Opening Deadline’s second annual Contenders Emmys at the DGA Theater, Insecure creator-star Issae Rae was on hand representing HBO, alongside The Leftovers co-creator Damon Lindelof and star Justin Theroux.
A critically praised HBO comedy series from Rae and The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore, based in part on Rae’s acclaimed web series Awkward Black Girl, Insecure earned Rae her first Golden Globe nomination this year. The series follows the friendship of two modern-day black women, Issa (Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji), and all of their uncomfortable experiences.
In a panel moderated by Deadline’s Dominic Patten, Rae discussed the genesis of the series and her relationship with HBO, which came along just at the right time after her ABC pilot was not picked up to series. “I had a celebration that night like, ‘Guys, I got a call from HBO. We on!” she laughed.
Rae discussed her mission with the series, which had to do with a more thoughtful and nuanced onscreen depiction of people and places she felt had been misrepresented in television. “I knew that I wanted to have a show set in L.A, I knew that I wanted to highlight specific parts of L.A. that I hadn’t seen demonstrated in the most positive light in the last couple of years,” she said. “And I wanted to make South L.A. sexy!”
She continued: “I think for such a long time, I just was not seeing great black female friendships on television. It was constantly about tearing one another down or throwing shade. There are elements of that, but for the most part, black women are essential to my life.”
With the series promptly renewed for a second season, airing in July, Rae teased the direction in which the series is heading. “I think with Season 2, we’re picking up where we left off, and we’re exploring just what it looks like when everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing” she said. “When you’re single, what are you supposed to be doing? When someone tells you you need therapy, what are you supposed to be doing? Without giving too much away, I always tell people to imagine, if your friends had been in the scenarios at the end of Season 1, what would they do, or what would you do? That’s probably how Season 2 will play out.”
Insecure is executive produced by Rae, showrunner Prentice Penny, Larry Wilmore, Melina Matsoukas, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Becky, and Jonathan Berry. Cast includes Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Amanda Seales, Natasha Rothwell, and Lisa Joyce. The season season of Insecure will premiere on HBO at 10:30pm on Sunday, July 23rd.
Following the event-opening Insecure panel, TVLine’s Michael Ausiello spoke with Lindelof and Theroux about the third and final season of their acclaimed HBO series, The Leftovers. Asked if he felt more pressure wrapping up this third eight-episode season than wrapping up another mystery-infused epic — ABC’s Lost — Lindelof agreed wholeheartedly, though he hasn’t exactly let himself off the hook.
“I think the reality is that television is an incredibly intimate medium, so I deeply want to connect with the audience, and I wish I could say that I didn’t care what anybody else thought,” the showrunner said. “I am anxious about the way the final season is going to be perceived, but I’m really proud of the work that we did.”
Created by Lindelof and Perrotta, The Leftovers will finds the Garvey and Murphy families coming together in Season 3 as they grasp desperately for a belief system to help explain that which defies explanation. The world is crackling with the energy of something big about to happen, a corresponding bookend to the “Sudden Departure” that sent them all spinning years earlier, bringing their journey Down Under.
While Lindelof promised that certain mysteries will be resolved in the Season 3 finale — an episode he claimed as one of his personal favorites of the series — don’t expect any major revelations to resolve the mystery of the show’s central event.
“The show is based on Tom Perrotta’s original novel, and when I was reading it, I was like, ‘He’s really not going to answer this question.’ And at the time I read it, Lost had just ended, and that show owed answers because it was a mystery-based show,” Lindelof said. “I just felt it would be liberating to say, ‘The one thing you’re never going to find out in The Leftovers is where everybody disappeared to, and why them.’ I think you’ll get the answers to some mysteries you weren’t expecting the answers to, but as far as the big one, we’re going to hold our cards close to our chest.”
Will the departed end up on an island somewhere, in a shocking Lost-like twist? “The Leftovers has just been a very intricate Lost prequel,” Lindelof joked. “Lost started in Australia, The Leftovers ended in Australia, so there is a nice symmetry to it.”
Produced by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television, The Leftovers is executive produced by showrunner Lindelof, Perrotta, Mimi Leder, Tom Spezialy, Gene Kelly, Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Cast includes Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Amy Brenneman, Kevin Carroll, Christopher Eccleston, Scott Glenn, Lindsay Duncan, Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Janel Moloney, Margaret Qualley, Jasmin Savoy-Brown, Liv Tyler and Chris Zylka.
The third and final season of The Leftovers premieres on HBO at 9 PM Sunday, April 16.