborhood kickball team to head coach. All in one episode.
As we’re watching this transition of new Lawrence, Issa is having a melt-down while trying to celebrate her friends b-day. We find her consistently worrying about Lawrence. Checking her phone multiple times, thinking about him constantly. In my honest opinion, I think she deserved everything she had coming. In Game 7 (metaphorically speaking) she picked Daniel to start the game and benched Lawrence. And while it might’ve felt like a home run at the moment, the outcome wasn’t enough to sustain itself through the remainder of the season. I think Issa deserved everything except being led to believe that everything was okay and that Lawrence genuinely wanted to talk. That was pretty foul.
But if I’m being honest, what came next was probably the most unexpected scene and probably my favorite.
The shot of the Best Buy shirt dangling in the closest. It hung abandoned like their 5-year relationship. The shirt held so much symbolism. In this moment we saw the irony of potential. The idea of what something could become with just two to three additional ingredients. But Issa’s lack of foresight may have caused her to stir the pot a little too much. Not tasting what could’ve been with just a little extra Lawry’s and motivation.
This story happens pretty often though. For some reason we never appreciate what’s in front of us until it’s gone. It’s this mindset that the grass is always greener on the other side. But what if we instead watered our own grass a little more instead of worrying about our neighbors? (I know…I’m pretty tired of all my bad analogies at this point too.)
I’m not sure what they’ve got in store for Season 2, but I think I’m hoping that the two of them work it out. And while I’m not expecting some fairy-tale ending, I genuinely think Black millennials need this particular story. There’s a lot of room for growth here. Issa gets promoted at “We Got Y’all” and Lawrence finally launches his app. And then they get back together. Or…Lawrence’s life continues to get better and Issa’s takes a turn for the worse. There’s so many ways this story can go, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out.