The Problem With #TeamLawrence, Explained » VSB

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The Problem With #TeamLawrence, Explained

(Photo by HBO)

Who is Lawrence?

Lawrence Walker is a character from Insecure, an HBO show which derives from Issa Rae’s The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl web series. In season one, the unemployed and then underemployed Lawrence (Jay Ellis) was Issa’s live-in boyfriend — a relationship that lasted for (I think) four years.

After growing frustrated with their inert co-habitation and Lawrence’s apparent lack of drive — and apparent lack of sex drive — Issa rekindled a relationship with Daniel (Y’lan Noel), an old flame from high school. And after several weeks of allowing the sexual tension between them to build, sex was eventually had, and backs were impressively broken.

So Issa cheated on Lawrence?

She did.

Shit. So what happened next?

Well, this is where it begins to get even murkier and messier. Issa’s frustrations with Lawrence were apparent and understandable. And while Lawrence didn’t force her to cheat — no one has that power over another person — he didn’t exactly present the most compelling counterargument. He didn’t walk her through that door. But he did give her Waze directions to it.

But, Issa stepping out happened to happen right when Lawrence finally seemed to be getting his shit together; allowing their relationship — which had long plateaued — to be on the upswing. He got a gig at Best Buy. He started shaving and showering and shit. His dick even started working again!

(Also, somehow Lawrence got into extremely good shape. Like American Ninja Warrior-level shape. Or just started wearing better clothes to show what type of shape he’d actually been in the entire time. Which is a little peculiar because that type of shape requires countless hours at the gym — which he wasn’t spending — and a membership to said gym — which he couldn’t afford. But maybe Lawrence just spent all day every day doing push-ups or something. Who knows?)

Naturally, Issa appreciated this change, and wished to erase Daniel from her coital microfiche and submerge herself into this new and improved Lawrence.

Issa seems rather trash for that though, right?

No comment.

Ooooookay. So, moving on, did Lawrence ever find out about Daniel?

Of course he did!

Shit! What happened?

Both Lawrence and Daniel showed up to one of Issa’s work events. Lawrence’s spidey-senses went off after seeing Daniel and Issa interact with each other, and he confronted her about it later that night. She told him the truth, and he was naturally and understandably devastated by that. As was she. It was pretty damn intense. Furniture moved, and all doves present cried.

So far you’ve described a very typical and unspectacular relationship and break-up. A coupling fractured by Issa’s (admittedly predictable) infidelity, which was in large part encouraged by Lawrence committing the mortal sin of impermissible brokeness. 

The mortal sin of brokeness? Are you saying it’s a sin to be broke?

No. Just that, if in a relationship, you can’t be broke AND not breaking backs. Of course, anti-brokeness and frequent back-breaking is ideal. But if you’re forced to choose a broke, you can’t choose both. 

I see.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because I don’t see why Lawrence even has a team. Nothing he’s done so far make him — or Issa for that matter — team-worthy.

Well, Lawrence’s team-worthiness is one hundred thousand trillion percent due to Tasha.

Tasha? Who’s Tasha?

Tasha (Dominique Perry) is a cute and sexy bank teller who’d been very obviously flirting with Lawrence from the beginning of the season.

Wait, I thought you said Lawrence was broke and ashy as fuck for the first half of the season. How does he have cute and sexy women still flirting with him — particularly a cute and sexy woman who works at the bank and can see Lawrence’s bereaved balance each time he swipes his sad-ass ATM card?

Because he’s tall and has a nice beard. And tall niggas with beards have tall-and-bearded-nigga privilege.

This is true. So, what happened with Tasha?

After Lawrence and Issa broke up, we witnessed both of them crashing through the stages of relationship mourning. Issa wanted to get back together. Lawrence seemed to want to too. And some clever writing and editing in the season finale made us believe that might happen. But while Issa was waiting for Lawrence back at their apartment — after they’d agreed to meet there — Lawrence had actually already dipped out and was toe, foot, ankle, shin, knee, and thigh deep inside of Tasha, with a series of furious backshots that blasted atomic shock waves through the internet. Season two is basically the nuclear winter.

