Recently a group of friends and I were discussing Issa Rae’s Insecure like I assume most people do. Deep conversations concerning the intricacies of Issa and Lawrence’s failing relationship, choosing sides and arguing over who is at fault or who is more “trash” than the other. That conversation really had me thinking about the character of Lawrence and his current inner conflict. Lawrence as a character perfectly depicts the mindset of young black men today. His confusion, his inner conflict, his general lost demeanor is exactly how many of us would act in his current situation. Our pride vs our emotions. Two opposing forces constantly battling each other for dominance, and unfortunately, it’s our pride that usually wins in most cases. I think Insecure is as successful as it is because it shows humans as they are, imperfect beings. Although Lawrence’s character is the one who suffered, he still isn’t without fault and I feel Issa Rae writes every character like that; if we’re looking at all the characters as a collective they’re all pretty much on the same level: they do things right, they do things wrong, they’re real.
This season Issa Rae shows a narrative that I’m not sure that we see too often on TV. Rather than the black man cheating in the relationship, roles have been flipped, it’s the black woman this time. It’s very interesting to see the differences between how black men and women on TV react to being cheated on. When Viola Davis and Naturi Naughton were cheated on in Fences and in Power, I feel they knew how to handle their emotions a lot better, whereas Lawrence does not. We often see him rewriting and deleting texts because he simply does not know what to say, or he doesn’t want to come across a certain way; which I’m pretty sure all of us have done a couple times in our lives. I think this says a lot about black men in general, and how detached we are from our emotions, which I think is the main reason we can connect with Lawrence or why we are ‘Team Lawrence’. When it comes to a situation like his we get so lost and don’t know how to act nor how to feel, hence why we usually succumb to our pride.
I feel like we often make mistakes because we’re brought up with society’s stereotypical ideal of what masculinity is, whenever we felt we were being too sensitive or emotional we would be told to “be a man and get over it”; so I feel we were never really taught how to react in these type of situations.
At the end of the day, we’re humans and emotions come with the package and I don’t think society enables us to deal with those, especially as young black men. Society portrays us like we’re emotionless thugs: lust, violence, and rage personified, so I think having young black male characters like Lawrence in situations like this is really progressive because it shows us that it’s okay to be emotional sometimes and connect with your feelings because it happens to everyone. Obviously, we should probably handle these situations a bit better than Lawrence currently is, but hey if he doesn’t show us what not do, then who will. This isn’t one large excuse for the reason we do the dumb stuff we do, nor is it my promotional pitch for why you should be Team Lawrence, this is simply a piece to say why we should have more characters like Lawrence on TV, more real life narratives concerning black relationships and more seasons of Insecure.