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Session 231: The Beginning of the End, Saying Goodbye to Insecure

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. the fifth and final season of HBO’s Insecure premiered this week and of course we had to talk about it. My friend and colleague Dr. Donna Oriowo is back with us today to chat all about what we saw in the premiere and what we might expect for the rest of the season.


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Where to Find Dr. Oriowo

Grab a copy of Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease

Instagram: @annodright

Twitter: @drdonnaoriowo

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 201 of the podcast discussing how to vet relationship advice.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 60 of the podcast discussing colorism and texturism.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 159 of the podcast discussing Molly’s return to therapy.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 158 of the podcast discussing Issa & Lawrence’s relationship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 155 of the podcast discussing Molly & Issa’s friendship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 151 of the podcast discussing the Season 4 premiere of Insecure.

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Read Full Transcript

Session 231: The Beginning of the End, Saying Goodbye to Insecure

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 231 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get into the episode right after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: It’s the moment we've all been waiting for. The fifth and final season of HBOs Insecure premiered this week, and of course we had to talk about it. My friend and colleague, Dr. Donna Oriowo is back with us today to chat all about what we saw in the premiere and what we might expect for the rest of the season. In case you've missed her before on the podcast, Dr. Oriowo is an author, international speaker and certified sex and relationship therapist in the Washington DC Metro area. She's the owner of Annod Right and specializes in working with black women on issues related to colorism and texturism, and its impact on mental and sexual health. She's also the author of Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease: A Self Love Journey Through Hair and Skin.

This episode does contain spoilers, so if you haven't watched the most recent episode, you definitely want to save it for later. I know that y'all have lots of thoughts as well so please share them with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Okay, so much to chat about. We were texting right after the show went off, we both talked about feeling like we were very, very deep in our feels and I wanted to spend some time checking in and like figuring out like, okay, what am I really feeling about? And so I feel like a part of it for me was it felt like these old friends that I hadn't caught up with in a long time and I also recognized that we got Season 4 right as the pandemic started, after we were kind of all kind of home, and so it felt like a reprieve. And so in some ways, I think I have started to associate like good feelings, like a little bit of a break from all of the stress that is happening in other places in the world, on Sunday evenings for a half hour with Issa and her friends.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, there's this excitement around it: I'm going to watch really good entertainment that is geared toward black folk, by black folk. But there's also a sadness because it's the first episode of the last season. Like beyond this season, we're not catching up with Issa and the entire cast anymore, not in the same way. So it's like, dang, this is the beginning of the end. And the feelings that I was having about just being back in, you know, this Insecure space versus the feelings that they evoked with what was going on in the episode, I was just like, yo, this show is just kind of rich. I'm like, you want to start off like this?

Dr. Joy: I mean, the first episode definitely pulled you in but I think they also got me when they did the season preview. So when we got a chance to see what might be coming up, I really feel like that is what really took me over the edge.

Dr. Oriowo: You know, I'd already started my speculation. I’m like...

Dr. Joy: We got lots of theories, lots of theories about what’s going to be happening.

Dr. Oriowo: Lots of them, lots of them.

Dr. Joy: We start the episode off and we see that they are heading to a 10-year reunion from their graduation from Stanford. I don't know that I knew that all of them–or at least Molly, Issa, Kelli, and Tiffany–had gone to Stanford. I don't know how I missed that part of the story.

Dr. Oriowo: Let me tell you about the zero paying attention I’m not gonna be doing.

Dr. Joy: It feels like there's so much to pay attention to, clearly, I've missed that glaring point. And fun fact, I saw that Issa shared online that Stanford typically has a no filming rule that they bended for Insecure, so shout out to Stanford for that, right?

Dr. Oriowo: They’re trying to be put on the scene because none of them Ivy leagues looked all that good after all that mess happened. Like what was that? Last year?

Dr. Joy: That was the most recent mess, of course, yeah. So we see them at the reunion and I thought it was interesting that we spent the majority of this episode with just them at Stanford before like we ever see Lawrence. And so of course, that's what everybody's on the edge of their seat waiting, like, oh my gosh, what's happening? But it actually felt very fitting...

Dr. Oriowo: I felt like that was so right.

Dr. Joy: Yes, it felt very fitting that we spent the majority of this episode really digging it with the friends.

Dr. Oriowo: Absolutely. Because I feel like we get so caught up in, even in our own world, this idea that romantic relationships take precedence over everything else. And in this episode, it was like, nah, it does not take precedence over everything else. Their friendship is the point, so let's get back to the point. And sometimes I wish that people moved back in that space. I mean, relationship anarchy is about all relationships having some value that you pick it, you talk about what it is, what the parameters of that relationship are. And I felt like this was just like, to me, it was like a baby nod (to some level) of relationship anarchy. Because it was not about let's pick up and figure out what Issa and Lawrence are gonna do. It’s like, no, let's actually pick up with these friendships. Seeing them individually and then seeing them come together after like sort of that convergence, was also important.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. I think the timeline that they have set out is that it has been two months since we last saw the group. So two months have passed since Molly and Issa had that last conversation where we saw them getting together for dinner and talking about can we talk. At least from what I was able to gather, they have still been talking, still trying to figure what their friendship looks like now, but stuff still feels very awkward.

