Issa and Molly: A Complicated Friendship All too Familiar
You walk into school on the very first day- unsure of yourself. You don’t know anyone. Then, you look across the room, and you lock eyes with someone who seems to know exactly what you’re feeling. That one chance encounter turns into years of laughter, tears, secret-sharing, and bonding. Years of friendship are created from one conversation. Friendship is a precious bond which should not be underestimated. You’ll find yourself being more vulnerable with your friends than your lovers or even your family. You can find a better brother, sister, or cousin in a friend than those who share your blood.
Displaying the beautiful nuances of adult, female friendship has been a constant theme of the HBO show Insecure. Kelli and Tiffany, and most importantly, Molly and Issa have all been at the center of this story, weaving through life’s struggles together. Even the male friendships have received increasing attention, exploring the relationship between Lawrence, Chad, and Derek. Friendship is the very core of this story, and it seems to have come to a monumental head this new season.
To fully understand this story, we have to go back to season one (2016.) When you first meet Issa Dee (played by Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (played by Yvonne Orji), like the title show and the name of the episode, Issa is “Insecure AF.” And so is Molly. It shows in their work attitudes and their dating lives. It’s been a while since I thought about We Got Y’all, but I can never forget Issa’s passive-aggressive, white-savior minded coworkers. With their white emails, white secret meetings, and refusal to actually hear what Issa has to say, that job was a major contributor to Issa’s unhappiness. On the other hand, Molly seemed like the confident, lawyer, bad-bitch extraordinaire. But take a closer look, and she was no happier at her law firm. She’s silently praised for assimilating and not being like “the other black girl” of the firm. She was the one her coworkers mentioned when they said they knew a black person in public conversation, and let’s not forget she found out Brad or Todd (don’t care to remember his name) was making more than her at a lower position! Their love lives were no damn better, either. While Molly struggled finding Mr. Right- or hell even Mr. Alright- Issa’s own Mr. Right had turned into an emotionally draining couch potato. Molly and Issa have always been inverted mirrors of each other.
Since that first episode, audiences have watched these two women fall face first into that LA asphalt too many times to count. From Molly’s many bad dates to Issa cheating on Lawrence and her life falling apart. These women have braved the war of life in some of its ugliest forms, but they were never alone. They always had each other to fall back on, and so things never seemed as bad as they were. Those continuous falls were not without reason, though. Issa and Molly have come out better every season, and it seems like they’re both at the best places in their lives this season. They both left their tired ass jobs and found an environment where they could finally challenge themselves and thrive. Issa has found happiness in casual relationships (RIP TSA bae), and she’s finally moved on from the heartbreak of season one. While Molly seems to have actually found something good and worth fighting for with Andrew. With all the growth and happiness these women seem to have found, why is it that they can’t seem to share that with the one person they should be sharing it with- their best friend?
I’ll tell you why.
Friendship is like a red rosebud. So delicate and beautiful, it brings you comfort, happiness, and love. But without nurturing- without water, sunlight, and proper room to grow- the rosebud never will. It will stay stagnant while everything else changes, and eventually, it will die. Molly and Issa haven’t been perfect- no person is. They’ve had petty arguments and crossed wires, but there is no doubt that they’ve continued to water and give sunlight to their little rosebud friendship. They call each other out with love. They’re there for each other wholeheartedly. What they’ve been missing is the proper room to grow. They’ve kept their growing rosebud in its same starter planter, and no matter what storms they’ve weathered, no matter the growth they’ve accomplished, no matter how much they water, they’re boxed in with each other.
“It’s like when someone has all these memories and images of you from a long time ago and that impacts their reality. It’s a history where they feel like they know everything about you, and they don’t let you move on. They still hold you to things you did when you were younger as opposed to seeing where you are going.” – Prentice Penny (showrunner.)
Molly and Issa can’t see each other for who they are now. All they see of each other is what they once were, and they judge each other based on passed selves. It’s almost like they don’t think their own best friend is capable of growth, and that gross undermining was an explosive catalyst to a growing delicate situation.
Just minutes into the first episode of Insecure’s brand new season, and we see Issa lying on her couch on the phone, when she says, “Honestly, I don’t fuck with Molly anymore.” With that opening statement, I remember jumping up off my couch screaming What the Fuck! I’ve always hated when Molly and Issa fought in the past because it always felt all too real, and this season really only stepped up its impact. Through all this season’s Condolences mess, Tiffany’s pregnancy, and more, the main focus has definitely been Molly and Issa’s. The strongest and longest relationship either woman has ever had seems to be coming to a very bitter end. Episode 1, Molly thinks she’s doing Issa a favor by “calling her drama out” in the middle of Issa’s event. Episode 2, Issa returns the favor and ruins Self Care Sunday. From then on, it has been nothing but tit for tat with these two. And even when they call it out and agree to talk through things, Issa bails at the last minute. Unresolved issues came to the forefront at Issa’s block party, and the two women had their biggest blowout yet. I was digging my nails into my couch watching Molly and Issa fight at her block party. My heart was racing, and I felt like it was my shit being put on the spot. Instead of having a productive conversation, they threw the nastiest words they could at each other, with only the aim to outdo the other in pettiness.
If you’re caught up with the latest episode of Insecure, then you know that Issa is feeling the weight of those words. And sure enough, I’m sure in the next episode we might find that Molly is actually feeling the same way. Issa is deciding if it’s time to move on or if she should fight for her dearest friendship. Whatever they decide, I do hope the two girls talk things out. Even if the friendship is destined to end, knowing how much they love and care for each other, there’s no reason why it should end the way it did.