Andrew on ‘Insecure’ is Issa Rae’s middle finger to Cancel Culture
When Alexander Hodge showed up in the Coachella scene of HBO’s “Insecure,” eyebrows raised. The actress and creator of HBO’s “Insecure” had already been canceled for a chapter in her 2015 book “The Misadventures of Awkward Girl.”
Speaking about the dating obstacles that African-American women and Asian men deal with (specifically considering African-American men and Asian women are more likely to be open to interracial dating), the actress said, “This is why I propose that black women and Asian men join forces in love, marriage and procreation. Educated black women, what better intellectual match for you than an Asian man? And I’m not talking about Filipinos, they’re like the Blacks of Asians. I’m talking Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, et cetera.”
While Filipinos definitely could’ve felt a way about that line, if you know the tone of Issa Rae’s dry humor, she has love for Filipinos, too. (If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have compared them to Blacks, of which she is one. Senegalese is still under our umbrella, thanks.) The point was for sistas to open themselves up to other types of men. Three years after the book was released, Cancel Culture decided to have an angry book club meeting and cause an uproar about that chapter. (Cancel Culture does not have a statute of limitations. They’re mad about Jimmy Fallon’s blackface “SNL” skit from 20 years ago right now, completely ignoring the major cultural changes in comedy do’s and don’ts from then to now. “In Living Color” would’ve been grounds for all kinds of LGBTQ+ protests, while we’re at it.)
The easy way out would have been for Issa Rae to flood “Insecure” with the darkest, most splendidly handsome brothas she could find to “save” herself from the backlash of Cancel Culture. (Viewers like myself thank her profusely for every scene with Y’lan Noel.) But Cancel Culture has a habit of wanting to win instead of wanting to just have the conversation to learn and reevaluate. Instead of bowing down to it, the creators of “Insecure” challenged the same people who were challenging her. In comes Andrew (played by Hodge), who is flirting profusely with Molly (played by Yvonne Anuli Orji), a black woman who cannot wrap her mind around the idea of being an African-American woman dating an Asian man — similar to Cancel Culture’s loudest protesters.
Issa Rae and her “Insecure” team could’ve picked a white-washed version of an Asian man, or someone so racially ambiguous that viewers are not quite sure what race he is. Nope, she picked a tall guy who is Chinese and from Australia. Viewers don’t know about the accent until after-show interviews, but there’s no way to deny his features. And he is gorgeous (and in his real life, dating a brown-skinned black woman).
According to Hodge in GQ Australia, “Growing up Chinese-Australian in Australia, I had a fear of being seen by other people. I actually think I needed to outgrow a lot of that in order to succeed at acting.”
Two seasons later, viewers have decided Andrew is one of their favorites — even after he made the big move to get rid of the “Russell Brand hair.” According to one Twitter user, “Can we keep Andrew on the show even if him & Molly don’t make it?”
Here comes Kumail Nanjiani with his kissy face
After viewers fell in love with Andrew, even though Molly is treating him like a see-saw on every episode but the one in Mexico, Issa Rae didn’t stop there. She made herself the comical love interest of Kumail Nanjiani, the same guy who cried about people making loaves of bread in social isolation. He is not nearly as smooth as Andrew, but you’ve got to hand it to him. His “I’m going to kiss you face” is something else in the Netflix movie. Issa Rae picked the right time to do this film. Her fanbase was already locked in and wondering where else she would go with this. Does it help that Nanjiani was in “Men’s Health” magazine and became jacked out of absolutely nowhere? Yes, yes it does. But humor is already sexy. Add on a nice beard and dreamy eyes, and it’s a win!
But there is a different trigger going off with viewers. In the opening scene of Netflix’s “The Lovebirds,” which appears to be a one-night stand that transitioned into breakfast the next day, Nanjiani is attractive and fully clothed. Before Andrew was smacking Molly on the ass and banging her out over a balcony in Mexico, viewers were long ago interested in him romantically, too.
While Team Lawrence (Issa’s TV ex-boyfriend, played by Jay Ellis) is still in full effect and cheering on muscular, tech-savvy brothas, Issa Rae has opened the floodgates to help her single lady viewers open their minds. For every Nathan (played by Kendrick Sampson), Dro (played by Sarunas Jackson) and Daniel (played by Noel), who says there isn’t room for more Andrews to be loved, too? This time around, Cancel Culture lost — and badly.
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