The Problem With #TeamLawrence, Explained » VSB

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The Problem With #TeamLawrence, Explained

HBO screenshot

 

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.

  • Kim
    • HouseOfBonnets

      *cackles*

    • Mary Burrell

      Papyrus is a nice store

    • SororSalsa

      I think that 11-pump sesh was spontaneous, just like him coming back to the apartment and then deciding to bounce, leaving only the Best Buy shirt in the closet. But I did love Thug Yoda for giving Lawrence that messy motivational speech in a way that only he could after Lawrence ruined Issa’s birthday.

  • People are always trying to “win” at relationships. Ain’t no winning, ain’t no Santa and everybody dies.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      ………ain’t no santa?

      *hangs head in sadness*

      • grownandsexy2

        lol

      • PDL….HE still working on me
        • miss t-lee

          LMAO
          I’ve always loved this music, it was so sad, even as a kid watching this on reruns…lol

          • Tam

            Saturday mornings.

          • PDL….HE still working on me

            Me too. First thing to pop in my head after reading the post. So fitting. LOL

            My brother cues it up and hums at the drop of a dime. LOL.

            • miss t-lee

              It’s so perfect, it’s right up there with my violins…lol

              • PDL….HE still working on me

                Yea indeed

    • DizzyLizzyGyal

      This message has been approved by Dark Desus aka Desus Nice of Desus & Mero lol

      Bleak but true.

    • Somehow this cheered me up. Thanks!

    • Janelle Doe

      Tell em Cog

    • Tam

      You know how much hearts you just crushed in that sentence

      • Charlito Brown

        *cue Ricky’s part on “Is This The End”

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      Chex always complicates things…?

    • MsCee

      Yes Cog! There is no winning and there is no perfect party when it ends. Both people had a hand in its demise. Relationships are two ppl with all their hurts pain and baggage combining allll that times two in hopes of cheaper rent and going half on bills. Aint no winners only survivors lol.

    • But I thought Gucci Mane is the East Atlanta Santa…

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Dashing through the snow with an extendo and an AK……

    • Question

      Just wanted to add that I think this was the biggest change for me once I got married – being right and winning don’t matter, at all.

      • You better tell these young people.

    • Transbutter

      LMAO!!!!!

      Also, quite possibly the realest thing I’ve read all day.

  • MysteryMeat

    Could it simply be that some men (or women) watching the show can identify with Lawrence and not some deep rooted toxic masculinity issue? Daaaang the guy was scrugglin. I felt his pain frim the jump.

    And im gay so the wanting to see women hurt thing doesnt apply. I’ve just been there before.

    **eyeroll

    #teamlawrenceanstuff

  • CrayolaGirl

    Im not on a team but all the eye rolls to Lawrence’s “I’m a good guys that don’t see how s h i t will play out”. He did it last season sitting on the couch forgetting birthdays and wishing his big break would come sit next to him. He came back this season with the act by sleeping with Tasha on the weekends and spouting BS plan he’s waiting on to his boy while blowing up a mattress.

    *eyes rolling in the back of my head*

    Issa makes no sense. She needs to save up some dollars so she can go to therapy too.

    • Queen@

      Right. She does need to save for some therapy. I doubt that “bomb a$s job that makes her better than Tasha” has full benefits.

  • CrayolaGirl

    I was irritated with Issa’s guilt and not handling her cheating better last season. If you’re going to cheat, own that s h i t. Either you’re going to confess or lie. If you’re going to lie, you don’t ignore the man you cheated with…tell him “it never happened and lose all my contact info”

    Both Issa and Lawrence irk my nerves

  • Love Heals

    Howling at “coital microfiche” and “bereaved balance”. Thanks.

  • Wild Cougar

    Didn’t watch it, too cheap for HBO. But I’m peeping how some people seem to think cheating is OK if the dude is broke and not giving you pipe. That’s fucked up and you’re trash if you think it’s OK. If you not into your significant other, you break up.