I’m still not quite understanding why this has given Lawrence a whole entire team. None of this seems whole entire team worthy.

Well, there’s a couple things going on here. First, there’s the fact that he responded to a quite humiliating break-up with the backshots of fury. For many men — shit, for many people — this is the dream reaction to that type of embarrassment. Get tripped up, but fall right into the arms of someone who’s both attractive and has been waiting for your ass with open, um, arms.

But ultimately, Team Lawrence is about schadenfreude. It’s not just that he’s doing “better.” It’s that this doing better is directly hurting the woman who hurt him. Lawrence, essentially, is a proxy for all the men who believe (rightly or wrongly) that they’ve been played by women. And a proxy for the type of man who enjoys seeing women experience some sort of comeuppance. Team Lawrence exists to shame Issa.

And nothing exemplifies this contentious dynamic more than the infamous Best Buy shirt left at their old apartment, which exists as a virtual Rorschach test for your proximity to and feelings about general relationship-related fuckshit. If you’re #TeamShitHappensBecauseRelationshipsAreHardAndCanBeMessy — which is the team I’m on — he just left the shirt behind because he didn’t need or want it anymore. But if you’re #TeamLawrence or #TeamIssa or #TeamFuckLawrence or #TeamFuckIssa, that shirt was an intentional sign; a message Lawrence delivered just to fuck with her.

And now, in season two, everything Lawrence does is seen through that Best Buy polo lens. Instead of the weird and awkward and raw post-break up quickie just being exactly what post-break up sex often is, both #TeamLawrence and #TeamIssa members seem to see it as some sort of message; a final fuck you to Issa. (Which, of course, #TeamLawrence loved and #TeamIssa hated.)

You seem to be pretty down on #TeamLawrence but actually sympathetic to Lawrence himself. 

Well, I think much of this sympathy is due to Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore and whoever else was involved with the writing of these characters. As a guy who actually went through a similar stretch of unemployment and underemployment several years ago, I know how that type of financial purgatory can lead to an existential malaise and self-doubt, where you know what’s expected of you as a MAN PERSON and you’re very aware you’re falling short of that. And while I joked earlier about the mortal sin of total brokeness, it’s hard as fuck for some guys to feel like and be “the man” in the bedroom when you’re not the man anywhere else. That sense of emasculation can be self-induced, but that doesn’t make it any less real. So I get why Lawrence was depressed, and I also get why Issa was increasingly frustrated with it. And I get why she cheated. And I get why he entertained Tasha. And I get why they broke up. And I get why he was so devastated by it.

The canonization of Lawrence by #TeamLawrence, however, exists primary as a result of seeing Lawrence “get over on” Issa. Which means, for #TeamLawrence, “getting over on” someone just means leaving one mess and creating another. Because we know, and #TeamLawrence knows, that while Tasha seems to be cool with their Wendy’s Value Meal and Weekend Backshots deal right now, she actually seems to like him and likely wants more. Which we all know he aint going to give her, because he’s still not over Issa. Basically, while Lawrence’s (and Issa’s) dysfunction and messiness right now is understandable, #TeamLawrence aint rooting for Lawrence. They’re rooting for his dysfunction and that mess.

Wow, that was deep man. Who knew a show about regular-ass niggas experiencing regular-ass shit could be so complex?

Issa knew, man. Issa knew.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Lisss

    *Read the title*

    Oooohh Damon tryin to start some ish !!

    *Grabs peach-flavored yogourt and goes to read article*

    • Tam

      Yeah I am team sitting on bench looking on

      • Janelle Doe

        Flats or drums though?
        (Just kidding)
        ;-)
        I also don’t watch the show. I have been at zero for all the shows they post about except This Is Us

        • Tam

          I started fell off the wagon and promised to get back on. So I mostly sit this one out.

