Let’s Talk About Molly

Last year, I took a stand and defended the complex and nuanced relationship Lawrence had with Issa, and himself, in HBO’s hit show, and the one program guaranteed to be the cause of several break ups, Insecure. It was long. But – I think – it provided a good lens on some important issues. Now, I’m back to talk Season 2 with three dedicated takes.

The first essay revisits the leader of #LawrenceHive. This second essay gets up close and personal with Molly. The third is all about Issa

Molly (Yvonne Orji) and Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson) at a bar in a scene from the 2017 HBO dramedy, Insecure.

Molly. Molly, Molly, Molly, Molly, Molly.

Girl.

S2 gave Molly some roundedness that also revealed just how hurt she is on the inside. In the past, S1 illustrated Molly latched onto arbitrary examples of the perfect partner to her detriment. This year however, Insecure honed in on how those arbitrary attachments were choking her emotionally and otherwise. From dating men just because they’re there, to entering an allegedly open relationship with her childhood friend, Molly has been following a compass with no arrow.

In a way, it was refreshing.

Molly of S1 was a stalwart, somewhat static rock to Issa’s life. Despite her man troubles, she was still Molly With The Good Job And The Good Car. As with many Successful, Upwardly Mobile Black Woman characters (see: Mary Jane Paul of Being Mary Jane, Stella of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Shante of Two Can Play That Game, and more), Molly had it all except a good read on who her future Mr. Molly should be. 

That “should” part is examined, briefly and cyclically. In vignettes between Molly and her therapist, it’s suggested that Molly stop living in the subjunctive (“I should have a skrong black man who’s palpably hyper-masculine, but not overtly toxic, who also makes half a million dollars a year and wants to be in a monogamous relationship with just meeeee”) and start living in the indicative (“I could have a good time and experience dating as a series of experiences, because that’s what they are and they are in no way a set-in-stone journey to find a singular man that fits every last one of my arbitrary criteria that I have in no way questioned during my adult life to any significant degree until just recently.”)

These vignettes are refreshing – but, like my own therapy sessions – far and few in-between Molly’s fuckery and actual actions in the real world, the original Unsafe Space™.

In that cold sphere, Molly is busy trying to do…something. We know it kinda has to do with success and happiness. But, what she wants exactly lives in a vague realm whose denizens include the #goals era of stanning for the Obama’s relationship and black travel blog photos taken in some far flung country. On one hand, she’s navigating the general shittiness of corporate America, being looked over in favor of (see: whiter, male-r) coworkers. But on the other, she’s constantly dealing in oxymoronic scenes that feel like a Tyler Perry play. In a word: S2 Molly is in the proven hell of your late 20’s with more losses than wins.

Yvonne Orji as Molly reads a paycheck and is confused, in a scene from the 2017 HBO dramedy, Insecure.

Case in point: despite her passive approach to Issa’s cheating on Lawrence (as potentially justified as your favorite thinkpiecer can make it,) Molly selfishly blows up at her parents when she finds out her father cheated on her mother, 20+ years ago. In the ensuing emotional devolution, she enjoys a good dicking from Dro (WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT BOY’S FULL, GIVEN NAME YA’LL? IS IT ALEJANDRO?), the tall lightskin latinx from round the way that she’s been knowing since high tops and MC Hammer pants.

What follows is a melodramatic tsunami as Molly tries to envision what exactly she wants, and what can she get. The season gives us some hope that she’ll leave this potentially deeply toxic situationship. And there are dalliances with what S1 Molly would consider lesser men, like Quentin, the lovable, black and cooler version of the Schlubby Everyman that Judd Apatow likes to employ in every last one of his movies.

But, the finale shows us that rather than thread the needle with her therapist, Molly chooses to cherry pick her healing techniques. She chooses the indicative, but in the wrong (depending on who you ask) direction: she could have Dro, and so she will and does. The ramifications of course, will probably be laid out in the next season.

I mourn Molly’s personal decisions.

They come at the expense of her own time, energy and the potential healing she could enjoy. By crafting some type of superficial happiness for herself, and then thinking that she’s subverting that arbitrary happiness by choosing Dro, she only proves to us that she’s (now) coochie deep in her dependency on approximate perfection (versus the “pure” perfection of S1) and doesn’t even realize it. It’s an emotional and sexual quagmire that will only swallow her in the messiest way possible. Because c’mon, we’re talking about Insecure here. 

This is however par the course for Molly. S1 was all about her boxes. S2 is about how she throws those boxes out and finally hops in one herself, albeit uncomfortably. While it may seem like the invention of a new cycle, it’s moreso the gradual evolution of the first: she too is driven and wants more, but the things she settles for (a shady situationship with Al B Sure’s Other Son that lights her fire) are even higher stakes than the things she refused to settle for before (Dating men who offer all the perquisites from this one article she read on Madame Noire, but no inkling of passion or inspiration). It’s a shitty situation to be stuck in, but sadly no one is really able to pull her out of it but her (or Candace, if Dro is lying).

Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) walking, in a scene from the 2017 HBO dramedy, Insecure.

Additionally, we can never talk Molly without talking Issa. At its core, Insecure is about the loving relationship between these two women. And, what’s interesting about this season is that it’s shown the less vibrant sides of that relationship. Like Issa’s co-dependency with Lawrence, Molly and Issa are tethered, emotionally and thematically. S2 trades out some of the cut-aways of mutual Black Girl Time for heavier, singular, thematical cinematicals: both women spiral in their personal lives, making aggressively worse choices as they try to find the *right* direction for themselves. While they still maintain some form of trust, the extreme closeness and keeping-it-real intimacy has eroded. Granted, not on the surface, but at key points that are small but crucial.  In spite of better advice from the other, they both barrel forward into headass decisions, finding their way back only when they’re most wounded. Truly, honestly, the braintrust of Missa (Issa-Olly?) that could provide safer routes to better decisions is just not as strong as it should be right now.

It’s an important theme to highlight because it shows that their lives mirror each other and controls the ultimate nature of the show, with their narrative orbits defining how they are, as people, emotionally, sexually and otherwise. And, while their decisions heavily affect their immediate lives, these actions also cause their friendship to suffer. By not being there for each other in real, meaningful – consistent – “Malibu” ways, they’re slowly drifting apart.

One could argue this is a off analysis, per Molly’s stay-at-home Moroccan trip for Issa or the various check-ins they do have through the season. But I’d argue that if you counterpoint these moments with the larger arcs of their individual decisions, especially as they pertain to the finale, there’s more than enough evidence to show that Molly and Issa are on shakier ground because of the things they’re *not telling each other.* A rift built on what isn’t said is coming, and it may bode not-so-good for both women in Season 3. 


these boots mine.Dap owns Timberland boots and is committed to loving black women, eating good food and diversifying media as he sees fit and while he can. He can be found yelling into the abyss and being snarky on the following:  IG | Twitter