When it comes to navigating the hurdles of modern romance, HBO’s Insecure aptly highlights some of our greatest struggles in a way that is both hilariously relatable and poignant. The latest season quickly brought eager fans into the thick of things with an episode that focused on the difficulty of creating healthy boundaries—especially when the relationship in question is hella messy. Yes, we’re talking about Molly and Dro.
The scene brought up a lot of questions about open relationships and polyamory and how participants respect other people’s limits in non-monogamy. So, like, wtf Dro? What’s with the sudden shift in energy?
“I think, one, because this had never come up. So to him, he felt like it came out of nowhere in his mind,” Jackson tells me. “I think sometimes people don't consciously know that they're not respecting people's boundaries when they do agree [on doing something], sometimes you just fall into a routine.” He continues, “I know people react in certain ways, but I feel like everyone wants an explanation for something. You know what I mean? And he wasn't even really trippin', he was like, ‘Oh, where's all this coming from?’ She was kind of having that funny energy, so that's what caused him to go back and forth. People hit a threshold and say what they feel.”
While Dro and Molly’s situation may be new in the world of Insecure, the concept of open relationships continues to become more prevalent in society. For this reason, Jackson offers his personal advice to those who are in a real-life Molly and Dro situation. “There has to be boundaries and parameters. That should be set from the get. I don't think you should be winging it, especially if it’s someone you have a connection with,” he tells me. “There should be a certain boundary set from the beginning, and be very, very clear with communication from the beginning. Very clear.”
People don't consciously know that they're not respecting people's boundaries, sometimes you just fall into a routine.
Well, let’s just sip on that tea for now and move on to another critical theme of this season. Co-creator and Golden Globe nominee Issa Rae revealed earlier this summer that the new season of Insecure would focus on toxic masculinity, specifically for black men. As an African-Panamanian man, Jackson is no stranger to the detriments of toxic masculinity for men of color, and feels the show’s commitment to creating this dialogue is crucial.
“With the climate that we're in right now—especially black men, you have to be the strongest one, the most athletic one. You have to run the best, and jump the highest. All the way back from the slave days, which is also what I think goes into effect when I see police officers treating black men a certain way, versus the white man, because there is this rooted thought of, ‘Oh, we're more aggressive and the tougher one,’ and so they handle it as such. We're taught things like that. You're not supposed to cry or really be emotional and show your feelings,” he shares with me.
“If you’re showing emotions then you're called gay, and that's something that some straight men have an issue with, and it could also make it uncomfortable for someone who hasn't come out yet. It’s like, ‘Damn, is that a negative thing?’”
“All that is rooted in toxic masculinity. The ego, it makes us so fragile. That's why all these problems spark up, these fights over dumb shit, or not handling rejection well, or the ownership or entitlement. So to touch on it, we either show how ridiculous it looks or how it affects people in a negative way.”
Luckily, Jackson doesn’t feel as though toxic masculinity has played too big of a role in his personal life, mainly because of his upbringing. “My pops was a corrections officer for over 30 years, and he never shamed me for crying. If I was watching a movie or something was touching, he never shamed me for showing my emotions.”
I'm always in my feelings. I'm never ashamed. I'm a grown man, and I cry at movies. I was watching Wall-E like two weeks ago, I cried on that shit.
(Moment to celebrate that statement. Okay, let’s continue.)
“I'm always in my feelings. I'm never ashamed. I'm a grown man, and I cry at movies. I was watching Wall-E like two weeks ago, I cried on that shit. I remember last year, I was with friends in Philly, and we went to go see Coco. I was boo-hooing in that. I’m never ashamed to show anything like that. To use my platform and not be ashamed or be very comfortable with my sexuality and with myself is a way that I've combatted that toxic masculinity because that's just not needed.”
So what can women do to help push these negative societal pressures out the window? “I think women are doing it right now with just making more people aware. Like damn, when the #MeToo movement started, I didn’t realize it was like this. This is a change that is absolutely needed.”
Jackson also encourages women to let go of the idea that they might come off a certain way by speaking their mind when men make them feel uncomfortable, because it’s time to voice what is no longer acceptable.
“Fuck that. If something's making you uncomfortable, that's just making you uncomfortable. You gotta say that shit, because there are a lot of men out here actin' like this because it's been so normalized in our society. There's such a shift in how we're acting as culture, we're calling out this shit that's happening, people are getting fired, people are getting dragged, and rightfully so.”