  • Jamie Toney

    LOL! According to the costume designer they purposely made him look slouchy at the beginning of Season 1 and put him in too big clothes…but Jay Ellis was tightening up.

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    Anti guy on girl tv show
    TV ratchet enthusiasm
    Girl movie enthusiasm
    Girl TV show enthusiasm
    Suicide of a man
    Girl from girl movie enthusiasm

    Hmmm

  • LyricMeThis

    Totally agree with the above synopsis. I love Issa Rae and I am absolutely here for season 2 and will be watching all of the fall out. #TeamIssa cuz that cold move at the end with Lawrence getting it in after leaving that best buy shirt hurt even my feelings. LOL!

  • I have two reasons why #TeamLawrence is a Good Thing. For one, since women are people, they are capable of doing BS in relationships. However, there’s a distinct lack of examples in popular culture of men processing how they deal with being done dirty in relationships. The whole Insecure situation is refreshing because it is at least somewhat reflective of my experience.

    Granted, my experience was slightly more extreme (with hospitalizations for mental issues, getting fired from jobs trying to deal with said issues, spending time and money eye dealing with that, THEN getting cheated on), but it’s better than the alternative. Also, having that outlet is better than a heartbroken dude jump down the rabbit hole of the Red Pill, where there’s a mix of support and anger at women in general.

    The other point is that Lawrence isn’t per season being messy. I’ve been where he is where he’s feeling things out after a break up and he isn’t really sure where he’s headed. He might chuck Tasha out the door. He might fall in love (which I think would be dumb and dangerous considering his mindset). Tasha might even be down for the long stroke and #dassit. A man exploring his $exuality doesn’t have to be malicious or evil. He’s just smashing Tasha. Let him cook, and don’t be so quick to ascribe it to dysfunction.

    • Lisss

      Its dysfonctionnal af when he brought those chump pumps over to Issa 1) knowing she wants to get back together, 2) knowing he smashing soemone else, 3) giving Issa that weak stroke game after all that backblowing with Tasha.

      • Wild Cougar

        Maybe he was more s exually attracted to Tasha.

        • Brother Mouzone

          Ding ding ding

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      Reading some of these Team Issa replies got me opening spreadsheet to keep track.

      • I get Team Issa though. Issa cheated on Lawrence out of simple unhappiness instead of evil, hurt or pathology. For women, seeing THAT is liberating. Just realize that it isn’t necessarily right.

        • Brooklyn_Bruin

          Unhappiness? Lust.

        • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

          So is Team Issa celebrating Issa’s character cheating as a result of Lawrence’s apparent aintsh1tness, or are they celebrating finally seeing a woman on television doing what men have done since time immemorial?

          • I would say that it’s a product of both

            • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

              So why aren’t women coming out and saying so?

              • Because it is not socially acceptable for women to openly ask for $ex unless it is within certain socially acceptable parameters.

              • CrayolaGirl

                I’m a woman and I don’t know what Todd is talking about. But whatever.

                • L8Comer

                  same

              • SororSalsa

                I don’t condone cheating, and I don’t see Issa cheating as liberating. But I can see that both Lawrence and Issa were trash, and that they needed to break up, because they were together out of a sense of inertia. They were both stuck, and they both need to figure out what they want. I don’t think Issa is sure about wanting to be back with Lawrence…she just knows she doesn’t like where she is now. Lawrence should’ve just embarked on getting some Tinder loving and not settled into Tasha’s creases, because it’s obvious she is not down with just the get down and this is going to be ugly when she realizes that Lawrence is just not that into her.

                • ladyfresh

                  All this.

                • OrangeStarrHappyHunting

                  Yes ma’am.

              • Question

                Cuz women put too much stock in dating. Lawrence got cheated on. They were dating. Whatever. Move on.

