How the Roseanne reboot inspired Insecure season 3's new show within a show Kev'Yn
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Insecure‘s season 3 premiere, which aired Sunday night on HBO. Read at your own risk!
In season 2, Insecure introduced viewers to Due North, a Scandal-like series set during the Civil War that was must-see TV for the HBO comedy’s characters. Throughout the Emmy-nominated series’ second season, we watched Issa (creator Issa Rae), Lawrence (Jay Ellis), and several other characters as they tuned into the soapy series, which starred Scott Foley and Regina Hall. It was one of several great things about the show’s sophomore year. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and it appears as though Insecure is moving beyond Due North and onto something completely different in season 3.
In the season 3 premiere, which aired Sunday night, Insecure gave fans a new show-within-a-show:Kev’Yn, a reboot of fictional black sitcom. Directed by Living Single’s Kim Fields and featuring performances from Bill Bellamy, Erika Alexander (Living Single), and Darryl Bell (A Different World), Kev’Ynis reminiscent of classic black comedies from the ’90s like Martin and is just as funny (see the show’s Colin Kaepernick joke that punchlines with #KneeToo).
“It was fun to be on set and just watch people who are pros doing this,” Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny tells EW about filming the Kev’Ynscenes with Fields and company.
Penny explains that Kev’Yn was inspired by two things. One day, he and the writers were on set and saw a background actor had a book about writing sitcoms in his pocket. “We just thought it was funny that he was like, ‘I’m not here to get discovered as an actor. I’m here to get discovered as a writer, and they’re going to see me read this book and they’re going to think I know how to write,'” says Penny.
Then, they started talking about how the current wave of sitcom reboots and revivals doesn’t include any black shows. “It was like, ‘Where is our representation?'” says Penny. “They’re rebooting Will & Grace, Full House, Roseanne obviously. We’re like, ‘They can’t reboot Living Single, Martin, A Different World?’ So many of these black shows made these networks what they are today, but when it comes to our value and people wanting to see us, why aren’t we doing Living Single?”
From that discussion, they decided “since nobody wants to reboot a black show, we’re going to reboot our show.” And thus Kev’Yn was born.
“We talked about all the things that used to make us laugh on those types of shows. We talked about how on Martin, Bruh-Man would just like walk in from the door or walk in from the fire escape, but we were like, ‘Oh, our character should walk in from areas you can’t walk in from.’ So we have Lil Chris, who walks in from the refrigerator. Obviously, you can be big and over the top in a different way.”
While Kev’Yn was the result of a joke, it quickly became a way for Penny and the writers to comment on the ways in which the black community is still struggling for representation on television. “I think it just speaks to a larger thing where is our representation in film and television? Even reboots, we can even be rebooted.”
Even though it’s definitely easy to understand if fans miss Due North, the writers’ decision to introduce a new fictional series in season 3 feels very much in line with their desire to defy expectations and keep the show fresh. As Penny previously told EW, “One of the things we tried to do this year, which is what we tried to do last year, was to continually evolve our show. I think the big thing that Issa and I wanted to do this year was to not ever make it feel like if you’ve seen one season of Insecure, you’ve seen a bunch of seasons.”
Insecure airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.