Dr. Oriowo: Oh, yeah, beautifully so and I'm happy with that.

Dr. Joy: Say more about that.

Dr. Oriowo: I think that everybody, we wanted it to be okay so quick. I’m looking like, y’all had the falling out of falling out. I mean, you called each other names, you done said all this stuff, and I feel like people don't really want to do repair work. And I get it, a lot of us haven't been taught that. Like if our parents were wrong, if mama was wrong when we was growing up, it'd be like “you hungry?”

Dr. Joy: Right, that was the repair.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. And so we don't talk about it, we don't give no energy to it, it's “come eat and get over this thing,” it's not even a big deal anymore. And a lot of us have been taught to repair relationships similarly, so we don't give it no real energy, we don't give it no real time, we just want things to be better because we want them to be better right now. So that they were still in like this awkward space and feeling almost like insecure within the context of their own relationship. I was just like, yeah, I dig that.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. And it's also telling that they both have a lot going on in their own individual lives. We see them talking about how Molly is still kind of reeling from the breakup with Andrew, I was very excited to hear her reference her therapist telling her to be more present, so she clearly is still meeting with her therapist, which is cool. And then Issa of course is trying to figure out whatever is happening with Lawrence and so they are individually dealing with I think a lot. And then also their friendship is in a bit of a disarray but it seems very clear that they are still very actively fighting to try to figure out like what this new stage in their friendship is gonna look like.

Dr. Oriowo: Like purposeful repair. And I think that's the part that I love, that it's like, yes, we're going to do this work. And I even like that Molly was asking like, yo, Kelli, how long did it take y'all to repair your relationship, because I feel like I'm hanging on, I'm trying to? And that she gave such an honest answer like, yo, it took a while. We were fake back before we were back- back. I was just like if you don't say...

Dr. Joy: What does the fake back look like?

Dr. Oriowo: It looks like laughing at jokes that are not funny.

Dr. Joy: That are not funny, just trying to hang in there.

Dr. Oriowo: Word! It’s trying to find something to talk about but something that's not too deep to talk about because you don't want to say anything that feels controversial. It sort of feels like when you meet people for the first time and you are on your best behavior. It feels like that but with some knowledge of what your best behavior has to look like for the person that you're trying to repair with.

Dr. Joy: I think we saw throughout the episode them making like bids toward one another around like, okay, I kind of want to be there but I don't know what that looks like, and is she open to this? So I think we saw that throughout the episode.

Dr. Oriowo: But I love that they were checking in with each other. It's like, hey, I'm gonna keep it low key. Issa, did you want to chill? Can we chill with wine? Thank you for adding in the parameter like, yes, I need drinks.

Dr. Joy: Well, yeah, I thought that behavior from Molly, to me, seemed different than I think I've seen of her in past seasons. Because in my mind, she had seen that Issa maybe was struggling during this panel (which we're going to get into), but that she picked up on like, okay, I probably need to check in with my girl. Like it feels like something's going on here. And so, to me, when she was asking her like, “Oh Issa, do you want to kind of keep it low key and chill?” It felt like she wanted to be there for her but didn't know even exactly what that might look like or what Issa needed in that moment.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I liked that she gave space for Issa to be able to say whether or not she wanted to recover with her and give a little term of how they were going to recover. Even that part where they're just walking, Issa started going off and she’s like, did you eat yet?

Dr. Joy: Right.

Dr. Oriowo: Just like, if that ain't love. Like you know me when I’m hungry.

Dr. Joy: Exactly. You’re sounding kind of hungry right now, let's make sure we make sure that you eat.

Dr. Oriowo: Like let’s meet an immediate need. And I felt like that was her directly taking Kelli's advice. Because that was the one thing Kelli said, like what is the need in the moment? And I felt like she was looking for what the need could be in the moment but making no assumption about it, but instead asking. And I feel like that to me felt different than how the interactions had been in like previous seasons.

Mind you, I did not rewatch all the seasons, I didn't even rewatch last season in preparation for this. Because I was just like, you know what, I'm gonna see what it feels like when it stands on its own with the knowledge being it’s there but it's hazy. I'm like, wow, I mean, she like legit checking in, checking in. Like, hey, I wanna do this; is this something that you wanna do? And I was just like, okay, I feel you, girl. Go on and ask that question. You hungry? You wanna eat?

