Credit: Anne Marie Fox/HBO
Issa Rae - Insecure

Every week, the cast and crew of HBO’s Insecure — the new series based on Issa Rae’s successful web series — is taking EW behind the scenes of each episode. This week, Rae herself walks us through the season one finale, “Broken As F—.”

On the ups and downs of Molly and Issa’s friendship

Molly and Issa have been calling each other out on their sh-t since the pilot. In fact, in the first episode, they have a blow up about Molly feeling like Issa exposed her “broken pussy” insecurities and Issa feeling like she’s been living for everybody but herself. This was something that continued to silently stew for both of them as they watched each other’s actions play out over the season, and so it felt natural to have it all boil over during a moment where they were both at lows. I think only your real friends can tell you the truth in a way that cuts deep, but that you need to hear and, in this case, they were both triggered with the truth and lashed out with low blows. We always knew that it would hurt to have them fight, but their friendship is so strong that it could withstand a little hard truth. They’re not frenemies; they actually need each other and they love each other — so we knew they’d make up.

On the significance of the couch in Insecure

One of our writers pitched the couch being on the curb throughout the season as a long running joke, and then we recognized how representative it was of Issa and Lawrence’s relationship and their past, and intentionally used it to convey that. Even though Issa and Lawrence resolved to make it work, the fact that the couch remained there was a lingering reminder that their relationship hadn’t truly made it out of the weeds yet. Replacing the couch was a temporary band-aid, but they needed more than a new couch to repair years of unsaid things in their relationship. To us, the couch represented a fresh start that was never really fresh. We were so excited to come up with the idea of Issa and Molly sitting on the couch together at the end of the season because their relationship is truly the core of the show, and to have Molly sitting on the couch with Issa at end shows how they were the only ones who were ever truly “in this” together.

On the final fight scene between Lawrence (played by Jay Ellis) and Issa

Man, that fight scene was brutal. Jay is such a great guy and was always in good spirits and just genuinely friendly. Throughout the day, we knew we had to film this scene and then right before we had to shoot, we just weren’t talking to each other. He was in his zone and I was in mine, but once in a while I would just longingly glance over at him and feel for him. It felt like I truly crushed his soul in every take and he was just soooo great at conveying that hurt and betrayal, that the tears came easily for me… that is until take 10, where I did the last wall slide and told Kevin (our director) that I had run out of tears. Unfortunately, since we shot that scene so late at night, Jay and I just hugged it out and went home. But on the bright side, it was one of the first scenes we shot for that episode, so we got all of that emotion out of the way and were able to shoot the rest of the episode in jolly peace.

On coming to the decision in the writers’ room that Lawrence would leave Issa

This was also something we discussed in the room. The idea of a woman cheating is so bewildering for a lot of men; like it’s a huge mark of betrayal for them in a way that’s kind of a double standard. I remember writing a film when I was younger and part of it had a woman cheating for reasons of lust and weakness. The executive who read it told me that a lead woman could not cheat because it makes them immediately unlikeable. He strongly believed that women could not come back from cheating and I remember thinking how unfair that was, because I watched shows and movies where women forgive men for cheating all…the…time. It was also important to me to have Issa cheat precisely at a moment where Lawrence wasn’t necessarily at fault; where it wasn’t about him, it was about her. I think we always think that a man has to do something for a woman to cheat, and this was very much about Issa and her decision to be “aggressively active” for once. She just failed to think about what she would lose in the process.

But even discussing it in the room, a lot of men felt like Lawrence would not be ready to take her back so easily — he never imagined that Issa, the woman he had grown to love and trust, would do this to him and would not be ready to take her back so easily. For that final scene where he goes back to his complex, seeing Thug Yoda and the old couch, then stepping into his old apartment felt like a regression to him. In a way, he would rather leave than face the hurt and Issa’s transgressions. I think for him, being in that environment, knowing that he had vowed to commit to this girl just a month or two before, was just too much to forgive at that point.

On what’s next for Lawrence and Issa

I think we saw Issa at the beginning of this season decide to take life into her own hands and be active at all costs. We saw her make some pretty selfish and harmful decisions as result and, as the season progressed, we saw her appreciate some of what she already had in her life and to see her own fault in the things that weren’t going her way. I think this next season will see her start to ask more introspective questions. I think the break up will hit both Lawrence and Issa pretty hard and I think break-ups are rarely ever clean, especially for couples who lived together. So we know that Lawrence won’t be completely out of her life forever. We’re also really excited to develop what Issa and Molly possibly being single together looks like.

And lastly, on filming in that incredible house

That. House. Was. Amazing. It had so many rooms and the beach was right there. I remember being so hype to shoot the jacuzzi scene because it got cold at night. I also had my own little room during the day with one of those fancy toilets with all of the buttons that can warm and spray your ass, on command. My biggest regret was being too basic to figure out how to work it, though. Being in Malibu was amazing, the on-set writers and I actually rented a house overnight to drink wine and to celebrate filming our last episode. It was really special and fun to work with everyone on this show, from the writers to the cast to the crew. And it’s so damn cool how invested our audience got! I’m so appreciative that we get to do it again for season 2!

Issa Rae - Insecure
  • TV Show
  • 5