What Issa Rae Learned from Backlash Over ‘Insecure’s Unprotected Sex Scenes

What Issa Rae Learned from Backlash Over ‘Insecure’s Unprotected Sex Scenes
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Issa Rae is listening to her fans. Though the 32-year-old creator’s HBO television series “Insecure,” which she stars in, writes, and directs, is generally well-received by viewers and critics, some audience members found fault in the show’s second season due to a lack of condoms and contraceptives in sex scenes. In a recent interview with Adweek, Rae revealed what she’s learn from the backlash and how the show will progress moving forward.

Though hesitant to feed into the chatter at first, Rae eventually took the criticism to heart after viewing it as a compliment to her writing and characters. “People were concerned and initially I was like, ‘What the fuck? What is going on?'” Rae said. “But then realized [after] reading the reactions that it’s a compliment because people feel so invested in these characters that they see themselves in these characters.”

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After coming to that realization, Rae registered that if fans were sharing the same active sex lives as her characters, then they more than likely would use protection. Likewise, Rae also considered the criticism worth addressing due to its distracting effect on her story. “Their minds are like, ‘If I was going to do a ho phase, I would wear a condom,'” she said. “And two—just as a storyteller, if that was taking people out of the story, then I just felt compelled to address it.”

Given the show’s frequent commentary on race, sexuality, and gender, Rae didn’t want a condomless sex scene to detract from her story. “I don’t want you—given all the work that we put into creating a scene, the dialogue, everything—to take you out of it and you’re like, ‘Where are the condoms?’ And you miss something that we said,” Rae said.

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In August, Rae addressed the backlash in a now-deleted tweet, in which she vowed to “do better next season.” She explained that the show typically places condoms in the background to imply their use. In her Adweek interview, Rae affirmed that she’s going to keep her promise of including more contraceptives in the show’s upcoming third season.

“It just felt important. It’s not a big deal to address it and knowing that there are more sex scenes to come, I don’t want the conversation to continue without saying something,” Rae said. “Yes, we’ll do better. That’s all we can do.”