Dr. Joy: I agree. Getting back to the panel, of course they're there for their 10-year reunion but Issa has also been asked to speak on a panel about like entrepreneurship and distinguished alumni kind of thing. I found it interesting that it feels like some of the commentary that Issa offered around like her work life, felt very similar to Season 1 Issa. When she was trying to like figure it out, what am I doing? I kind of feel fulfilled in this but I'm not really sure. And so I thought the panel was a very illuminating experience just around like how we don't always have to have the answers.

Dr. Oriowo: I was thinking about time. Like throughout watching this episode, this idea of time, the concept of time, and how it was spoken about. Even at the end of the episode, like the wrap, Kelli asking that question at the end as Give a Little by Ego was playing. It was like, if you knew the end was coming, how would you spend your time? Like that question. And like when I get back into the panel, I'm just like the whole episode is Sankofa. Like we're looking back, we're starting at where they started–they all started at Stanford together–and trying to get an idea of where they are right now.

And it was so fitting that you just said that it felt like first season Issa, because I'm just like time is a construct that we think of as linear. That's not, it folds in on itself, so that it feels like Season 1 Issa to me makes sense because she's at a completely new season of her life, so again she’s still got some figuring out to do. Like what I was doing back then, I knew it wasn't me, and what I'm doing right now feels better. I feel more authentic but I still can't say that I'm 100% sure. And I was just like, yo, thank you for the truth of that answer. Especially that question, like at what point did you feel stability?

Dr. Joy: Right, like when do you ever feel that, honestly?

Dr. Oriowo: I don’t know. I was just like how would I answer this question? And I'm just like when you listen to everybody else's answer on the panel, the first person said when they got validation from somebody else because they gave them money. The second person said when I got validation from other people because they asked me for advice. I'm looking like look at both of them. The first two answers were external validation “that's how I know I'm on the right path” type stuff.

The third one was just like I was able to quit the other job that I didn’t really want. And that felt like, oh, that felt better. It felt like the move toward, yes, this is for me. This is how I know I'm stable. I'm stable because I don't have to give my time, my energy or give of myself in places that do not feel good for me. And then Issa bringing it home with her answer, like I don't know. I don't feel it all the time. Like I could wake up tomorrow and feel like I wasted my time. And I feel like, yo, if that's not someone screaming at all of us that we can pivot, that we can change our minds, I don't know what it is.

Dr. Joy: Absolutely. Yeah, and I also thought that it was an illustration of some of the conversations you see online or like some of our behavior online, where we get into this tendency of trying to compare ourselves to like what other people are doing. So this person has this great career and this person has this great family and all of this stuff, but really like everybody's story is their own. And so it doesn't make your story any less or better because you're in a different place. It's just different. Her being on that panel, I thought, was a real illustration of how sometimes we get caught up in thinking that our life should look some way when it looks whatever way it looks. It just looks like what it is, it's just the reality of it.

Dr. Oriowo: That's Session 82, stop shoulding on yourself.

Dr. Joy: Stop shoulding on yourself, yes, yes.

Dr. Oriowo: I texted you that last night. I was just like yo, this is reminding me of the should episode. So you know had to go look it up and go listen and everything. I was just like, yo, like seriously, the way that it all just came together in that space. That was like a touch of nostalgia and whimsy and awkwardness to this episode. Number one, I was really digging it and I was feeling that awkwardness. I was like, oh gosh, they are not back and you could tell that they are not back. But they were getting into that space of nostalgia and just like trying to be present in the moment but almost like they were trying to relive the past. And this is one of those moments where I'm just like nostalgia is good to an extent, but that shit could get you into trouble.

Dr. Joy: And we saw that clearly here, right?

Dr. Oriowo: So clearly.

Dr. Joy: But before we get to that, the other part that I thought was really cool, because you know we love when mirror bitch pops up. And so I thought that this mirror bitch segment was really cool because we see her talking to like College Issa, so 21-year-old or 19-year-old Issa, and like this check in with yourself. If you were able to go back and talk to like your college-aged self or 19-year-old self, what would you say and would she be proud of you?

Dr. Oriowo: The part of that conversation that I really loved, college stuff is like, yo, we got this practice with Molly, we got this law firm. And then it was like, come on now, we didn't really want that.

Dr. Joy: Right.

Dr. Oriowo: And I was just like, if you don't go ahead and say it. If you don’t say it. This is why I felt that the whole thing was about time. Because I'm just like, how many of us are still steady trying to live our 15-year-old dreams? You were a child when they impressed upon you the importance of picking what you're gonna be. By the time you're born, number one, they’re already gendering you and telling you exactly what kind of partner you're going to sleep with and make babies with. Oh, this is your little boyfriend, this is your little girlfriend. So we are already doing that. But then they’re also foisting these careers on you, like, oh, this one is gonna be a doctor. Oh, they're gonna be a lawyer. I'm looking like I'm Nigerian, come on–doctor, lawyer, engineer. So it's a constant thing.