                But folks is in here writing think pieces about morality and character. People date with too many rules and unspoken expectations…

        • Queen@

          Issa fucked Daniel because she wanted to… she wanted to know if it was the same or better. That is liberating. To not have to rationalize why you have a sexual attraction to something that is off limits. And then to act on said actions without giving two fucks about the consequence.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        I explained yesterday lol

      • Janelle Doe

        Hahaha you didn’t start the spreadsheet the last time we had these Issa v Lawrence conversations?

      • Tam

        Why am I not surprised

    • Khal Drag A Hoe

      Lawrence needs therapy. He needs to be on that couch, fixing his life and not smashing the pain away. Because that is dysfunction.

      • Would you recommend the same thing for a woman similarly situated? If so that’s fine. If not, I got questions.

        • Khal Drag A Hoe

          Yes. Lawrence is dysfunctional – having $ex to dull away the pain and jumping into something new is a terrible coping mechanism.

          A lot of men do this and normalize it and it’s terrible and toxic. Plus you hurt other people while you are using them as a distraction.

          This man needs therapy along with other men who think he’s not doing anything wrong.

          • Here’s my beef with such a request. I’m not saying Lawrence doesn’t actually need therapy. Honestly, the show is leaving that concept up in the air for the narrative arc to work. What I will say is that men being told that they need therapy is often code for “shut up about your problems unless you speak to a designated person”. It’s low-key controlling, in my opinion.

            Meanwhile, a woman who has been cheated on is often encouraged to talk about it with her friends, often over some drinks or junk food, all while not being blamed for being cheated on. Yeah, there are some idiots who will attack a woman for being cheated on, but they’re in the minority.

            • Khal Drag A Hoe

              In my experience and my time on the internet, men are rarely told that they need therapy. Their dysfunctional habits are justified and normalized. And I’m not saying Lawrence doesn’t need to talk to his friends, he should open up about his feelings.

              But he needs to go to therapy and learn self awareness on how to be a better partner and ultimately a better person. He lacks self awareness and his behavior is encouraged by his friends.

              Women are often told they are crazy and need therapy.

              • My experience is different than yours. I’ve seen men told they need therapy…and often in the same tone of voice cruder people use to tell others to go F themselves. And when women are told they’re crazy and need therapy, it’s rarely because of relationships.

                We’ll agree to disagree.

                • Khal Drag A Hoe

                  That’s best that we agree to disagree because what you are saying is definitely not common.

                  But Lawrence DOES need therapy. He’s acting out. He’s an unhealthy dude. Y’all are cheering for dysfunction.

              • SororSalsa

                Looking at how talking to his friends went in Season 1, I don’t think that they would be much help to Lawrence. If he had better support, I think they would be a good resource for him, but is it common for guys to pour out their feelings amongst each other?

                • Khal Drag A Hoe

                  Right his friends are terrible.

                  I’m not sure if it’s common, and I assume it isn’t because too many ninjas act out and say and do toxic things like… Having unprotected $ex with multiple people and dog out women

              • Brother Mouzone

                Wow, HE needs to learn how to be a better partner and better person? Lol. These are the types of seeds being planted that germinate into TeamLaw trees.

                • Khal Drag A Hoe

                  He does need to learn how to be a better partner and better person. Where are my lies?

                • Khal Drag A Hoe

                  I don’t applaud male mediocrity. He was a mediocre partner, at best.

                  • Question

                    This. I keep asking – where is his pride as a man?!? Dude is so wack.

                  • Brother Mouzone

                    What does it say about her that she was so distraught about losing this “mediocre” partner. And neither of them deserves any applause for their partner skills.

                    • Khal Drag A Hoe

                      People love mediocre people all the time. People love and miss terrible people all the time. People don’t love and don’t miss wonderful people all the time.

                      And once again, this is the problem with Lawrence hive: y’all think if i criticize lawrence, i’m team issa. No, she needs therapy, she was flaw.

                      But lawrence was mediocre at best.

                    • Brother Mouzone

                      I’m not in anyone’s “hive”. Actually, I don’t care at all about these fictional characters. I’m just contributing to the discussion.

