And lo: Almost three full years after HBO tapped acclaimed writer and actress Issa Rae to make a TV show, we finally have our first look at Insecure.
From this tease, Insecure looks to be a more comprehensive version of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, the web series Rae both created and starred in from 2011 to 2013. That series offered an incisive and witty portrayal of life from the perspective of — as you might have guessed from the title — an awkward black girl, in a world that largely has its mind made up on what black women are and aren’t like.
As Rae says in the Insecure trailer: "Black women aren’t bitter; we’re just tired of being expected to settle for less."
With a perspective that TV generally — and sorely — lacks, Awkward Black Girl immediately struck a chord with fans who were thrilled to see a distinctly black experience get the indie-comedy treatment, and the series racked up millions of hits on YouTube. It seemed inevitable that Rae should get a TV show that would allow her to blow out the same kinds of stories and expand them beyond the constraints of a web series, not to mention highlight her skills as both a writer and a comedic actress.
But the process to get from there to an actual series was excruciatingly slow. Before HBO inked a deal for her and co-executive producer Larry Wilmore (now host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show) in 2013, Rae talked to execs who essentially wanted her to make the show less, well, hers.
As per a 2015 New York Times Magazine profile of Rae, before HBO, one executive she spoke with wanted to make her show "into a pan-racial franchise operation, starting with ‘Awkward Indian Boy.’" Another suggested the show recast Rae "with a lighter-skinned actress with long, straight hair — in essence, the exact opposite of Rae."
The road remained rocky even once Rae connected with HBO, as she and the network tried to agree on what the show should be. In that same NYT profile, Rae discussed how being open about her commitment to hiring writers and actors of color — including people she already knew and trusted, even if they didn’t have formal writers' room experience — tended to make network executives balk.
Fast-forward to 2016, and it seems as though at least some of the wrinkles have been smoothed out. Insecure is officially set to debut this fall — premiere date TBD — with a pilot produced by Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Prentice Penny and directed by Melina Matsoukas, who recently helped helm Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
At the very least, this brief trailer confirms the show’s existence. A small victory, but if it means we’re finally getting Rae’s sharp comedy on a weekly basis — and on premium cable, no less — it’s a victory nonetheless.