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‘Insecure’ Showrunner Prentice Penny on Issa Rae’s Brutally Honest Comedy – IndieWire’s TURN IT ON Podcast

Also in this episode: Jenni Konner's recent account of how Lena Dunham was accosted inappropriately by a producer, and a review of Sarah Jessica Parker's new HBO show "Divorce."

Insecure Issa Rae

Issa Rae

HBO/Anne Marie Fox

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST: ‘Timeless’ Creators Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan on Their Unique Partnership – IndieWire’s TURN IT ON Podcast

HBO’s new comedy ‘Insecure’ is like nothing else on television, and that’s by design. The show is an honest portrayal of two African American women who are best friends just trying to figure out what they want out of life – the kind of characters that can’t just be stereotyped into a certain “type.” Issa Rae created the show (along with Larry Wilmore) and plays Issa, a woman whose romantic relationship is at a crossroads, and whose job at a nonprofit, surrounded by overeager and often clueless co-workers, is less than fulfilling.


Melina Masoukas, Prentice Penny, Issa Rae, “Insecure”

Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Prentice Penny helped adapt and shape the show for television, and built a writers room that reflected the show’s honest and real make up. Penny’s credits include “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Happy Endings” and “Girlfriends.” But this is his first time actually leading a TV series as showrunner. We sat down with Prentice to hear how it’s going – and how “Insecure” depicts code-switching, dating, South Los Angeles, and so much more.

Penny discusses some of the unique choices that the show made, some of which shouldn’t be considered revolutionary but are. He also shares his experiences growing up in both predominantly African-American and predominantly white environments, and navigating the world of predominantly white writers’ rooms. “It can be difficult, it can be uncomfortable at times,” Penny said. “Do you make a stand on this thing, and if you do, are you going to be considered ‘The black guy who’s doing this’? But you don’t want to let it slide… it’s like chess. And you’re trying to be a good writer in the room. There’s all these levels of not just the work, but the perception of how you’re perceived in the work. To navigate that can be tricky.”

Also on this edition of IndieWire’s “Turn It On,” Liz Shannon Miller discusses “Girls” executive producer Jenni Konner’s recent account of how Lena Dunham was accosted inappropriately by a producer, and Ben Travers on whether Sarah Jessica Parker’s new HBO show “Divorce” is worth watching.

Listen below!

READ MORE: ‘Insecure’ Review: Issa Rae’s HBO Debut is Familiar and Adventurous in Unequal Doses

IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now in TV – no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. Each episode features interviews with producers, reviews, essays on the latest buzz and trends, plus a roundup of what’s premiering and what’s returning over the coming week. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.

LISTEN: ‘Westworld’: HBO’s Sci-Fi Western Might Be the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ (Very Good TV Podcast)

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