            • cakes_and_pies

              How is telling someone they need therapy controlling when you’ve mentioned dealing with your ex who needed and required therapy?

              • It’s in how it’s said. Not everyone saying it is coming from a place of sincerity.

          • SororSalsa

            I think Tasha is one of those unfortunate folks that think they can smash their way into a relationship. I feel a bit bad for her, but if you wanna play Clean Up Woman, you’re bound to get dirty.

            • OrangeStarrHappyHunting

              Leading with se x is never a good idea unless that is all you about.

          • Sheryl

            While I think therapy is a tool, I don’t think it is the ONLY tool for black men trying ot heal.. I think maybe a counsel of elders, sports, something to channel his energy.

            • Khal Drag A Hoe

              Black people need to embrace therapy tbh.

              Also chances are his elders think what he’s doing is okay. So perpetuating a toxic mindset is not the move.

        • Khal Drag A Hoe

          Lawrence needed therapy in season 1 and he needs some now. He’s dysfunctional.

      • SororSalsa

        Hurt people smash people.

      • Furious Styles

        He’s not ready for therapy; his actions haven’t cost him enough yet.

        • Khal Drag A Hoe

          That’s also why he doesn’t realize how $hitty of a bf he was, he is getting positive reinforcement for his bull$hit.

          • HouseSublime

            It’ll be nigh impossible to realize that since Issa cheated. Once someone cheats it’s far too easy to dump 100% of the relationship failure on them (which I understand).

    • Sheryl

      Great perspective. I think we also act so confused when men do violent things to women. Often it is because we don’t understand how men think. Nothing of course is justified. But male emotions, especially black male emotions are rarely explored at depth when it comes to love for a black woman on tv. When was the last time we watched a movie about a black man passionately in love with a black woman? Love Jones? Tyler Perry movies are mostly about women struggling with love.

  • TD

    I’m #TeamLawrence because Jay Ellis is fine with a body/booty. #ThatIsAll #IgnantButTrue

    • HouseOfBonnets

      #BackshotsOfRighteousness

      • TD

        Exactly

  • miss t-lee

    I don’t know even watch the show and knew team Lawrence and the #LawrenceHive were as full of sh*t as a holiday turkey.

    • Janelle Doe

      The visual on that though…

      • miss t-lee

        Effective? LOL

        • Janelle Doe

          Lol, yep.

    • Tam

      Because they think they have the upper hand.

      • miss t-lee

        I know girl, I know.

        • Tam

          Low them, he going mess up soon though.

    • NonyaB?

      My sentiments exactly! LOL. It’s not a badge/elevation to be cheated on and furiously rebounding; it’s just fxcking. He sounds underwhelming.

      • miss t-lee

        Bingo.

    • Mary Burrell

      He just look cute nekkid.

      • miss t-lee

        Not my cup of tea, Mary. ?

  • HouseOfBonnets
    • siante

      this gif lol

      • HouseOfBonnets

        If I’m gonna return from hiatus i’ma make it look petty lol

        • Janelle Doe

          *taking notes

    • miss t-lee

      HAAAA at this gif.

  • Seymore Cases

    Issa could have walked out the door anytime. She chose to cheat and then tried to hide it when she felt regret. It’s not complicated. #TeamIssa was wrong and now she wishes she could take it back. #TeamLawrence was slacking but he was always true to #TeamIssa.

    I suspect they’ll eventually get back together.

  • Aintnuthinwrongwitcornbread

    ” I know how that type of financial purgatory can lead to an existential malaise and self-doubt, where you know what’s expected of you as a MAN PERSON and you’re very aware you’re falling short of that. And while I joked earlier about the mortal sin of total brokeness, it’s hard as fuck for some guys to feel like and be “the man” in the bedroom when you’re not the man anywhere else. That sense of emasculation can be self-induced, but that doesn’t make it any less real. So I get why Lawrence was depressed…”

    Bars, Damon. Bars.

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