10 shows like ‘Insecure’
HBO’s Insecure debuted in 2016 to critical acclaim and continued to receive rave reviews throughout its five-season run. The comedy drama shed a light on black women in their 20s living in Los Angeles as they navigate life, love, career, and so much more. Created by Issa Rae and Larry Whitmore, and partially based on Rae’s Awkward Black Girl series, Insecure became a cultural phenomenon and received numerous nominations and accolades.
Insecure gave us comedy, romance, and a lot of emotions, and the audience felt kindred with the characters. There’s no doubt fans miss Issa and Molly’s on again/off again relationship and their hilarious friendship group, and you may be wondering what other shows to watch that highlight the African American experience in a positive and refreshing light. Here are 10 shows, both old and new, that share similarities with the popular series.
Amazon Prime’s Harlem is one of the shows most like Insecure. It features the classic girlfriend-group story of ambitious best friends living in Harlem who navigate life individually and as a collective. Created and executive produced by Tracy Oliver, the show has been praised for the cohesion between the four main leads, which make for a fun watch. If your favorite scenes of Insecure involved having Issa, Molly, Kelli and Tiffany in the same room, Harlem should definitely be at the top of your watch list.
A classic nineties sitcom, Living Single aired for five seasons and marked one of the first times black women were portrayed as ambitious and career-driven on television. The show detailed the hilarious lives of friends and roommates living in Brooklyn in the nineties and was a huge success when it debuted. The characters were fully developed and humorous in different ways, and the show became an instant classic and is considered one of the best black sitcoms of all time. Living Single became a highly influential show and paved the way for many shows centered around the young adult experience, including NBC’s hit series, Friends.
Another acclaimed series about the black millennial experience, Atlanta shares a lot of similarities with Insecure. The main characters, Donald Glover’s Earnest Marks and Issa Rae’s Issa Dee are two unique and artistic individuals trying to make it. This Emmy-winning show is also heavily centered on friendship and touches on some serious issues like racism and poverty. Both shows feature a predominantly black cast living pretty normal lives and their millennial experiences.
When Netflix announced in 2020 that they acquired the rights to this classic show, among other memorable black shows, the internet lost it… and for good reason! Girlfriends ran for eight seasons and has become the quintessential 2000s television series depicting multiple female African American experiences. Following the lives of four very different, but tight-knit friends: Joan, Maya, Toni, and Lynn, Girlfriends is one of the largest influences for many black shows today, and one of the most popular black television shows in history.
A Black Lady Sketch Show
Rae also serves as producer on this HBO show created by Robin Thede, and occasionally guest stars. Consisting of hilarious comedy sketches featuring black women, this anthology series has received very positive reviews for its talented cast and sharp, witty sketches. There are funny, awkward, and very relatable scenes that may remind viewers of Insecure, albeit a more dynamic version where the leads take on the roles of multiple characters.
She’s Gotta Have It
This short-lived television series created by Spike Lee and based on his debut film of the same name offers an enjoyable binge. It stars DeWanda Wise as Nola Darling, who is an unsettled artist just like Issa, and struggles in her personal and dating life, juggling quite a few men. Fans of Insecure know too well that Issa’s dating life was not the most straightforward, and she had a couple of bumps in the road. The two leads share a passion for art above all, and while they’ve become content with not fitting in, they do experience significant levels of emotional growth as the show progresses, staying true to themselves.
Run the World
The growing theme of four female best friends living life and growing together continues to work very well, and Run the World is no exception. Set in Harlem, this Starz show follows a group of loyal and driven best friends as they strive to be the most successful versions of themselves while having the classic struggles in their love lives. What works best for Run the World, however, is the chemistry between the four leads, which makes their relationship extremely fun to watch. Yvette Lee Bowser, who produced the iconic Living Single, also serves as the show’s executive producer, and who better to handle a show about four black girlfriends?
Being Mary Jane
Gabrielle Union stars as the titular character in the BET drama about the professional and personal life of a news anchor in Atlanta. Created by Mara Brock Akil, who also created the aforementioned Girlfriends, there’s a lot of ups and downs in the life of the lead character. While not a comedy like the other shows on the list, it fully delves into the young black woman experience with love, career, family, and identity. The series marked the first time BET would produce an hour-long scripted series, and it earned high ratings for the network.
First Wives Club
Inspired by the film of the same name, the series follows the friendship of three black successful women who bond together after their marriages have hit the rocks. The women realize they’re stronger as a collective and lean on each other. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments in this comedy series, and the chemistry of the main trio serves to amplify women’s friendships after their 30s. If you’re wondering what the friendships of the characters of Insecure might look like in a decade, give this series a watch.
Created by Lena Waithe, this single-camera comedy is about a group of women in their twenties chasing their dreams in Los Angeles. The star of the show is Hattie — portrayed by Jonica T. Gibbs — a lesbian who is trying, and failing to get her life together. Things are way better than they could be since she has her two best friends with her. Just like Issa, Hattie has serious dreams to accomplish, and for the most part, is surrounded by successful women who don’t understand her as well as she would like.