In the saturated world of television and streaming, “safe” reduces noise and transcends cultural sensibilities. Sunday – after a five-season run – the show ends.
At its core, “Safe” is about a group of Black Millennials trying to find life – their love life, their friendship, their career, things that any young person can relate to. The beauty of the show, in part, is its mediocrity. These are ordinary people, dealing with ordinary things.
“We feel like we’re watching our friends,” said writer Louis Ajay Jones, who has been writing reviews since the show began in 2016.
Of course, “safe” is not the first of its kind. “Julia,” the 1968 NBC sitcom, was the first show to focus on a well – rounded role of a black woman, while shows such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” focused on an individual’s life. A woman is trying to work in her profession. Naema Clark, a professor of cinema and television at Elon University, said that even without a sitcom, “safe” – centered on a group of black women’s friends – was part of that legacy.
But “safe” is very interesting, Clark said, which shows the deep, holistic connections between black women. Ray and the crew behind the show are not ashamed to show how Molly (played by Yvonne Orgy) felt used in her white law firm, or how Isa felt token and frustrated at work.
“You don’t need this understanding of knowledge and support from white friends. No matter how ‘awake’ white friends are, other black women and women of color understand that guidance,” Clark explained. “And I think ‘Insecure’ did it well. It relied on the same structure and tropes of 60s, 70s and 80s shows, but in today’s world where black woman stands culturally there is this element.”
These moments were speckled throughout the five seasons of the show. When Lawrence is pulled over by a police officer. When Isa’s surroundings are increasingly cultivated. Molly finds out that her white male colleagues earn more than her.
Dealing with it just showed the “insecure” well.
With ‘insecure’, there is no need to evoke a visual sense that interacts with everyday and ordinary moments and certain areas of people’s lives with the audience, “said digital lecturer Francesca Sopante. Media at Cardiff University.
Shows such as “Living Single” in the 1990s and “Girlfriends” in the early 2000s also played out at the venue – depicting the life of a group of black friends. However, “unsafe”, its operating system at HBO offered the opportunity to make a different, more sophisticated, dive, Clark said.
“Issa Ray is not afraid to call a thing a thing, and I think that’s what makes the show worth watching,” he explained. “Many of them looked at themselves and said, ‘Who am I, what did I do wrong?’ Isa is not a perfect character. “
“Safe” honestly shows that imperfection. In one episode during Season 2, Issa and a colleague go mainly to educate children in Hispanic schools, but the school’s black principal soon realizes that he is racist against Hispanic students and only highlights their services to other black children. First, Issa dismisses the concerns of her colleagues that they too are involved in that discrimination.
“Sometimes there is a bias in African American society as well, and he shines a light on it (in that chapter),” Clark said. “You rarely see it.”
Other episodes showed the effects of undiagnosed bipolar disorder in relationships, Clark said, which was not shown on TV, especially with black characters. This previously unnamed mapping distinguishes its “safe” counterpart from its predecessors.
But it’s obviously, the quality of the show: the lighting, the writing, the costumes, the soundtrack (Solange Knowles worked as a music consultant). All of this caused “insecure” happiness. You wanted to get lost in this southern LA world, with its blue and gold shades set to hip-hop beats. Who would not?
‘Insecure’ digital phenomenon
Before “Insecure”, Ray first starred in 2011 for his web series “The Miss-Adventures of Aquarius Black Girl”, in which he starred. That show was the key to making her “safe”. This is significant, Sopante said.
He broke it down like this: Shows starring a dark-skinned black woman like Ray are rarely created in the first place. On top of that, the mainstream media tends to look at web series and these unusual ways of creating art and content.
Everything “insecure” – from the roots of Ray’s first web series to its current social media capabilities – speaks to the rise and involvement of black digital culture, Sopande said. That relationship with black digital culture is an important part of the show’s tradition.
“The show is like talking to an audience,” Sopante said.
And for those watching from Ray’s “Miss-Adventures” web series, there is a nostalgia for seeing the ways in which both Ray and the media landscape have changed. For many cast members, their roles of “insecure” are one of their first major television roles, and the cast members are involved in other ways as well. For example, stars Rothwell and Ellis, like cinematographer Ava Berkofsky, made their directorial debut on the show.
“For me, seeing the show’s journey and its creators was incredible,” Sopante said. “It was exciting to watch that show. It was like getting involved in the show itself.”
What ‘security’ leaves behind
Then there’s the show’s time, not because it aired at a point where social media usage is high all the time. (Sopante noted that without social media, “Safe” would have been a very different show.)
The first episode of the show aired in October 2016 – at the height of the presidential election in the United States. About a month later, in the middle of its first season, President Donald Trump will be elected.
“Oh my God, we’ve been in these four years and there is an administration that does not care about us. Worse, it’s really creating problems for us,” he said, adding that it was a difficult time for people of color.
A TV show does not change policies or politics, but “insecure” always shapes the Black experience into a valuable one, Clark said. Getting lost in fluffy storylines – who to hang out with, etc. – was a good distraction. That relief is part of the tradition of the show.
“Sunday was like a little hug,” she said.
In Season 1 review, Ajay Jones predicts that an “unsafe” success will open doors for others on the track. Looking back now, she is right. Due to its success, other shows portray black people in more glorious ways than ever before, and it rejected the notion that people do not watch black stories.
“I think ‘Safe’ put pressure on others to speed up their game,” Ajay Jones said. “I don’t think we’ve known the real depth of the ‘insecure’ impact for a while.”
Still, some of the impacts are already felt. Ajay Jones cited Amazon Prime’s “Harlem” as an example – a show that exemplifies “insecure” as being in New York. While not a joke, Clark used Michael Goyal’s “I Destroy You” as another example of a black woman portraying a true story, as “Defense” did.
Ray’s impact runs even deeper. Clark said her journey is about making art for everyone, but especially young women of color, when it is true to themselves.
“(Ray) knew who she was. And she knew what she could do, and she stuck with it,” Clark said. “I think that way, it’s changed the playing field, it’s shown content creators that there is no way.”
However, the success of such an event as “insecure” does not mean that the media landscape was suddenly democratized, Sopante said. There are still previous issues that have stoned the show like “unsafe”. However the work of Ray and everyone behind the “insecure” will still be inspiring, he said.
From a web series, to the Emmy-nominated success at HBO – how far Ray and the “insecure” team have come. When it ends on December 26th, it will be a sad day for many fans – the nostalgia that many will have and will have for the show is strong, Sopante said.