Issa Rae has made the successful transition from popular YouTube star to Hollywood breakout with her new HBO series “Insecure.” It premiered its first season Sunday, October 9 to rave reviews, with an 84 on Metacritic and 100% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Co-created by Larry Wilmore, the series is about the awkward experiences of the modern-day black woman. I consider it a loose adaptation of her hit web series “Awkward Black Girl” which explored similar themes.
The timing of its debut is perfect as awards season kicks off. I think the show and its star are shoo-ins for Golden Globe nominations, but the question is, can they go all the way? The last time HBO won a series category was in the Musical/Comedy category for the debut season of “Girls” (2012). Its multi-hyphenate star, Lena Dunham, also took home the trophy for Best TV Comedy Actress. Can “Insecure” and Rae replicate that successful haul?
The HBO from four years ago is not the HBO of today. From an awards standpoint, the landscape has changed in a paradigm shifting way. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has a knack for embracing streaming programming, with Amazon being the reigning champ thanks to “Transparent” (2014) and “Mozart In The Jungle” (2015) winning Best Comedy Series. But is “Insecure” the frontrunner this year? There’s competition for being the “new show” with FX’s “Atlanta” in the mix. Also, there’s internal competition with network mates “Divorce” — which is four-time Golden Globe champ Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to television — “Silicon Valley,” and two-time Emmy winner “Veep.”
While the show might struggle a bit in the series category, Rae should easily be able to win Best TV Comedy Actress. The Globes love young actresses in first-year shows. The past two winners are CW stars Gina Rodriguez (“Jane The Virgin”) and Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and previous recent victors that fit this mold are the aforementioned Dunham and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”).
What do you think of “Insecure”? Check out some of the reviews below, and make sure to join the discussion about this show and more in our forums.
Sonia Saraiya (Variety): “With ‘Insecure,’ Rae joins a cadre of performers who have created prestige comedies from the vicissitudes of their own lives, starring themselves in the lead roles. Donald Glover, Pamela Adlon, Tig Notaro, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have all debuted half hours in the past few weeks. But more than any of its contemporaries, or even ‘Girls,’ ‘Insecure’ feels like 2001’s ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary,’ which brought viewers into the messy world of its lead character’s unacknowledged dysfunction and colorful vernacular, punctuated by her own nervous tics and the foibles of her friends.”
Alan Sepinwall (Hitfix): “‘Insecure’ is less inherently dramatic than some of the other Comedies In Theory, which makes the infrequency of laugh-out-loud moments a bigger issue than on, say, ‘Casual,’ but Rae is a really engaging writer and performer, and the series is charming and compulsively watchable.”
Robert Bianco (USA Today): “HBO is promoting ‘Insecure’ as a show that captures the ‘contemporary black experience,’ and while that may be true, the compliment doesn’t go far enough. Like FX’s ‘Atlanta,’ the season’s best new comedy, ‘Insecure’ is fighting, and winning, a two-front war: exploring what’s different about the black experience while reminding us that much of that experience is shared by us all. There’s nothing limited or limiting about ‘Insecure.'”
David Sims (The Atlantic): “The show’s primary strength is its confidence. ‘Insecure’s’ pilot episode focuses on two women, Issa (Rae, playing a fictionalized version of herself) and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji), and their relatively low-key relationship foibles. There’s no huge twist or major trauma to work through; Rae and her co-creator Larry Wilmore are hoping that their focus on deep characterization, and Issa’s delightful, witty internal monologue, will be enough to hook viewers. They’re right. ‘Insecure’ is a lived-in, frequently hilarious gem, one that manages to offer a different entry point into the conversations about sexuality, race, and culture that TV is constantly trying to have.”
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