When COVID-19 began spreading rapidly in the U.S. in March and people were forced to shelter indoors, TV programming swiftly became a much-needed diversion for many.
Issa Rae feels that was the case with her show “Insecure,” with its fourth season starting in April when the virus continued to rage on. The show, she created, she believes, has helped many during these difficult days of coronavirus and nationwide protests for racial equality that began after the May 25 death of George Floyd as he was being arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The writer, producer, and actress spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about “Insecure,” which received eight Emmy nominations this year, and she feels the nominations have to do with the show helping people in recent months.
“I’m going to be real. I think the pandemic, being quarantined during a period when our humanity was questioned, in a more front-facing way, definitely helped,” she said during the interview, which was published earlier this month. “We came on during a time when people were bored at home, and also there were racial uprisings, and our show served as a comfort.”
But Rae said she was worried that “Insecure” might be shifting focus away from protests, something she had no desire to do.
“I felt a huge guilt in coming out during the protests because there were just so many more important things happening. I didn’t want to take full focus away from that,” she explained. “But to hear people be like, ‘No, this is an escape. It brings us back to Black people being joyous and happy and ourselves, our natural state,’ really felt like we were meant to air during this time. I think that for sure helped people to see our show in a different light.”
The 72nd Emmy Awards is set for Sept. 20, and will air on ABC. Among “Insecure’s” eight nominations, Rae is up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
“Insecure” is also up for Outstanding Comedy Series and if it takes home the trophy, Rae will be the first Black female creator of a major cable show to win the category.
During her interview, she said that season five of the series was supposed to start shooting in September, but the date keeps changing because of COVID-19. However, when season five does air, viewers won’t hear the virus being talked about on the show.
“I don’t want to mention COVID or the pandemic in any way, shape or form,” Rae explained. “We are addressing the fact that the city is going to be different, and part of the way that we’re talking about it is putting people with masks in the background or subtle things like the business being impacted because we’re so location-specific.”
In June, Rae acknowledged “Insecure’s” eight Emmy nominations on Instagram and wrote, “Proud to see so many of my heroes and peers (peer-oes?) acknowledged! Much love to my @insecurehbo.”
Rae is also an executive producer on HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” which received three Emmy nods.