Look, I get it. Ever since Mad Men came around, there’s been way too much television to sift through. A lot of it has been phenomenal, but thanks to the ever-popular binge model of television consumption, new shows have been appearing left and right — and disappearing just as fast. As Uproxx‘s own Alan Sepinwall recently opined, it’s a wonder that people still have time to watch these new shows, nurture them and give them the audience they need to become good. Sometimes, however, our modern era’s fascination with binge-watching lets a truly wonderful gem through the cracks.
Like Issa Rae’s comedy Insecure, the first season of which premiered on HBO to critical acclaim. Focusing on the “awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman,” Rae managed to transform her otherwise niche experience on the west coast into a comedic, pop cultural phenomenon — thereby earning the program a well-deserved and unsurprising second season order from HBO. Which is fantastic, for not only will Insecure viewers get to catch up with Issa’s life following her riotous breakup, but they’ll also do the same with comedian Yvonne Orji‘s Molly Carter.
Every show has a scene stealer, and Molly is that character in Insecure. Orji was kind enough to chat with me about her experience filming season two and how it differed from her first time in front of the camera. An accomplished stand-up, she also told me about a recent Atlanta show she did with Chris Rock, who gave her some excellent advice.
Congratulations on the second season. The show sort of exploded last year. What’s the response been like on the set this time around?
We’re all very grateful. While we were doing it, we felt like we were doing something cool, but it’s like the moment you start making a dish. When you’re like, “I think this is so good, but I hope people eat it.” And then you present it and everyone is like, “This is great! Who made this?” At that point we knew they really liked the show. It was very exciting for all of us to experience. We’d found our audience, and we knew they got what we were trying to do.
It was so smart for Issa Rae to tell everyone this wasn’t a show for every black person. We’re not trying to be a catch-all. We’re not trying to be a one size fits all kind of show. What Insecure is about is exactly what it’s supposed to be, and if you liked the first season, hopefully you will like what’s in the second. It feels like the pressure of the first season is gone, though. This happens a lot, especially to shows about people of color. It’s like, “Guys, you have to watch this because if it isn’t good, the network won’t let us make another one. If we won’t have the ratings, we’ll never have another show like this. So please, everyone tune in!” There’s so much pressure, though I think Issa helped take a lot of that away during the first season.
You said it feels like that pressure isn’t there for the second season. Did playing Molly in this world feel easier the second time around, or did Issa and the writers give you a new set of challenges?