And just like how, when you're young, you really do want to please your parents, that's your life. Like how can I please them? But some of us forget to let go of the dreams of our parents and get our own dreams. So I feel like just the fact that she was able to see that the thing that she was doing back then, trying to be a lawyer, didn't even fit who she was or even who she is, and that she was able to come to her own authentic self. I mean, it matches with what she gave on that panel. She gave authenticity. Like, oh, I love my neighborhood, I'm passionate about that. Ain’t nobody was clapping for that but I'm like they don’t need to clap for it. Because the reason that we do what we do is highly personal and too many of us are looking for other people to validate our dreams in the first place. And the fact that she was able to say what she said. And she was awkward but I'm still digging how authentic she was in even just having the conversation that she had.

Dr. Joy: You know, the other funny thing I think about that panel, just noticing like what people were clapping for versus what they weren't. I think that is like also telling, like how people sometimes speak in soundbites and say the thing that will be quotable or whatever, but it's not actually the real thing. Like in real life, I imagined that Issa’s comments, there would have been a line of people waiting to talk to her after this panel. She touched on something that they could really identify. Like the kids in the audience who have no idea what they want to do and like they’re graduating next semester. So that's how I imagined that would have played in real life.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I think that people like the narrative of, oh, you’re an entrepreneur and it was easy for you, which means now I can do it. And I'm just like, look, but it's not easy for everybody. It's not simple. And someone’s simple soundbite is not going to be enough to sustain you when you're going through it and when you're trying to make the thing work. Or when you grow the thing and realize that the stuff that you were doing when you started can't be the same stuff that you're doing now that you've been doing it for a while.

It got me thinking about my own business. I'm looking like my entrepreneurial journey look mad different. Like number one, I never intended. How about that? Let’s start it there, I never intended. I was just like you know God is the major bully right here because I'm looking like somehow I went from working for somebody else, which I thought I was gonna be happy to do, to working for myself. Which, granted, He knows best. Yes, it's been happier but it's also been more work, it's been more tears, it's been more fighting. And I have had those moments where I look just like what she said, like I could wake up tomorrow morning and feel like I’ve wasted my darn gone time.

Dr. Joy: You never know.

Dr. Oriowo: Like sometimes I do.

Dr. Joy: Even if you don't wake up and say I wasted my time, you can wake up and say I want to do something different, right? Because I think that’s the other piece, is that it doesn't have to be that it was a waste of time. It just means that maybe now you want to do something else.

Dr. Oriowo: It's about the adaptability. The adaptability allows us to pivot, allows us to feel more free and not feel so constrained by the hands of time. Because when we feel like we don't have no time left, we start taking all kinds of mess.

Dr. Joy: Acting out of desperation as opposed to like true intention and desire.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. So then we start having those conversations about shoulds, where we're supposed to be, what we should be doing by this time. And I'm like all of that is rooted in white supremacist ideals, especially ones around youth and how when you are young, you're worth something and you’re building your life. And this is why so many people have a fear of turning 30. They feel like their lives are over because they don't know that throughout your entire life, you can pivot. If you want to pivot when you’re 75, you can pivot. If something no longer brings you joy, you can say that you're finished with it. You didn't quit, you're not a quitter. You are finished and you get to pivot.

Dr. Joy: And there's your benediction, ladies and gentlemen. More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: The other thing that we see kind of running as a theme, at least throughout this episode, we see at registration like they don't have a name tag for Kelli and then we realize that somehow they have now categorized her as deceased. And so there's this whole in-memoriam thing and so it feels like Kelli is exploring, through this episode, like what she has meant to people and like her being the funny friend.

Dr. Oriowo: Yo, that they reduced her death–she always had a purse.

Dr. Joy: She always had a good stanky leg.

Dr. Oriowo: Mm hmm, and it was just like such random little factoids, which to me spoke of they never really saw her. And what I loved about this was how Kelli stood in that and she’s like this is not okay. I like that she was willing to make everybody uncomfortable in the doggone car, I was like, please do. Please do because they are so invested in you being the funny friend at times that I think they forget that she's got legit feels about stuff. I'm like, yes, she's funny and in a lot of ways she can serve as a relief of the tension that can be happening between various characters, but I think that sometimes they forget to see her as a whole person and she demanded it in this episode.

Dr. Joy: Agreed. Yeah, I mean, there is more complexity to her than just being funny.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. And how she was like... when they were getting back in the car, I would haunt y’all arses. Me too? Yes, I'm gonna haunt all of y'all. And I was just like, please. This is for me like a revelation of how she was able to speak up and how her friends were actually able to hear her so they were able to actually give what they might write or what they might say when they were sitting at the restaurant. I was just like sometimes that's what we need to hear. We need to hear that you actually know me, that you see me, that it’s beyond I could do a stanky leg.

