‘Insecure’ Showrunner Prentice Penny on the AKA Controversy, Lawrence’s Baby Drama and Why the Show Needs to End Here

No, none of it was in response to anything social media-related. We’ve always wanted to give Kelli more story, it’s just that our show is a half-hour—or 28 minutes, for people who throw shade. Issa’s the sun, so the further you get from the sun, the darker or colder the story becomes, so it’s hard to give Kelli her own individual story unless it’s somehow affecting Issa or Molly. As much as we may want to expand that, it’s difficult because, unless it’s affecting Issa, it’s not really as relevant to our world. We talked about doing a separate Kelli story with like, three separate storylines and we’d have 10 minutes to tell these mini-stories, but we couldn’t figure out how it would all connect to our main characters.

I think if we had another season then we could use an episode like that, because we’d have the space, but we just didn’t have the real estate to take the longer route home while trying to end the show. But we did figure that we could give Kelli a mini-arc at the beginning of the season that addresses these things, so even though it might not be her own storyline, we can use this jumping-off point as a way to explore things for her. That was our happy medium of giving Natasha something real—the show’s dealing with legacy, Kelli’s thinking about legacy—that the character gets to explore throughout the season.

You know that would probably make even more people say Insecure should be more than 30 minutes, right?

Well, they can go make their own show. We’re done with ours [laughs].

Insecure has made what I think is a wise decision not to address the pandemic. Logistically, it just wouldn’t work within the narrative. But, was having Kelli think about her own mortality an intentional decision considering that a lot of people have had to do that, in some way, during the pandemic?

I’d say no. It was only May of last year when we started the writers room, so it was so early that I don’t think any of us really knew where that was going, specifically. We were starting to talk about things independent of the pandemic, and I think the more we kept writing, the more we started thinking about whether we should do it. We were also starting to see people selling all of these pandemic shows and we agreed that by the time this season came out, people would want a break from all of that.

I think when we had the episode last season where Issa and Lawrence are on their date, that came out around the same time as all of the George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery stuff and people really wanted a reprieve from all we were watching on the news. People were thankful that it was a nice break from that, and know that these characters are in the world, but it’s also kind of a break from the world. So we decided not to do it—and this was pre-vaccine and everything. Once the vaccine came out, we were so thankful we didn’t do anything pandemic-related, because for a while we were wondering if we’d seem so tone deaf [by not addressing it] because we were all living it.

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