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‘Insecure’ debuts its third season with every character having trouble with adulting

Issa Rae may have given us a new man to root for, but she’s not going to make it easy

Are mid-adulting crises a thing?

According to the third season of Insecure, the answer is definitely yes.

It’s easy to see why: Listening to your ex have extremely vigorous intercourse while you’re crashing on his couch is the sort of thing that will make almost any person take stock of her life. And while Issa’s stock isn’t in free fall, it’s definitely looking shaky.

Everything is in transition for Insecure’s millennial brat pack, which returns to HBO Sunday night. Unable to afford the apartment she shared with Lawrence (Jay Ellis), Issa (Issa Rae) is now driving for Lyft in the hours that she’s not on wholly unfulfilling desk duty for We Got Y’all. Oh, she’s struggling to find an apartment because her credit score is in the toilet.

Meanwhile, Molly (Yvonne Orji) is beginning to have doubts about her transition to an all-black law firm that hasn’t kept up with the times, technologically speaking. She’s trying to establish clearer boundaries with Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson). And Daniel (Y’lan Noel), Issa’s perpetual What If Guy, finds himself frustrated with the lack of upward trajectory in his career as a producer. Everyone, it appears, is getting in their own way.

The first four episodes of this season consist of a lot of narrative development, and I suspect the show will continue its record of backloading the season with drama. In the meantime, Insecure teases its audience with plenty of eye candy captured from the show’s distinctive female gaze. Issa’s hard up for satisfaction though, with the poor woman characterizing her lady bits as “dry” and “sandy.”

And just as last season introduced the show’s audience to the black wealth concentrated in Baldwin Hills, this season moves to Leimert Park, a historic cornerstone of black creativity in Los Angeles.

Insecure really hums when it’s focused on the non-romantic parts of Daniel and Issa’s will-they-won’t-they relationship. Until now, we haven’t seen why the two of them keep drifting apart and coming back together. But their shared love of music teases the possibility for a fulfilling professional partnership that could be beneficial to both of them.

But this is Insecure, which never loses sight of the fact that its grown-ups are stumbling through life like wobbly legged Bambis. With Lawrence gone, Rae may have given us a new man to root for, but she’s not going to make it easy to get to him.

Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior culture critic for Andscape. She writes about pop culture, fashion, the arts and literature. She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life.