Issa Rae Wants You to Respect a Friend Breakup as Much as a Romantic One
"They are romances; you love your friends."
Breakups are classic Hollywood fodder, but a split from a friend doesn’t get as much due, despite it being as heartwrenching, if not more so, than a romantic breakup. Issa Rae gets it, and she opened up about why it was so important to write a “friend breakup” into the fourth season of her HBO series Insecure.
Throughout the latest season, characters Issa and Molly hit a major roadblock in their years-long friendship and both women had to grow separately before ultimately coming back together in a time of need. And according to Rae, this breakup was a natural next step for the series to take.
“One, we felt like the characters in the last season were building to this point of not being on the same page, and they had fought before,” Rae told Welteroth during their conversation. “But Prentice [Penny, Insecure’s showrunner], during one of our monthly retreats, came up with that line, where he was like, “Yeah, I just had this vision of starting the season and hearing Issa say, ‘I don’t fuck with Molly anymore.’” And it clicked. It was like, of course.”
Rae noted that friend breakups aren’t usually something viewers are exposed to in TV shows, or at least, these types of breakups aren’t “rich and treated with the same sincerity and hurt and anguish that romances are.”
Friendships are relationships, Rae said. They are romances; you love your friends.
“And nobody respects friendship breakups in the same way as you respect a romantic breakup, but they affect your life, and you take them for granted,” she contined, “and there was something so beautiful about examining the little paper cuts, which almost hurt more. That was something that we broke down from the beginning, examining what happens when it’s nobody’s fault.”
Furthermore, like romantic breakups, friend breakups are emotional trials most of us have been through at least once before, and they often leave a darker, more empty space once the dust has settled—the person you could lean on in times of upset is no longer there.
“It’s something that I’ve been through, too, where you can’t control where your life goes,” Rae continued. “I remember one of my most devastating ones was because I didn’t know how to handle a divorce that she was going through. I had never experienced a marriage, and I didn’t know what she needed from me. To her, I might’ve felt flippant about it because I didn’t know how to handle that.”
Rae’s friend breakup happened when she was launching her career, and on the flipside, she felt like this friend wasn’t present during the milestone, “and didn’t understand or respect what I was doing,” because she was on a completely different path.
And that’s not her fault, Rae said. So it was neither one of our faults, but it accumulated, and we’ve never been the same since.
People grow apart, and sometimes that growth gets messy when those involved want so much for things to stay the same. But, like Issa and Molly’s friendship in Insecure, sometimes both parties can come back to the relationship with more respect for the other person and together they can heal.