Dr. Joy: Right, or that this is who I am in your life. I'm more than just my role in your life, I am who I am.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, I appreciated that. I hope we will get to see more of that throughout the season.

Dr. Oriowo: I was just like, man, if you don't bring it on...

Dr. Joy: Going back to knowing when you have outgrown certain relationships. We see that Issa, Molly, Kelli and this friend, what's her name? Shanay?

Dr. Oriowo: Sure, let’s go with it.

Dr. Joy: I think Shanay, I think her name was Shanay. They had some kind of like rap dance group, I guess, while they were in college and so she is there at the reunion.

Dr. Oriowo: Something Trap, right?

Dr. Joy: Trap something, I don't remember what the name of it was. And so they reunite with her and then she has this idea of going to Oakland to like some club they used to visit. And so they're in the car, this is when Kelli makes a comment about like y’all only see me as the funny person. They stop for gas and then there is what appears to be a whole...

Dr. Oriowo: They stop for liquor.

Dr. Joy: Liquor, yes liquor, not gas. Sorry, at a gas station but for liquor.

Dr. Oriowo: That that chick directed them to, she’s like there’s a liquor store right here.

Dr. Joy: Yes, and then we find out that she has actually set them up to be robbed by whoever this person is that she's working with.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm assuming her beau thing or her friend.

Dr. Joy: Maybe... Right, or brother, who knows who the guy is?

Dr. Oriowo: Whomever.

Dr. Joy: Right. And so in that moment, I got really scared. It felt to me like the episode last season when we were feeling a little leery about the bus and like the police officers outside the bus and oh my gosh, what's gonna happen? And I was like, oh my gosh, are we gonna take a turn right here? Like what's happening? But of course, it turned out to be like a setup and she just wanted to take Molly's Cartier watch and like her shoes and their purses and stuff.

Dr. Oriowo: I was just like, see, nostalgia feels lovely. We want to go back into the past, sometimes we want to re-experience it. People tell you all the time, oh, if I could go back to high school, I would do what I was again. I'm looking like, why? But I'm looking like nostalgia can be dangerous.

Dr. Joy: Yes.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm looking like Sankofa is you look back and you look with a critical eye, you are examining where you were versus where you are now. Lessons learned that you can bring forward, things that you've done well that you want to continue, things that you did not do so well that you want to make sure that you change. It’s with a critical eye that one looks back in Sankofa. Nostalgia will get you into trouble. It will have your robbed and shoeless in the streets.

Dr. Joy: Robbed and shoeless in the streets! And was it Kelli who said I never really liked her? Wasn't it her who said that when they got back...?

Dr. Oriowo: All of them said they didn't like her. It was just like Issa was like, yeah, I always knew I hated that girl. I’m just like all of y'all remembered that y'all had a falling out. You didn't keep in touch with purpose. And then your nostalgia, you get caught up and you want to be friends again and see how someone has changed? I was like see how they change in public space, not in your car. Not on the way somewhere. Nah. Because you don't still know that person, you don't know what they have done, you don't know what they have become.

And I feel like it is with nostalgia that most people get back with exes. You get caught up in the good feelings of what it was back then, especially if you’re feeling a little down on your life in the moment. You want to go relive your happy days but done forgot why you broke up in the first place. And this is coming from somebody that definitely married her ex.

Dr. Joy: Are you gonna come in here with your celebration story and tell us don't do it?

Dr. Oriowo: Because we did... I was in Sankofa, not nostalgia.

Dr. Joy: You did the work of actually exploring, okay, what happened? What have we learned and how might we move forward now?

Dr. Oriowo: It was a good like two months of just exploring, of radical levels of ugly honesty. Where it's like, I don't know how I feel about you, I don't know if I like you, I don't know if I love you in this moment. And constantly being able to say those things which can hurt somebody's feelings, to be quite honest. Because we all want to feel like we’re the bee's knees and somebody’s thirsting for us and all that. And when you're having that radical level of honesty of like, well, what broke us up in the first place? Why did we break up? What has changed in your life? What has changed in my life? Where is it that you're trying to go? Is this something that you feel like you're also willing to do? What are the boundaries? What are the parameters of us being together? We don't ask those questions. We live in nostalgia, we want to live in the good feels.

Dr. Joy: Right, not the more difficult ones.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. When strife comes back to visit, we fall back into old ways of dealing. Then it's like you ain't changed, you ain't grown. I’m looking like, number one, change is constant, I don't know anybody that hasn't changed. It's the one thing that life guarantees us. Change. Now, you can repeat patterns forever if you refuse to learn. Because a lot of us, we know better but we don't do better and I feel like nostalgia gets you out of that space of doing better. We just want to feel better. And they wanted to feel so good with her that they were in this doggone position. Now, I'm not saying that they have to take responsibility for that because that could be victim blaming. But I’m just like y'all didn’t even really know her like that.

