2016 series premiere of Not safe opens with Issa Dee (Issa Rae) nervously standing in front of a group of mean-spirited students who are probing her personal life. When faced with invasive questions – “Why are you talking like a white girl?”; “Are you single?”; and “Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?” Issa tried to maintain her composure. She is visiting the middle school classroom as a representative of We Got Y’all, an after-school enrichment program run by a white woman with the vague desire to help black children. in the Los Angeles area. It wasn’t the job she wanted, but it was the job she had, and another difficult day led her to ask, via dub, “How different would my life be if I actually went?” According to what I want?”
This existential question has guided four seasons of the critically acclaimed HBO series, which deftly chronicles Issa’s life as a 20-year-old black professional in Los Angeles. It’s a question that lingers in her mind as she thinks about breaking up with her boyfriend, Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and quitting her job. It reveals increasingly tense conversations with her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), which culminates in a painful breakup in the fourth season. It even influenced the arcs of other characters, personifying the often haughty Tiffany (Amanda Seales) and developing Kelli (Natasha Rothwell), a Kelli (Natasha Rothwell). Go after what you want eventually became the show’s discreet motto.
Move with confidence and its signature aesthetic elegance.
As we watch Issa, Molly, Lawrence, Kelli, and Tiffany break up, make up, get drunk, cry, kiss, the show shifts its central question away from pure action (how to pursue those things). what you want) and switch to meditation (wait, what do you really want?). This rearrangement has certainly strengthened the series, allowing the writers to create narrative circuits that are more persuasive and influential to our deeper understanding of the characters. That view, combined with Not safeThe lush visual language, and the right choice of music, made the series a force – even if it faltered. Now, with a highly anticipated fifth and final season (of which critics received the first four episodes), the team behind Not safe, which includes Rae, host of Prentice Penny and director Melina Matsoukas, affirms the series’ legacy as an elegant and confident depiction of a particular kind of Black millennial experience.
In “Reunited, Okay?!”, the first episode of the new season, Issa returns to her alma mater for an uncomfortable 10-year reunion. It’s been weeks – maybe months – since Issa and Molly reunited cautiously at Merkato Ethiopian, the couple’s favorite restaurant, at the end of season four. When they saw each other at Stanford, wearing equally matching wristwatches, their interaction stalled, clearly burdened by the painful truths they exchanged. Bringing the duo – whose friendship is at the heart of the series – to where they met was a smart way to start their reconciliation process. This change, however, seems a bit too easy for a show that binge-watches wrestling with the messiest parts of close relationships.
Molly and Issa are in two different places when they meet again. Molly has committed to working back into herself and her weekend goal is to stay present. There’s a refreshing twist to her character, who, since her heated and entertaining argument with Andrew (Alexander Hodge), has become more self-aware of her controlling tendencies. me. Issa returns to campus not only as a nostalgic-seeking graduate student, but also as a member of the board of alumni entrepreneurs.
This all-expenses-paid offer confirms her professional advancement, although Issa herself remains uncertain about her path. In the bewildering and bewildering one-on-one discussion, in front of an audience very different from the one she faced in the first episode of the show, she answered a question similar to that of the students. junior high school students. “I don’t know if I’m on the right track,” Issa replied with her trademark frankness. “Honestly, there’s no way to be sure you’ve made the right choice.” She is no less out of place than when we first met her, but there is a firmness in her answer that hints at a growing confidence.
As with previous episodes, Not safe opened the final season by deftly balancing heavier themes with lighter moments. Issa, Molly, Kelli, Tiffany and Derek (Wade Allain-Marcus) joke and talk while trying to recall their old classmates’ names and comment (aka judge) the lives of others. Going back to school provides a rich resource to help us better understand this group of friends. I would be remiss not to mention the aesthetic choices that have been repeatedly offered Not safe an enjoyable viewing experience. The outfits are still gorgeous, the lighting is still right and the outfits are still carefully chosen.
In a particularly interesting twist, the best part of this episode is the deliberate focus on developing characters other than Molly and Issa. Rothwell’s Kelli, who reliably delivers some of the series’ funniest moments, assumes a more pensive attitude as she realizes that for some strange reason – and never explanation time -, the alumni committee thought she was dead and planned to hold an In Memoria memorial service for her. It was a dark turn that led Kelli to reflect on his legacy. How will she be remembered? What does she mean to her friends? At times, she boredly wondered if she was just joking.
Rothwell, who never misses a beat, inevitably switches between Kelli’s gritty humor and a softer, more melancholy personality. That brief deviation from the usual enriched her personality, and it made me wonder if the end of Molly and Issa’s story would mean saying goodbye to Kelli. Maybe it’s time for her to have her own spin-off.
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