Portraying Complicated Friendships on "Insecure" and Beyond

Through the ups and downs of the first four seasons punctuated by the block party in Season four of Insecure, things between Issa Dee (Issa Rae) and Molly Carter (Yvonne Orji) seemed irreparable. With Season five currently airing, it's clear that things between the two are beginning to look up, which is basically what we expected to happen. Sometimes looking inwards at a situation can give a greater sense of understanding than just viewing it straight on as is.

As with much of what's on television, Insecure is imitating the intricacies of friendships in real life. There are unbalanced friendships, ones that are outgrown yet still there, friendships riddled with arguments and ones without, situational and transactional friendships, and then, of course, "for a reason, for a season, and for life."

It's obvious that Issa and Molly's friendship is a lifer, which is possibly why things didn't seem so perpetually doomed when it came to the Season four finale. Yes, things weren't good, but they also weren't bad enough to extinguish a friendship like theirs. And while that sounds corny, things that are corny do have layers of truth to them.

Looking outside of Insecure, it's clear that intricate friendships are no novel concept, both in real life and within other TV shows. Shows like Schitt's CreekFreak and Geeks, and PEN15 all approach it differently, showing the deep nuances in friendships and how a complicated relationship isn't a red flag.

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When David Rose is first introduced to Stevie Bud after moving into the motel at Schitt's Creek, the two meet each other with trepidation. Given their very different upbringings, it seems like they have little in common until they're able to slowly get to know one another through accidental meetups. From David's perspective, it seemed that his friendship with Stevie was purely situational—convenient for the short period of time that it would take his family to get back on their feet and out of town. As that expectation started to veer further and further away, it became clear that his living situation would be remaining the same and that maybe his friendship with Stevie was more than just for a season.

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Freaks and Geeks had a host of complex friendships and relationships, but the two that stuck out were Lindsay Weir and Kim Kelly and Lindsay and Millie Kentner. With the latter, Lindsay and Millie had been old friends since they were kids, but once Lindsay started hanging out with her new group of friends, the two drifted apart—kind of. Millie doesn't fully understand that Lindsay has grown out of their friendship, despite making note of the fact that she's been hanging out with different people. It's almost like she doesn't want to believe that it's true, so she holds on tightly to the minuscule interactions that the two have in school.

On top of that, Lindsay's rocky friendship with Kim was much more unpredictable. With Kim on the offense against Lindsay, who had just joined her group of friends, their relationship was pretty aggressive at the beginning. But when Kim realized that she could use Lindsay to make a good impression on her mother, it became more of a faux friendship, as it was purely transactional. Through that period, the two actually learned more about each other and became closer due to it.

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Towards the end of Season 1 of Hulu's PEN15, Maya Ishii-Peters and Anna Kone were stuck at an impasse in their lifelong friendship. After Anna stayed over at Maya's for a sleepover, she got a little too attached to being a part of the Ishii-Peters family, which angered Maya, sparking a bit of jealousy and betrayal. This resulted in a huge argument and temporary friendship breakup just before the school dance, where they finally were able to reunite.

All of this to say: friendships aren't always as black and white as we'd like them to be. When TV shows like Insecure place a complicated friendship at the forefront of its show, it puts a spotlight on our expectations vs. realities. A perfect friendship isn't one with zero disagreements, and a friendship with 100 disagreements isn't perfect, either. It's the wiggle room in between and beyond that makes a friendship what it is.

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