White: Definitely. Part of the problem is that what made Darling such an innovative character in the 1980s isn’t what makes her so compelling now. And I fully agree with you, Adrienne: The moments where we see Darling undergoing the most growth and becoming most self-aware are all related to women. In addition to Opal, and her therapist, I’d add her boss, Raqueletta Moss to the mix.
Serwer: To go off your points about Insecure, Gillian and Adrienne, one of Spike’s issues here is that the artists he helped influence are actually better at this now than he is. Which is what’s supposed to happen! Even if it’s not something Spike would like to hear.
White: I think that’s exactly right.
Serwer: I found myself most roped in when the show was lingering on Darling and her issues in the art world (the satire of which is funny and brutal), and less so when it was focusing on the love triangle (rectangle?) the original film was centered on. Of her suitors, I found Mars Blackmon the most likable and relatable, in part because he feels like the underdog in a situation that involves a wealthy Wall Street type and a French-speaking model. Also, Anthony Ramos is really good at inhabiting the character.
White: I was scared about how the character of Mars (originally played by Lee) would translate, but in the end he was one of the highlights of the show and unquestionably the male suitor who was best folded into the present day. Ramos did such a fantastic job of keeping Mars’s spirit of absurdity and geekiness while making him feel fresh and original. As for the other suitors, I found Greer and Jamie difficult to stomach—and not just because they’re supposed to be obnoxious. Both characters seem to be relics of the 1980s in dress, in attitude, and in their assumptions about their place in society, and Darling’s.
In a world where talking, hanging out, and hooking up are all far more common in your early 20s (especially in big cities), the idea that Greer and Jamie would spend so much of their time inquiring about the other men Darling is dating feels a little unbelievable. Also the types of men that Jamie and Greer are meant to portray—generalized archetypes of a desirable guy—don’t even work for the present moment. Jamie’s stuffy, wealthy, older, finance-dad vibe, and certainly Greer’s light-skinned, light-eyed, cultured, model vibe went out of style in the ’90s, and they should’ve been left there.
Serwer: Greer and Jamie are really insufferable, and more than Mars, they’re stereotypes: The first suitor is a project kid-gone-Wall Street who still has ties to the drug game (slash a cheating husband in a midlife crisis). The second is a tragic mulatto who literally has a line about how he doesn’t want to choose between one identity or the other. That stuff was played out when I was a teenager. I wonder, Gillian, if the characters simply weren’t rescuable from the time and place they were created (and maybe Mars was, in part because if anything, black geeks are more visible in pop culture now than they used to be). Also light-skinned men are definitely not out of style, shout out to my Blewish brother Drake (or is he canceled? I’m old and can’t keep track).