Dr. Joy: And didn't like her, according to them.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, you're trying to what? Pretend like you did again?

Dr. Joy: Yeah, trying to recapture some of that college thing, right? I definitely see it. When you get into your more adult life and people have had kids and jobs and, you know, like the idea of the freedom (I think) of your college experience feels like something you want to revisit. But to your point...

Dr. Oriowo: Back before we had real bills or responsibilities.

Dr. Joy: Right, before you had real responsibilities.

Dr. Oriowo: We had bills that were deferred until after college. You don't know the pain of a student loan until you're not a student.

Dr. Joy: Indeed. The thing, though, that I did think was important about this whole scene is that it did feel like it gave Molly and Issa this new shared experience to bond over. Initially, they didn't know that this wasn't real and so they have this traumatic, shocking experience, to now have a new story around. Even though they're laughing later, it is a new memory, I think, that was able to like push their relationship a little closer to one another.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes. And honestly, it's reminded me of like in couples work or even in friendship work that I might do in therapy, it's like go do something new together. Go have an experience together. That helps to, number one, have y’all communicate in different ways, you get to see how you feel about the other and yourself. Because when you're in a new situation, your brain is on like hyper alert. This is why people feel like they need a vacation from their vacation. If you go somewhere new, your brain is like I don’t know this place and I don’t know this people.

Dr. Joy: All those new smells, new sights, new all kinds of things.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. So everything is on like hyper focus, hyper awareness, just trying to keep you alive, because that's what the body is made to do. So it’s doing all of that even in that situation. They're like hyper aware, like how do we keep ourselves alive here? And they’re trying to shush Shanay, it’s like sshh, you will get us killed out here. Like just hand over the stuff. And just how they were bonded in that moment, it was just like, oh, snap, let's keep each other alive. That translates to “Oh yeah, we love each other. We care about each other.”

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: So like just having that new shared experience, post messiness, was needed.

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: I think that there's a little nostalgia and the wanting to harken back to what was back then and recapture that stuff, that's one piece of it. But that other piece was just being able to be like, oh, okay, we have a new experience together and I remember that I actually do like you.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: So then the reunion wraps up, everybody is headed back home, we see Issa comes out of the airport and who is there to pick her up but Lawrence. We had, what, maybe seven to 10 minutes left of the episode before we ever even saw or heard anything about Lawrence. Because when she got to the airport, we didn't see who dropped her off so at this point we didn't know where Lawrence was in the picture. But we do see that she gets out of the doors and she kisses him, so in my mind that means, okay, we have at least still been talking during these two months.

Dr. Oriowo: I was like it was a very perfunctory kiss.

Dr. Joy: I mean, it was a kiss, though. It wasn't like a hug that you give to your home girl who like just picked you up from the airport.

Dr. Oriowo: I might kiss, I might give you a kiss on the cheek like mwah!

Dr. Joy: But it wasn't a kiss on the cheek, it was some lip action there.

Dr. Oriowo: You know, I don’t know, it was a real friend kiss.

Dr. Joy: It definitely wasn't like a passionate like, oh, I missed you so much kiss, but it was a kiss on the lips. Yeah. But we see them driving back, I guess to her apartment, and there is an awkwardness there also. But again, we don’t know...

Dr. Oriowo: The man had to talk about the moon.

Dr. Joy: About the moon and so it's like, okay, what has happened here? Like the kiss indicates that there is still some level of familiarity and like connection, but then the drive almost was as if it's somebody she hadn't seen in some time. And so it left me kind of confused as to like, okay, what has actually happened in these past two months?

Dr. Oriowo: I was like not even just hasn't seen in some time, but like they don't really mess with each other. That's what it felt like. It felt as awkward but was less effort than what was being put forth with Issa and Molly's relationship. I was just like, yo, this is painful. This is a painful car ride.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, and so it's like, okay, I'm sure we'll see later, but had y'all not been talking and she just called you for a ride from the airport? Like what actually happened here?

Dr. Oriowo: I’m wondering if he even volunteered.

Dr. Joy: Mm, I see that is very possible.

Dr. Oriowo: Because Issa got some different energy and he's trying to like establish some sort of longevity. Like you want to eat? You want some Thai food?

Dr. Joy: Right, yeah, you’re right, I forgot about that.

Dr. Oriowo: *[inaudible 0:40:00]

Dr. Joy: Like get me to the house immediately.

Dr. Oriowo: Look, I am closed to you. I don't want to break bread with you. I'm not trying to chill with you for any longer than I have to. Because what I have to say to you, it's gonna be difficult and we’re not getting no food.

Dr. Joy: Right, because that would have just belabored the point.

Dr. Oriowo: Can you imagine?

Dr. Joy: Not good.

