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The Insecure Finale Is a Tribute to Issa and Molly’s Love Story


Spoilers for Insecure below.

Insecure’s series finale wasn’t going to go by without a Lawrence vs. Nathan debate. The on-and-off love story of Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Martin Lawrence Walker (Jay Ellis)—yes, that’s his full name—has caused mass Internet debate, complete with passionate fandoms, since season 1, with millions of viewers weighing in on who Issa should end up with. It’s almost enough to distract from the fact that Insecure’s main relationship isn’t even a romantic one. The show has always been about the enduring love and friendship between Issa and Molly, and how they’re soulmates, beyond their hook-ups and boyfriends and, now for Molly, husband.

The structure of the final episode emphasizes this, focusing on the bond between Issa, Molly (Yvonne Orji), Tiffany (Amanda Seales), and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) as they travel cross-city and cross-country to celebrate each other’s birthdays. The quartet promised to do so at Tiffany’s farewell party in the penultimate episode, and the finale shows a semi-successful attempt. (Tiff and Molly both miss celebrations, with the assumption that life gets in the way.) At the top of the episode, when Issa’s confronted with an extra-salty Mirror Bitch–her own psyche dragging her choices–she says, “I just wanna fast forward to the part of my life when everything’s okay.” It’s telling that those moments when she’s happiest are when she’s surrounded by her girls (and Lawrence).

We have to address it: Lawrence Hive won. (Though I’m not sure if it’s because he ended up with Issa, or because he was the last man standing.) Personally, I would’ve been happy if the show ended with Issa single and successful, or maybe with a new man, rather than going back to her ex. From a storytelling point, it does make sense that Issa and Lawrence would be endgame, after we’ve become so invested in both of the characters. Also, their reunion isn’t as simple as “going back to an ex” after last season’s “Lowkey Happy” saw them discuss their breakup maturely. At least they’ve been proven to communicate, unlike Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), who shuts down in the moment and only shows up ready to talk months after their split. Now that Lawrence and Issa have chosen each other, in the final scene featuring the couple and Lawrence’s son Elijah Mustafa, Issa does look happy.

insecure season 4

Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Issa (Issa Rae) 

HBO

insecure season 5

Issa (Issa Rae) and Nathan (Kendrick Sampson)

Merie Weismiller WallaceHBO

A lot happens within “Everything’s Gonna Be, Okay!?” through flash-forwards: Molly’s meeting Taurean’s (Leonard Robinson) family, Kelli’s having a baby, Issa’s company The Blocc is thriving. Though we don’t get a solid answer, it seems like Issa made her partnerships work with both the water brand NBW and designer Crenshawn (Kofi Siriboe), well enough to have an official office space and add another employee. Some of the updates are a bit jarring—Kelli’s transition to a position at Molly’s firm, which had been foreshadowed, lands smoother than the surprise pregnancy—but the fast pace is pretty true to life. A lot can change in between birthdays.

Molly’s story also has a happy ending, though not without pain. Her mother’s death and her moments of grief were the heaviest parts of an expectedly-nostalgic episode. This season has deftly handled her mom’s declining health and her family’s estate planning, and we could feel Molly’s sorrow in her second birthday of the episode. The tribute at Molly and Taurean’s wedding was a lovely culmination of a season showing how important family is to Molly, just as she’s starting her own.

Molly is her happiest self with Taurean, in a relationship that feels easy, and her gorgeous wedding reflects that. We also see how happy Issa is for her. As Issa looks at her BFF enjoying the reception, you can imagine her thinking back to self-doubting season 1 Molly. The full-circle moment for their friendship comes after the party’s over, when Issa’s helping Molly out of her dress in the bathroom. In a raw, intimate conversation, Molly thanks Issa for everything, “for loving me while I was me.” They’re both in tears. As long as they’re together, in this friendship that has been through it all, they’ll be okay.

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Tiffany (Amanda Seales), Molly (Yvonne Orji), Issa (Issa Rae), and Kelly (Natasha Rothwell)

Merie W WallaceHBO

Mine surely aren’t the only tears that fell during the end montage as it flashed through the first season locations, including We Got Y’all and The Dunes. The scene could read as “look how far Issa and Lawrence have come,” but it’s more like “look how far we all have come”—the characters, the fans, everyone watching. Over five seasons, Issa and Molly have embraced the mess of growing up and have been there for each other, and we’ve been there for them.

Insecure leaves a lasting legacy: The show is a love letter to female friendships, Blackness, hip-hop and R&B, South L.A., messiness, and grown woman shit. It’s universal and specific at the same time. It redefined Black L.A., including my own hometown of Inglewood, CA, just as much as a new stadium could. It has changed the game for Black TV, empowering filmmakers both within and outside of the cast and crew to tell honest, hilarious stories about their worlds.

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