    • Kim

      This & only this.

    • Queen@

      All of this. Relationships go through ish. It gets tough. And maybe I can excuse your actions, but if I don’t miss me with that “but I was unhappy.” Love ain’t happiness all the time.

      If you aren’t willing to wait until he weather the storm, take a break.

      When I was engaged, my fiancee was unemployed for almost a year. We had just moved to ATL when the job he had lined up didn’t work.

      I daw him go through all the phases imaginable. When he got into that bummy PS3 phrase, I straight up told him, I can’t marry you without a stable job. And I’m not obligated to “for better or worse” at this moment.

      He took a job at a carwash, just to be out the way. The carwash job turned into a better job after he detailed a Nissan Dealership fleet. He told them his skills, he landed a job.

      But cheat with the mixtape guy,never crossed my mind.

      • Wild Cougar

        Right? Either you’re in or you’re out. Ain’t no justification for cheating.

        • Janelle Doe
        • Charlito Brown

          Queen@ and Wild Cougar speaking truth in here this evenin’.

        • Love Heals

          100% agreement. Lawrence has his mess, Issa has her dysfunction(s). She actively courted negative drama and had been somewhat apathetic about her relationship. He brushed Tasha off, she sought out Daniel, which was 100% wrong.

          • SororSalsa

            ITA. No matter what Lawrence was or was not doing, cheating is never justifiable. And Issa went down the wrong path too many times. That whole day of being with Daniel was just ridiculous. She could’ve gotten herself out of that situation a number of times, but she wanted to do it. My belief is that if you feel like you might want to cheat, break up. It will hurt, but not as much as the betrayal of cheating.

            • Love Heals

              Your last two sentences explain it perfectly. Heartbreak is bad enough without the trauma of a betrayal. Has she never heard of an emotional affair?

            • Freebird

              This show is exposing a whole lot of double standards from some of the sisterhood. Cheating is ok it seems if you are dissatisfied with the other person. Men should be taking notes.

      • PDL….HE still working on me

        Some folks only understand settling

        • Mary Burrell

          Settling sucks

          • PDL….HE still working on me

            Absolutely. No one should EVER settle. I don’t care how grim it seems of taking a pass, skipping over or not allowing folks as a last resort. You ALWAYS have options. To settle means you believe “less than” is the best you can do.

            I walk to the beat of my own drum and I have absolutely no regrets. I don’t look over at other folks cause more often than not folks are dealing with something, you just won’t know it. Peace and peace of mind is invaluable and no one should EVER sacrifice that for appearance sake, cause others, etc.

        • EmEM

          Dust settles. People shouldn’t.

    • Annalise Keating

      HBO is worth every penny for GOT and Insecure alone.

      • Wild Cougar

        I’ve watched GOT. Too violent for me. HBO is often extra for no good reason and it bores me. It’s not art. It’s shock value for its own sake and people fall for it. Insecure seems like a show that would make me turn my nose up.

        • Annalise Keating

          I hate the violence on GOT. I agree that many of these cable shows have gratuitous Chex and violence. But GOT is a great show not just because it’s based on some great books but the cinematography, set design, and editing is top notch.

          • Wild Cougar

            I agree. I would totality watch is the violence weren’t over the top. To some people, like me, it’s the equivalent of letting evil in your head. I don’t like how that feels. I wish they would just make a good story without the violence. It’s a product of white maleness and what’s wrong with this country…….

            • Janelle Doe

              Do you watch any shows? If yes what?
              *curious

              • Wild Cougar

                I’m only here so I don’t get fined.

                • Janelle Doe

                  Lol

              • PDL….HE still working on me

                Outside of PBS schex and violence is it…..oh, and the corrupt president. Dassit, that’s all in tv these days.

            • Sheryl

              We are waaay too desensitized to violence on tv. People are normalizing murder. It is entertainment. Too gross and dangerous. I agree. I won’t watch GOT, couldn’t finish Luke Cage. I like Westworld, but it had a strong story line.

