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#TeamFunctional: On The Messy BreakUp of Issa and Lawrence from HBO’s “Insecure.”

I haven’t seen one episode of HBO’s Insecure yet, and I already know I’m neither #TeamLawrence nor #TeamIssa. I’m #TeamFunctional.

Confession 1: I really had no desire to watch HBO’s new series Insecure.

Confession 2: Keeping with that desire, to this date, I have not watched the first season of Insecure. Not one episode.

However, in the wake of the lively conversation about the show’s season finale — which, judging by the expanse of commentary cropping up online, was savage and left many viewers empty, with gaping mouths — that may change. Very soon. Hurry up and get the rights, Netflix.

Anyway, even though I haven’t actually watched “Insecure,” I decided that it might be fun to put my own two cents in anyhow. And, I do mean two cents. Yay, thinkpieces!

I combed through enough op-eds to zero in on the gist of what the central conflict between the two main characters is about and why, by the end credits, gender battle lines were drawn — #TeamIssa versus #TeamLawrence.

Related: In Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” Sisterhood Is Everything

Still, given the fact that I have not seen the show, I would advise everyone to take what I say with a grain of salt.

The main plot point of the show that seems to have everyone bent out of shape is whether or not it was right or justifiable for Issa to cheat on Lawrence, her longtime boyfriend.

#TeamIssa argues that Lawrence was nothing but a big loser and that his loserness encouraged Issa’s behavior. In the opinion of one writer, Lawrence was “annoying, aimless, and unmotivated,” as well as shiftless and a willing member of the chronically unemployed. It’s a wonder, that writer quipped, that she didn’t bed another man sooner.

At the other end of the relationship spectrum is #TeamLawrence, who — no surprise here — disagrees, faults Issa and argues for their man. From their perspective, regardless of the reasons that motivated Issa to step outside the relationship, there’s no excuse for her actions. Ultimately, her decision caused more problems and heartache than it solved.

That’s the gist; the general, bare-bones overview.

What do I think?

It looks and sounds to me like they’re both wrong. That is to say, I’m neither #TeamLawrence nor #TeamIssa. I’m #TeamFunctional. And, neither one of these persons seems to have been in the right psychic space to smartly maintain a romantic relationship, least of all not one with some degree of duration.

Both Issa and Lawrence appear to be immature and self-absorbed in their own ways, despite the fact that Lawrence pays his bills and holds down an office job. Lawrence was so out of touch that he not only made no attempt to understand how their living arrangement looked from Issa’s perspective, but couldn’t even be bothered to remember her birthday. For Issa’s part, instead of getting a handle on her passive-aggressiveness and ending the relationship, she exacerbated the problem by introducing another man into the mix.

Whether or not black women are more willing to forgive the sexual misdeeds of black men is beside the point. Forgiving your partner, man or woman, for knocking boots with another person doesn’t mean you’ll likely trust this partner anytime soon, or ever again, for as long as you continue your relationship. It’s also likely that going forward in every couple’s quarrel — however big or small — during the post-cheating stage, you’ll hang what happened over your partner’s head for an indefinite period of time.

What matters is that if one or both persons sense friction for whatever reason and are unable or unwilling to effectively communicate what the issue is, then it’s time to invest in professional help or, worse comes to worse, call it quits.

Let me be clear: I see neither “good guys” and “good girls” or “bad guys” and “bad girls” in this scenario, but two flawed human beings whose personal dysfunctions got the best of what they were trying to build.

Hence why I’m #TeamFunctional.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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