More Than Just a Couch
By Kindsey Young
An exploration of how Insecure has used couches to show the highs and lows of Issa’s late twenties.
Hey again, Insecure Fam! According to a survey (me), a couch is likely the most essential piece of furniture in one’s home; especially to a twenty-something. To a twenty-something, a couch is a statement, and pretty much where everything goes down. And by everything, I do mean everything: Eating, sleeping, watching TV, deep conversations, tears of joy, tears of sadness, bad decisions, more bad decisions, break-ups, make-ups, etc. Since it’s all about the highs and lows of twenty-something life, Insecure smartly uses the couch as a device to symbolically represent Issa’s personal journey.
At the beginning of Season 1, Issa and Lawrence had an old, raggedy couch in their living room — which can arguably represent the recent raggedness of their relationship. Lawrence flaked on Issa’s birthday plans, she felt he hadn’t been proactive in “getting his shit together,” and then Issa had a triggering run-in with her “what-if” guy, Daniel — all of which sparked Issa to start to question her relationship even more.
So, when Issa and Lawrence went out to buy a new couch in Episode 104, “Thirsty as F**k,” it was in an attempt to refresh their relationship. One of Insecure's writer, Amy Aniobi, shared some input with me: “The moment when you finally get your first new, nice couch, is usually a representation of a moment when you are ‘growing up’ and becoming (at least a version of) who you want to be as an adult. So, when their relationship didn’t work out and Issa gifted Lawrence the new couch in Season 2, it was significant because Issa knew she still had some growing to do.”
The couple going out to buy a new couch together was important because it represented the aspiration of wanting to fix things, start fresh, and grow up together. However, it was not a coincidence at all that the old, raggedy couch remained outside of the apartment throughout the season. It was just a constant reminder of their broken relationship and the feelings they were both trying to “couch.”
In the Season 2 finale, Issa hosts a yard sale and someone asks her, “How much for the couch?” Issa is hesitant, knowing the real answer: priceless. It holds too much of her past to just give away to a stranger. Instead, she offers it to Lawrence. There’s something so inherently hard about getting rid of an object that holds so much history. Hence, why I may or may not still have my B2k posters… but that’s another write-up.
By the end of Season 2, Issa has pretty much hit rock bottom — she has no apartment, no car, no man, and well — no couch. In the last seconds of the finale, we were left with seeing Issa knock on a door that we assumed to be her brother, Ahmal’s. But, plot twist! It turns out to be Daniel’s door. Ah, Daniel. Such a mysterious yet refreshing soul. He’s always there to save the day for Issa. She immediately says to him, “I’m sleeping on the couch,” and he simply responds, “I know.”
In Issa’s mind, Daniel’s home will be a place of stability. A “safe space” where she can be comfortable and hide from life’s setbacks. As Amy put it, “Issa is borrowing stability from other people until she finds her own.” With Daniel, things are supposed to be easier... or so she thought. In the beginning of the third season, we do see Issa settled on Daniel’s couch. But, not only is the couch seemingly uncomfortable, (something a couch should absolutely never be), but Issa now has a front row seat to the Daniel show: She can hear him having sex with another woman from the couch she now rests her head on! Bummer. Poor Issa. I guess when it’s all said and done, you really can’t spell couch without ‘ouch.’