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            I almost feel like it’s too much chex. Like I get it but dang… lol am I watching soft p?

            • Anonymous

              Yes. Yes, you are.

            • Mary Burrell

              Yeah kind of.

            • SororSalsa

              Do you feel like that with every show that has chex on it? Or just Insecure? It IS on cable, so there’s an extra allowance there, but I feel like Issa/Malina/etc. put a lot of effort into making the chex scenes real…and HOT. It doesn’t feel like soft p to me, it’s just nice to see some black folks getting theirs in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative.

              • TheUnsungStoryteller

                Maybe because I’m a Christian and I have my own reservations. I don’t know. I like the show but I just cant get down with all of the aspects of it, honestly.

      • blkgrlMAGICALfairydust_glitter

        FOR GAME OF THRONES AND INSECURE ALONE! when i say that they can have my money lol these are my 2 fave shows lol

    • PDL….HE still working on me

      Claps ??????????

    • PDL….HE still working on me

      ..

    • Janelle Doe

      Make it plain WC

    • Cersei

      Had to step out of the shadows to cosign this. I’m beyond confused as to why anyone is supporting Issa. The minute she let Ol’ boy smash, Lawrence became single, whether he knew it or not…

      • Freebird

        Karma is something. If you think the way she got it in was justified by what was shown in season that dude or woman you complain about is probably the person for you.

      • Question

        There’s a difference between supporting Issa and recognizing Lawrence’s wackness. The two are not mutually exclusive but folks is in here acting like this is Trump vs Hillary – one must be right and the other wrong.

        Folks is also all up in their personal dating histories in their reactions to the situation… which is cool, human… and telling.

        • Chassidy Swann

          Exactly! There’s also a double standard at play here because when a man cheats the woman almost always is made to bear at least some of the blame. The suggestion usually is that if the woman was holding it down like she should in the relationship, then the man wouldn’t cheat (or even want to cheat).

    • Freebird

      Cougar. Word.

    • MostlyMax

      And that’s the Black bottom line

    • Julia Kendrick

      Its not ok just like its not ok to cheat on your girl because she got fat, is nagging or isn’t putting out. These are just ways to place blame on the significant other who fell off when n both instances the cheater should have ended it rather than step out.

    • Sheryl

      Betrayal should replace the word cheating. I think that oftentimes people don’t like to feel betrayed. If someone has true intentions and is clear with their intentions, then emotional expectations stay leveled. But sometimes passion over powers judgement. It is real life after all.

      • FromTokyo

        I’d personally say cheated and betrayed.

    • FromTokyo

      Very much agree. I think some folks feel like they can’t let go because they already sunk X-amount of years into a person (possibly an unwise investment from the jump), so maybe it’ll eventually pay off. Meanwhile, they’ll get their itch scratched elsewhere. There’s every excuse in the book for not following the “simplest” solution (chief amount them that the simplest is the most difficult). I’d rather someone flat out break up with me in front of a huge crowd at our wedding than cheat on me. Save me time and pain. Don’t make a fool out of me, period.

  • Khal Drag A Hoe

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Hugh Akston

    Man Ishida has no chill

  • WenzelDashington

    The Lawrence Hive is in formation because somebody had to point out lady BS in the culture..

    • miss t-lee

      Finally had a champion, eh?

      • BM, President of Fuckery

        Yeah! I screamed “WORD! THAT’S RIGHT MISS TEE LEE” when he awkwardly kisses Issa at the end!

      • WenzelDashington

        Outkast did it well on Roses but this isn’t TV it’s HBO with potentially seasons of get back.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah, didn’t watch Outlast either.

        • Charlito Brown

          Ohhhh Outkast*?

          • miss t-lee

            I just put two and two together…lol

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      yeah, I mean dudes don’t even own everything yet. issa problem

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