It’s safe to say that the last couple of minutes of Sunday night’s Season 2 premiere of “Insecure” had viewers saying a variation of: “OMG … what … uh, did he just leave with his mail?”
(Warning: the rest of this post breaks down a major spoiler from the episode.)
The second season picks up a couple of months after Season 1 left off. Issa Dee (Issa Rae), in her effort to move on from Lawrence (Jay Ellis), has reluctantly plunged into the dating scene. Her real goal, though, is to find a way to connect with Lawrence — using his mail as bait. But he’s been dodging her attempts. At least, for a while.
In the last few minutes of the episode, titled “Hella Great,” Lawrence knocks on Issa’s door under the guise that he’s there to pick up the mail. But the two end up having quickie sex on the couch.
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“That was something we discussed early on in the writers room — we knew that Lawrence and Issa were going to have sex again,” Rae said. “We were thinking about having it happen later in the season, just because we ended the last season in a place where there was no charge, we thought we needed space. But, given that we start the episode about 2½, three months later, it just felt like once you do that, you get it out of the way, you don't know where things are going to go after that.”
We spoke about the scene with Rae, as well as showrunner Prentice Penny and episode director Melina Matsoukas.
On the emotions ...
“I don't remember the exact moment when we decided to make it [happen] in the premiere, but once we did, we definitely wanted the emotions to be mixed,” Rae said. “We love living in the gray area of things, and we wanted people to have questions after that, and be like, ‘What does it mean?!’ In the same way that Issa would have questions. For Issa, with that small smile that she gives at the end, it’s like: ‘What the ... just happened, but oh [wow], I think I'm about to get him back.’"
“Issa leaves there feeling hopeful,” Matsoukas said. “Although I don't know why, because he just hit it and quit it, and I think he leaves feeling like there's this connection that he has to her that he's not ready to give up yet.
On the details ...
“I was very adamant about the fact that I didn't want it to last long," Rae said. “I didn't want to make it feel like this was a reconciliation. I also didn't want it to feel like revenge sex. It just … There was unfinished business, and [Lawrence] also had to be the one to initiate it, she couldn't initiate it. So once we figured that out, it was just a matter of working it out. I also love that our editor didn't put it to music, either, because that could've also triggered how the audience should feel.
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On shooting the scene ...
“By that point, Jay and I were so comfortable around each other,” Rae said. “We're great about closing the set, because that was the first sex scene we shot. It was within the first week, or maybe the second week. It moved to the second week of shooting, because I had food poisoning the first week. That would have been terrible. So it ended up being the second week of shooting, it was just like we're comfortable around each other. And Jay's always great about being like, ‘You good? You good?’ And just cracking jokes in between takes.”
Matsoukas added: “The first season with sex scenes — it was all of our first time. The first sex scene she had with Daniel [Y’lan Noel] was like her first real sex scene, and mine as a director as well. It was really uncomfortable and still not the most favorite thing to shoot, but we all had this trust. So going into it, we were all used to working together and just this choreography kind of moment that's not very sexy at all, even though hopefully it looks that way. It looked hot, right?
On the couch ...
“The new couch is being put through the journey, “ Penny said. “And I love it because the couch became such a metaphor and we were thinking of ‘How do you use the couch in subsequent seasons?’ The couch means something, the couch is such a physical embodiment of that moment in their relationship. It's symbolic. So for us the couch is very important. So it's like how do we use the couch, the couch is obviously being in the first episode in a way. It'll continue to get used, throughout.
On audience reaction ...
“I've seen it three times now with an audience,” Rae said. “It's so cool to hear them cheer when he turns around to kiss her, and then as the sex happens, they're like, ‘What, what, what? This is weird.’ And then, of course, they're livid. That's something that I didn't imagine. I didn't anticipate audience reaction in that way. I didn't expect them to cheer so loud, obviously, when he turned around. I know people are so divided about the relationship in general.”
Penny puts it this way: “Issa got what her emotions could afford, and I think the same applies to the audience.”