Insecure Feels Your Pay Inequity Pain

Image screengrab via HBO
Image screengrab via HBO

In the beginning of Insecure’s Season 2 premiere last night, Molly sits across from her therapist and says with assurance, “I feel like I’m exactly where I should be in my career.” Because as disgruntled as Molly has been in the dating department, work is supposed to be a reliable, fulfilling escape for her, away from all the personal frustrations she buries so deep that her therapist has to pull teeth to open her up.


But then, in Sunday night’s premiere, Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) mistakenly receives the paycheck of a white male coworker at her law firm, Merrill, Johnson & Schwartz. What’s implicit in her shocked facial expression in the moment is that Travis’ earnings ($6,991.54) are far higher than what she makes. This is officially a professional crisis that’s especially appalling because Molly knows that dude is a slacker.

This is also the point where you probably felt a sharp stabbing pain on the right side of your body because wage gap statistics are now ingrained in our spirits, particularly the inequity between white women and black women. The disparity becomes an even deeper offense for Molly because she works harder and because it comes with an emotionally hostile corporate environment. We see this in Sunday’s episode during a conversation about the firm’s Chicago office when Molly’s white male colleague says, “Do you think the cold has anything to do with how violent it is out there? ’Cause I get it.” He clearly doesn’t. In a nice twist of irony, this Get Out-style moment includes a coworker played by Lil Rel from Get Out. And these are the moments where Insecure works its magic subtly and becomes deeply accessible.

Later on at the event, Molly tries to subtly extract information from Travis at the bar (did he recently receive a raise?). After he rudely suggests that the firm’s partner Hannah transferred to Chicago because she “couldn’t handle the pressure” and blames a lack of initiative, Molly defends Hannah’s work ethic and brings up the importance of feeling valued: “Right, ’cause everyone automatically listens to a woman when she opens her mouth.” We all there’s no satisfying response to his mansplaining, but can Molly just get what she deserves? As this narrative evolves throughout the second season (disclosure: I watched the first four episodes via HBO screeners), Insecure continues to do something rare on television, outlining Molly’s internal professional battle with sad familiarity.

Culture Editor, Jezebel



About a year and a half ago, I asked for a raise. I was told in no uncertain terms that our company was in a hiring freeze and giving out no raises. I understood; we’d lost some clients and had some layoffs.

Six months later, a (slacker) male coworker and I got drunk together and he revealed that he’d gotten two raises in previous 6 months.

I jumped ship from that hellhole within 3 months (and got a 33% pay raise at my next job), but I’ve never stopped being angry about it.