Dr. Oriowo: Oh, you want me to pack up this food so that you can leave now that I broke with you?

Dr. Joy: We do finally get back to her apartment and he is going to bring her bag up, and she says I don't think I can do this or something like that. So it indicated that maybe they had been trying to like keep up whatever was going, but now she has reconsidered (I'm guessing during her time away) and really feels like this isn't actually something I want to participate in anymore.

Dr. Oriowo: Aka pivot. She wanted to pivot.

Dr. Joy: That was the theme, that was the theme of the episode.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, I was just like if you want to go ahead and pivot, go ahead. Because it was just like, yeah. Number one, that was a very awkward car ride. But her getting to that space of being able to be like, look, we need to talk. Like number one, I appreciated it on so many levels. Because a lot of people out here be just ghosting people, that's all we do. We don't want to talk to somebody and then we disappear out of their lives. So despite the fact that Issa be mad scary, full of anxiety and sometimes does not like to confront that stuff head on, she confronted it head on, which for me felt a lot like how she was on the panel–confronting the thing and speaking up. Like when dude said B-L-O-C-C, she was like, “err, the BLOCC.” Just like how are you a moderator and you ain’t do no research and you’re here, asking these people nothing.

Dr. Joy: Right.

Dr. Oriowo: But okay, okay. But it felt like that where she was just like, look, I'm gonna correct and we need to set a new course. And the course that we were going before no longer works for me, I need to pivot. I need to pivot away from this. I realize that this doesn't actually help or serve me, it is not something that I want for myself, I don't think this is gonna work. I was just like really appreciative. Now, the only thing that I would have changed is the part where she's like, I think. I would have been like I don't want this, this is not going to work–short declarative sentences as opposed to things that sound like “you convince me how it can work and I'll make it work.”

Dr. Joy: To me, her language fits better with their pattern. Like the kind of leaving the door open. And it was clearly just so.... Right, are we getting that album like in the next two weeks? Isn't it November something that we are patiently awaiting? It did feel like there was just so much sadness because the breakup they had before was so painful, on both sides, I think. And so then we saw last season that they had this great time hanging out together and it felt like they could be moving in a different direction, and then of course we find out that Condola is pregnant. And so it sounds like, or at least what it alluded to, was that in these past two months, maybe they have been trying to figure it out, maybe trying to make something work. And she just realizes, you know what, this actually is not something I think I'm gonna be able to do anymore. At least right now.

Dr. Oriowo: I was just like, yeah. I just like that she said it.

Dr. Joy: That’s definitely preferable to like just coasting through it and like being silently miserable.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly.

Dr. Joy: Yeah.

Dr. Oriowo: And I feel like that's what she did Season 1, coasting through.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, which is how she ended up cheating in the first place, right?

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. All the things that are left unsaid that like when you're trying to not have a fight with somebody else, you maintain your silence but start a war within yourself. I just love that she was able to say nah, this is not for me. And I feel like this is the pattern that she's been picking up where she's being honest about what she wants and what she needs from the people around her. And speaking more honestly about what does and doesn't work for her. Like within her relationship with Molly, and then trying to now be good to each other (as she told her mirror self) and just being in that space of being able to be like, look, no. And them little snips, them little teasers, I was just like...

Dr. Joy: Listen, so let us now move into the teasers that they shared. Again, I feel like this is what really put me over the edge because I felt like I was just overloaded at that point. We never actually see the baby, I don't think. Did they show any teasers of the baby?

Dr. Oriowo: You know, I do not recall seeing a baby.

Dr. Joy: I don't think so. We don't see any teasers of a baby but we do see, it appears like in some of the future clips, that Lawrence has moved away because they talk about like he's now back in town. So it appears that at some point in the future of this season, there's gonna be a reconsidering–is the door officially closed with Lawrence?

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, and it even seems like she's going to be fighting herself about like did I make the right choice? Which, given, as she already said something to that effect in the panel. Like I could wake up tomorrow and feel I wasted my time, I was just like, ooh.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, who knows what the decision is going to be?

Dr. Oriowo: Hmm, I wonder if this is going to come back around.

Dr. Joy: Oh, of course it will. What else did we see in those future clips? Molly of course has a new haircut. And we saw her...

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, we saw her considering the haircut in the mirror. I’m like, yes, please give us face. Give it to us, unobscured face, we’re ready. What else did we see? I feel like it was all so fast to me or maybe it was because I was already emotionally...

Dr. Joy: Right, it felt hard to know what to pay attention to. Oh, also at the end (not the future clips) but we saw the episode ending, or before quite the very ending, we saw Kelli talking in her podcast, asking this question–like if you knew this was the end, how might you prepare? What might you do differently? So I wonder if we will see more clips from Kelli's podcast throughout the season? That would be pretty cool.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, sort of framing the conversation. Because I was just like, hmm, this question.

