Issa Rae: ‘It’s important to show the mundaneness because it shows us as human’


The second season of Insecure premiered Sunday night, after Game of Thrones and Ballers (who watches Ballers??). Insecure follows Issa Rae’s self-named character Issa through a fictionalized take on parts of Issa’s life. Insecure has been called groundbreaking because the lead is a black woman, most of supporting cast is African-American, and it’s not a drama or a procedural show, it’s a character study about one woman’s life, sex, friendship and more. It’s the kind of show that would usually be made about a white woman, honestly. Issa talked to Cosmopolitan about the new season and more – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Cosmo: Insecure also proves that it’s okay to just show the mundaneness of black lives — not everything needs to be about harrowing black suffering, which can be overwhelming.
It’s important to show the mundaneness because it shows us as human, and we don’t get to have those moments of celebrating ourselves. We have a very specific struggle even in the mundane, like with micro-aggressions. But that doesn’t mean the world stops. We still keep moving. We’re so trained to continue.

In Insecure, black female friendship is so important. The bond between Issa and Molly is stronger than ever this season. How did you go about creating this kind of bond between the characters?
It feels like I’m cheating, but I tapped into my real life friendships, you know? I have a lot of best friends and I thought, which of those friends could portray this particular friendship [at the center of the show]? One friend stood out to me because of our dynamic. I always look up to her because I feel like I constantly have to get it together. She always calls me to the carpet when I’m f–king up, but even when I’m f–king up, she has my back. I can say that for a lot of my friends, and to not see that [on screen] — to constantly see black women fighting and plotting against each other, really gets to me because that’s not what I see to be true of my friends.

Let’s talk about sex. Sex is shown so vividly and explicitly on the show. We don’t see scenes in which black people are centered like that often. Were you adamant that, in a technical sense, the camera not pan away from these moments because you wanted viewers to see them?
For HBO, we have so much license to show black people loving and f–king. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of that? We don’t get to see black lust in a normalized and natural way that isn’t hyper-sexualized. Young black people have sex. Sometimes it’s good sex, sometimes it’s bad sex, sometimes it’s revenge sex. There’s so many different facets. It’s such a privilege to show that and it feels so real. The writer in me is always excited to write those scenes. The performer is like, “Oh, sh-t. Why the f–k did I write this because I got to do it?”

[From Cosmo]

You know what this reminded me of? Mindy Kaling talking about The Mindy Project. I know I bring around too many conversations to TMP, but seriously – minus the more explicit sex scenes, this is how Mindy talks about TMP. Women of color are rarely the leads of TV shows, and they’re even less likely to end up the leads of shows which they write/showrun and are given creative license to show the mundane, everyday drama of their lives, whether it’s work drama or sex drama or friendship drama. It is so important to SHOW THAT.


Photos courtesy of Ruben Chamorro/

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19 Responses to “Issa Rae: ‘It’s important to show the mundaneness because it shows us as human’”

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  1. Electric Tuba says:

    I strongly disliked TMP. I think Insecure is far, far better written and the content is way better. Watching TMP I was begging for Mindy to just shut up. Issa I want to hear more from. It’s better than that Girls trash heap of a show too. JMO

  2. Katherine says:

    Movies about the mundaneness of human life are my favorite of all time

  3. CHUNXXX says:

    UGHH! i love this show so much! I wouldn’t mind if Ballers got dropped and insecure got an hour slot.

    • Scotchy says:

      I agree!! It’s really great this season. My only gripe is why did Issa have to lose so much weight? I know I know we are damned if we do damned if we don’t. She looks amazing either way, I just wondered what was up with the drastic loss..

      • TheCassinator says:

        I had the same thought! I’ve been watching her since her show was on Youtube. She is gorgeous (duh), but I don’t know, after the drastic loss, I thought she looked more ubiquitous and less like herself.

  4. Jessica says:

    I agree; I’m black and I grew up comfortably in the suburbs with no harrowing stores to write a novel on (I wish we had went on more family vacas but oh well). I don’t have any crack dealer, drive-by, almost on food stamps stories to tell anyone and I’m sure about 1/3 of the black population are in my boat.

    • Sunsetsnow81 says:

      Hear! Hear! Black Yuppie just living the middle class life. It’s nice to see something we can relate to on screen.

  5. jugil1 says:

    I really like this show. I binge watched the 1st season & was so glad for season 2 to start.

  6. Lauren says:

    I think her YouTube show Awkward Black Girl was much better than Insecure. I wish she had tied up all the loose ends

  7. DesertReal says:

    I 100% agree.
    This is something that I discuss with my husband frequently (I’m African American/Native American and he’s a Caucasian/Italian American). The importance of these kind of shows cannot be stressed enough. Minorities are regular people, just like the majority of people in this country, and its this type of content that helps strip away peoples tendency to otherize us.

  8. Danniegirl says:

    Love love love this show. One of the few shows where I actually laugh out loud. Issa is great and I am glad she has this platform

  9. her highness says:

    Go Issa, she makes me want to tap into myself and write my own story to be told dammit!

  10. Onemoretime says:

    I loved Awkward Black Girl her YouTube series and I am so loving Insecure! I am so proud of her, I feel like a mother seeing her daughter spread her wings! I also love that she cast some of the people from Awkward Black Girl in small parts on Insecure! I loved seeing CeCe and Patty in last weeks episode! Good looking out Issa!!

  11. I Choose Me says:

    This show sounds awesome and makes me wish I still had cable. Suppose I have to wait till it’s on Netflix? Goes off to check.