Written by Sekou Browne
In more ways than one, the highly acclaimed HBO show Insecure has cemented itself in pop culture history. From the music, to the fashion, to the cinematography, to the story’s awkward protagonist Issa Dee (played by Issa Rae), the show gave voice to black life in a way that seemed fresh, authentic, and transformative. And for five seasons, we watched, laughed, cried, cheered and argued as the show oftentimes demanded that we have thoughtful conversations around love, friendship, sex, our careers, and race.
Surprisingly and much to the chagrin of Hollywood and TV producers who often have narrow views of predominantly black casts, the show was able to stay true to itself and the culture while still being totally relatable and garnering much support from non-black audiences. But perhaps the show’s greatest strength was how it presented storylines that realistically found its characters having to navigate situations where we often feel insecure (no pun intended).
If you are a fan of the show, you know that Molly Carter (played by Ivonne Orji) is a lightning rod for drama and often portrayed as “too much” in virtually all areas of her life. However, the show has been deliberate in depicting her family as her emotional touchstone and anchor, which is something that many of us (particularly black folks) can relate to. As we watched, we saw ourselves in the spirited family gatherings and the tough, but playful, interactions between Molly and her brothers. Even more, some could relate to the news about Molly’s Dad’s “affair,” highlighting a reality that all families have secrets buried deep in the closet. And as Molly desperately tried to persuade her parents to get their financial affairs in order, many understood the challenge she was facing.
Like Molly, I remember the challenge my sister and I had in getting my Dad to simply hear us out. Often quick to dismiss it, many parents find it difficult to face their inevitable death and avoid discussing it altogether. Sadly, not having these very necessary conversations means the burden falls on their surviving loved ones. And having a high-power, high earning attorney accessible, like Molly, isn’t all that common. For many of us lacking financial resources, that means we may need Pastor to take up that “love offering” and that we may have to send out some “Cash App us the funds” texts to cover funeral costs.
However, preparing for death isn’t the only thing that needs to be addressed when engaging our parents. As it played out in Insecure, Molly’s mom had multiple strokes, and it took a family effort to nurse her back to good health. That means planning for a time where we may need to care for our parents should be expected. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP in 2020, there were 9.5 million caregivers in the United States between 2015 and 2020. That’s roughly 1 in 5 Americans. And please note, many statistics also reflect that minorities are far more likely to take on caring for an aging loved one, which is something I can attest to having gone through it with both my deceased grandmother and currently with my father. So whether for cultural or spiritual reasons (the Bible says “Honor your parents” in Exodus 20:12), it is definitely wise to mentally, spiritually, and financially prepare for the day where you may have to step up in this manner for your family.
...preparing for death isn’t the only thing that needs to be addressed when engaging our parents.
In either case, it was refreshing to see the show tackle this all too familiar scenario, with relatability, style, and grace, as Insecure often did with difficult subject matters. Moreover, I appreciated the happy ending and seeing Molly’s parent’s finally succumbing and meeting with an Estate Planner which happened to be their friend Kelly (played by Natasha Rothwell). My hope and honest prayer is that this storyline in Insecure wasn’t lost, but as we re-watch, enjoy, and critique this iconic show, we see how once again, it not only helped advance the culture, but that it guided our families forward into these much needed conversations.
Sekou's recent short film, "Inherited," touches on several key issues impacting the black community such as caring for aging parents, mental illness, and the impact from COVID-19.
Get connected with Sekou to learn more about the film's release in coming weeks!
About Sekou Browne
Sekou Browne is a writer and award winning producer based in Houston, TX. His most recent producing works include "Hear our Voices," a documentary film highlighting the experiences of Comcast's black employees, and the riveting documentary piece "School to Prison Pipeline" with Comcast Newsmakers, both of which garnered Silver Telly Awards. In addition, he directed and produced the short film "Keep your flowers," a poetic psychological drama about America's racist past that was selected into 12 film festivals. His writing credits include the short films "Amazing Grace, " "Don't Even Go," and "Inherited," which are currently making their way along the festival circuit. His main goal is to write, direct, and produce meaningful narrative and documentary films that intersect both his Christian faith and race.
Editor: Nia Stringfellow
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