Dr. Joy: Very poignant question.

Dr. Oriowo: And at the same time, I think it's because we continually like to forget that at some point all of us die. So it's not if you knew the end was coming; you know that the end is coming.

Dr. Joy: Right. We don't know when but we do know that it is.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I feel like that's part of the fallacy of “make a decision when you're 15 about what you want to do for the rest of your life,” and never pivot. And never think about anything else, and never want anything else. It's part of the lie because it's like let's rush and hurry up and be in the careers that we want, doing the work that we want, that our 15-year-old selves before we have the fullness of our brain wants. And never think about death, not really.

Let's bully each other into living these lives that feel beneath us because of the anxiety and fear that we have. Like we're going to hurry up and get to all the stuff that means that we're real people, that were real grown. So that then we can try to slow down what feels like this march of death, like young folk don't die. I'm looking like all people die at some point. When they die, we don't know and yet the question was, “if you knew the end was coming.” I’m like the end is coming. I’m like if you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, what might you do? That’s a good question. Like if you knew that you’ve got one month left, what are you feeling to do out here? How would you spend your time?

Dr. Joy: It also felt like commentary on just the show itself. I shared on social media like when we knew that this was going to be the final season and the cast started sharing all the pictures from Season 1 and whatever, that it felt very meaningful that they were giving each other–and us– space to say goodbye appropriately to the show.

Dr. Oriowo: Which I appreciate.

Dr. Joy: Right, and so I felt like her commentary in her podcast was also an opportunity to kind of talk about the ending of the show. They are saying goodbye to us and allowing us into this world and kind of playing that, I think, into the themes that we're probably going to see this season as well. Like saying goodbye.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, and with that song playing in the background too, Give a Little.

Dr. Joy: I hadn't heard that song before but clearly...

Dr. Oriowo: Me neither but I went to go look it up, I gone downloaded it and everything. I'm like, thank you Insecure for providing.

Dr. Joy: Another gift you've given us.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, and I'm just like the lyrics in that thing. It's like I gave an offering, they talk about how they signed a deal that they settled for because they were insecure. And I feel like when the song starts playing and *[inaudible 0:48:49]. She's asking this question but I'm thinking about what happened right before she's asking this question. It's Molly and Issa having this conversation about time and how she felt like she didn't have a lot of time, and that the person that she was back then, like yes, you just knew you was going to be successful and you was just going with the flow and you wasn't pressed over nothing. Like this is what Issa admired in Molly that Molly stopped being, that she stopped having, because she started feeling pressed for time. So there she is, she’s signed a deal of a bunch of stuff that she didn't really want with people that she wasn't really digging, because she felt so insecure. And I'm just like, this song *[inaudible 0:49:36].

Dr. Joy: What are you going to be keeping your eye open for, this season?

Dr. Oriowo: I want to continue to see how time plays a role because it's like, yes, we know the end is coming. I mean, we noticed the last season, I'm happy they didn't like spring it on us like five episodes in. So we know... we knew in advance and I feel like we already started to have like this place to mourn. And the episode itself gave us, oh, if Kelli was gone. We got a little bit of mourning space there as well of remembering all the things that we liked that she offered, that she brings to the show with her character. I'm wondering if we're going to get more of that, that piece of feeling like we are saying some more final goodbyes. So I'm looking out for that, for like how we say goodbye. And then the therapist in me is also looking for how we grieve the ending of a show that we loved.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, definitely that. Yeah, I think I'm really looking forward to seeing how the sisterhood between the women becomes an even bigger conversation this season. Because it seems like Lawrence might be moving away and so that, to me, opens even more space for the conversations and the relationships between them. And really looking at like the complexities that exist there and how that makes them stronger, I think collectively, but also individually. I really feel like Issa had the strength to go back and have that conversation with Lawrence because she felt stronger in the relationship with Molly. Just a little bit. So I feel like she was able to come and...

Dr. Oriowo: Where you don't feel like you don't have nothing.

Dr. Joy: Right, she was able to borrow on some of that connection to kind of say, you know what, this actually doesn't feel good to me anymore. I want to do something different. But that's what I'm really looking forward to, seeing how that all plays out this season.

So you will hear me and Dr. Oriowo much of this season sharing our thoughts about what we see going on in the episodes, so if there are things that you want us to cover, you can always send those questions to us at Themes that you want us to explore more, you can definitely share those with us there.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm so excited that we get to talk about this season together. I’m very excited.

Dr. Joy: So much fun. We get to say goodbye in the best way possible.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes, because I need a therapist to talk to. So thank you!

Dr. Joy: I'm so glad Dr. Oriowo was able to join me again to chat about the show. Be sure to visit the show notes at to find out more about her work or to grab a copy of her workbook, Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease. And don't forget to text two of your girls right now and tell them to check out the episode. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here