Black USC students reflect on how ‘Insecure’ has helped them navigate their 20′s

As the final season of HBO’s hit series ‘Insecure’ airs, students discuss what the show means to them.

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As a young Black woman originally from Windsor Hills—a city much of the show is filmed in— “Insecure” was instantly a binge watch for me. I would stay up until 4 a.m. laughing and anticipating the next episode. The raw and perfectly authentic hit series is different from any show I have ever seen before, and many others agree.

“Insecure” focuses on the 20 to early 30-year-old experience of Black individuals, specifically in Los Angeles. As the final season aired six weeks ago, Black USC students were eager to discuss their thoughts on the series and the impact it has had on them.

Jasmine Sparks, a junior business administration major, pointed out that in a scene in the second episode of the new season, “Growth, Okay?!,” you can see USC’s Fertitta Hall in the background. “I was like oh my God, I might have been in class, who knows,” she laughed.

She explained that she sees much of herself in Issa Rae’s character “Issa Dee.”

“I feel like normally the way we get casted is always very confident, beautiful Black women, which is great,” Sparks said. “But to see a Black woman who’s not always sure of herself and kind of awkward and insecure. I just resonate a little bit more with that.”

Sparks explained that watching Issa Dee navigate being unfulfilled by her work, inspired a dramatic change in her life.

“I had to make a change because I was like, I don’t like what I am doing right now. And if I don’t change this now, I’m going to regret it.” Sparks switched from the consultant finance track to a more creative side of business, and is now working for a fashion company.

Sparks is excited to see Molly’s fate in the final season. “What’s really beautiful about Molly is she changed both externally and internally,” she said. “She always used to have a lace front or long braids, but now she’s just rocking her natural hair and I think that speaks a lot to her character this season and the place she is in.”

Anna Sara Mehouelley, a junior PR major who works for Issa’s publicist, has watched the show more than once. During her second round of viewing the series, she noticed much of what was happening in the show was mirroring her life and explained that the show gave her advice on how to handle her situation.

“Issa’s show ‘Insecure’ is the after effect of her working so hard to create a brand of the awkward Black girl,” Mehouelley said. “I think what I can say from working with her is that she definitely is exactly the same Issa in the show. They act the same, they talk the same like nothing about it is different.”

Trevor Trout, a senior journalism major, has a different outlook on the show; he doesn’t think it is good television.

“It’s a really easy show to get through, the episodes are less than an hour, and there’s a lot of things in the show that Black people just do not do,” he said. His critique is that many of the scenarios are unrealistic, always ending on a positive and practical note.

However, Trout does recognize the show’s uniqueness in terms of showing a “different side to Black people.” He touches on the fact that many “Black” shows have storylines that are “overdone,” referencing Starz’s “Power” and “Black Mafia Family,” shows that highlight violence, drugs, and poverty in the Black community.

Isaiah Mobley, a junior forward for the men’s basketball team and a real estate development major said he was first attracted to the show because it is realistic and inspiring.

“It made me feel more accepted I guess,” Mobley said. “Some of the things Issa would think while she was in the mirror is something I could relate to, like ‘oh other people do think like me.’”

Mobley believes being native to Los Angeles makes the show much more relatable for him. He also thinks “Insecure” is great for people of all races as it can help to be a tool for individuals to better understand the Black experience.

Jamilah Muhammad, a sophomore business major appreciates the fact that “Insecure” doesn’t stress being Black as a keypoint of the show, relating it to how other shows “don’t feel like they have to represent a certain type of white person.”

She sees a piece of most “Insecure” characters within herself, which makes the show funnier for her. “Seeing them grow, notice their toxicities and address the fact that they need to become better, reminds me to check myself and be self aware,” Muhammad said.

So far in season five, Muhammad said she resonates with Kelli’s character being the designated funny friend.

“I feel for her,” Muhammad said. “Just because she’s a funny girl, doesn’t mean you cannot be serious or that your feelings aren’t valid.”

In season 4 episode 8, Noelle Mahasin played the girlfriend of one of Issa’s ex sneaky links, better known as “TSA bae.” When Issa and her longtime on-and-off again boyfriend Lawrence started to talk again and went out to dinner, the four of them ran into one another in a hilariously awkward scene. She explained that ahead of filming the scene, the four of them sat together and established a rapport.

“We got a chance to have a lot of fun with improv, things that they didn’t actually keep, but… it was a really cold night so being in good company, and being able to share some laughs kind of offset the weather,” Mahasin said.

She enjoys that the show highlights college educated individuals, people who are working to advance social issues and building up the LA community that she has always called home.

Mahasin, like many other loyal “Insecure” watchers, is invested in the show; especially it’s relationships and how things are going to pan out. With half of the season out and only a few episodes left, fans are expecting big things before the finale.

With lessons left to be learned, Insecure has created a safe space for young Black individuals to be vulnerable, and are appreciative of what the show does for the community.