“Ho.” The word has been used frequently throughout season 2, most of the time by Issa, who has used it in reference to the kind of single life she wants to have. In past episodes, she’s asked Molly to teach her how to ho and has complained about the lack of consistency with her “hotation.” If someone wanted to summarize the gist of this season, they could nail it by simply saying it’s all about Issa trying to be a ho.
But in last night’s episode, “ho” was used against Issa by Lawrence, inadvertently killing her momentum (or should we call it ho-mentum). It was also a subtle reminder that some words will always be negative no matter how much we try to flip the script and say otherwise.
Of course, Insecure is too slick a show to spell this lesson out. It took me watching the episode twice to understand that this was not just about how messy social circles can get when couples break up but everyone is still trying to be cool. That is, however, what brings us to the much-anticipated reunion between Issa and Lawrence.
After their explosive but brief reunion in season 2’s premiere, Issa and Lawrence have been on separate journeys, admirably putting some distance between themselves throughout this season. That distance is closed when Tiffany invites them both to Derek’s birthday dinner. This is a bad idea by Tiffany that only begets bad ideas from Lawrence and Issa.
Lawrence, who now has what we like to call a situation with his co-worker Aparna, foolishly believes it’s OK to bring her to the dinner party. Meanwhile, Issa decides not to speak up about the impending discomfort that’s about to go down when Tiffany gives her the heads-up that Lawrence is coming. She had a prime opportunity to cash in on their tight friendship by protesting the invite but instead tried to put on her big-girl panties and say it was “cool” for her to invite him and that she’s “not trippin’.”
But Issa wouldn’t be Issa if she wasn’t tripping about something, and she also wouldn’t be who she is if she didn’t misdirect her ire toward the wrong people. This is how she ends up lashing out at Daniel for no reason at all when he calls her to apologize for their miscommunication from last week’s episode. It’s frustrating to watch Issa continue to self-destruct like this, but it’s also a good reminder that Issa can’t be a ho if she feels like the end result of oral sex should be neat.
Someone who is slowly becoming less naive is Molly. Dro continues to lightskin-talk his way into her panties, even going so far as to take his wife to the same dinner party but still get busy with Molly in the bathroom sometime between the main course and dessert. This, at first, is business as usual for them, until Dro gives her very clear instructions. “I’m gonna go back out,” Dro says to Molly. “You wanna hang back here for a sec and then come out afterwards?”
Molly knows the question is rhetorical and unwillingly does as she’s told, only to see Issa waiting outside to use the bathroom. In perhaps the most touching scene of the entire episode, Issa helps Molly get herself together before she goes back out to the party, to which Molly simply says, “Thank you.” But the gratitude is not for helping her straighten up; it’s for Issa being the friend Molly needs, unlike Dro, who is the friend she should never have started fucking.
Prior to this thoughtful scene is the dramatic apex of the episode between Issa and Lawrence. Issa has seen enough of Lawrence and Aparna carrying on at the other end of the dinner table and gets up to walk outside. Lawrence knows this is on him and follows her out to do damage control, but he turns out to be the anti-hero we’ve all come to know him as.
Both Issa and Lawrence go below the belt and blow-for-blow in their argument. Issa accuses Lawrence of being petty for blocking her on Facebook and downgrading to a bank teller, while Lawrence reminds Issa that the guy she cheated on him with isn’t exactly the poster boy for stability. That’s when Issa reminds Lawrence that before he had his current job, he had nothing but an idea for an app called Woot Woot, which isn’t exactly thriving, and she had to support his “depressed ass.”
That remark cuts Lawrence deep, and because hurt people hurt people, Lawrence goes for the jugular and calls Issa “a fucking ho”—the very thing she’s been trying to be without him but never wanted to be with him. It’s clear in Issa’s body language that Lawrence’s words will scar her, but unfortunately Lawrence walks away with Aparna before he can register the damage he’s done, completely unaware that he’s more wrong than he’s ever been.
By now, everyone is well aware of the #LawrenceHive, the group of men who believe that he has been wronged more than he has done wrong to others. I myself have identified as a member, not simply because I think it’s more fun to pick a side between Issa and Lawrence, but also because I agree with the hive’s core belief: Lawrence may not be perfect, but he isn’t a bad guy. And even after smashing and dashing on Issa earlier in the season and sloppily handling his whole situation with Tasha the bank teller, I have defended him in discussions with friends about the show.
But last night opened my eyes to Lawrence’s biggest issue and the thing that he needs to address if he ever wants to become an adult: his naivete. Lawrence wasn’t ever wrong for being upset with Issa, but calling her a ho not only went too far—it was misguided, and he should know better, but he doesn’t.