Film / TV

Insecure: An Ode to Letting Go

December 23, 2022

We did it Joe! As we approach the end of the year, reflections are neatly summed up and packaged. Spotify Wrapped encourages you to consider your listening habits for the year. TikTok celebrates moments or trends that occurred throughout 2022. Apps like BeReal make short, snappy videos, collating your memories. Artist Peniel Enchill’s drawing of the woman stepping into the new year starts circulating online. The recurring themes around this time are reflection, nostalgia and to some, letting go. 

When it was announced that the 5th season of Insecure would be its final, many were shocked. Show creator and executive producer, Issa Rae was not. Ahead of the season’s rollout, she stated how 5 seasons was always the goal. ‘I like shows that I can watch with endings. I like to leave when I feel at my high. Don’t overstay your welcome is a big motto.’ The show’s ending not only allowed the cast and crew say farewell on their own terms but also opened the door for opportunities and interests to be explored by all involved. 

Insecure aired for 5 seasons from 2016 till 2021. Over the course of its run, we saw Issa navigate love, friendship, careers and ultimately build her own community, balancing her different relationships with her peers across the years. One of my favorite storylines however falls in its 3rd season. Season 3 episode 4, titled ‘Fresh-Like’ continues to hold a special place in my heart. It’s the episode where Issa finally quits her job at We Got Y’all. 

In the spirit of letting go and reflecting, I think of how I walked away from my job a month ago. The numbness of quitting without the soft cushioning of something else, something stable, something there, left me wallowing in bed and unable to tell my parents for another 2 weeks. I don’t regret quitting but I am plagued with the reality that I am back again in a place I didn’t think I’d be for a long time; unemployed. Even worse, this was by my hand and of my volition. There is the need to earn money and be productive in the hopes of affording the basic necessities that money powers, alongside the comfort of having something there. Employment continues to be a part of my identity irrespective of whether or not I enjoy the work. I hate it but here I am, still firing off application after application to bring me closer to the goals I see for myself. 

Earlier in October, journalist Haaniyah Angus wrote of the effects of the pandemic on the younger generation and the pressure to stay in jobs longer than necessary. Ultimately, she does touch on her (and others’) decision to leave. Similarly, I am grateful for this Insecure episode and the directorial decisions that show the reality setting in for Issa. The knowledge of knowing it’s time to leave but not quite knowing how to get to where you need to be. I think of Issa’s trajectory and thoughts of failing alongside friends in high powered careers and seemingly functioning ease. But most importantly I think of the freedom of that scene, of Issa walking out of We Got Y’all and the freeness in the smile on her face. Issa does fumble for a while but she eventually finds her feet and we watch this play out in its final seasons. 

It makes me adore this episode even more. While Issa does soar, we see the journey it took to get there. Here is the reality of tough decision – making; the struggle to let go. Issa ponders on memories and the once treasured items of her past. Here is the distinction and decision of what’s worth keeping and what’s had its time. The use of music in this scene is excellent, a reminder of sound as an outlet that speaks to experiences. Mahalia’s Sober (Jarreu Vandal remix) plays in this scene as Issa finally trashes the items that no longer require space. Her soundtrack for quitting sees her walk out of the building, Janelle Monae’s I Like That, playing in the background. As the year comes to end, I am yet another voice encouraging you to know when things have had their time. I am thankful to Insecure for this episode as one of its many moments in its run that encourages release. Here is a well crafted ode to knowing it’s time and stepping out into the unknown.

The soundtrack for the episode can be found on Tunefind

Image credit: Merie W. Wallace