TV shows

Awkward is the new sexy on HBO show ‘Insecure’

Issa Rae’s show is based on her experiences as a modern-day black woman trying to get the best deal out of life and love.

There is a trend of semi-autobiographical comedies on television. These are self-deprecating stories that raise questions about identity, careers, love or relationships, friendship and the eventual “What is it all about?” Some of the more successful ones include Louis CK’s Louie, Pamela Adlon’s Better Things, Lena Dunham’s Girls, and Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. Issa Rae’s television series Insecure is semi-autobiographical too, but it is different. It is also inspiring, brilliant and honestly, essential.

Issa Rae started to make YouTube videos in college in 2007. One video led to another and she created the popular web series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl in 2011. The series was followed by a memoir by the same name and now finally, a premium network show.

Co-created for HBO by Larry Wilmore, Insecure chronicles the awkward experiences of a modern-day black woman. The show follows two friends, Issa and Molly, living in South Los Angeles and trying to get the best deal in love, life, and career.

The format isn’t a laugh-a-minute, and the humour is subtle. But it is incisive, and makes fresh observations about popular subjects such as sexuality, racism, career, relationships, and friendship. Insecure is not an extension of the YouTube videos, but an independent and more profound conversation taking place through comedy.

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‘Insecure’.

Issa (played by Rae) works at a non-profit (unfortunately named We Got Y’all) for inner-city kids. As the only black woman in a room full of white people, she agonises over with how little they understand and how much they assume. She lives with her longtime slacker boyfriend Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and is dissatisfied in her relationship, both emotionally and physically.

The opening scene of the first episode finds her at the receiving end of some very incisive questions posed by a group of adolescents. They go from “Why you talk like a white person?” “Are you single?” “What’s up with your hair?” to, importantly, “Why aren’t you married?”

A teenager bluntly tells Issa, “My dad says ain’t nobody checking for bitter-assed black women anymore.” Issa earnestly replies that black women aren’t bitter, they are just tired of being expected to settle for less. Through this short hilarious sequence, Rae highlights the struggles Issa is dealing with and trying to break away from. She has a list of what ifs she processes through internal monologues. Or more accurately that she raps about – notebook in hand, performing for herself in front of the mirror.

Her best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), is managing a set of completely different problems. She is a successful legal associate at a mostly white firm, and knows how to adapt to the crowd she is with. Everybody loves her. But she is still expected to be the translator whena summer intern’s loud and aggressive demeanor starts to make the partners uncomfortable. Her love life is not as much of a success though. An expert in dating apps, she finds herself single as she gets clingy as soon as three dates later.

Insecure is in complete contrast with the other Golden Globe winning comedy on the HBO network. Girls is crowded with white millennials consistently failing at life. Issa and Molly have proper jobs, proper apartments, and sane working relationships for the most part. They are confident women who are hoping for and working towards the best to happen. They may not always know how to get there, but they aren’t slacking.

Unlike Shonda Rhime’s overachieving, powerful, flawless superwomen in shows like Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, Insecure dares to depict real, raw and honest women living the basic life. Insecure is about women with identities as diverse and ever-changing as make-up – depicted in a beautifully shot sequence in which Issa tries on a whole spectrum of lipsticks when getting ready for a night out. With each new shade, she acts out different personas in front of her trusty mirror. In the end, she steps out with clear lip balm on her lips.

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Issa Rae on ‘Insecure’.
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Understanding the engineering behind race cars

Every little element in these machines is designed to achieve power and speed.

All racing cars including stock, rally or Formula 1 cars are specially built to push the limits of achievable speed. F1 cars can accelerate to 90 km/h in less than two seconds and touch top speeds of over 320 km/h. Stock cars also typically achieve over 300 km/h. So what makes these cars go so fast? A powerful engine is combined with several other components that are relentlessly optimized to contribute to the vehicle’s speed. All these components can be grouped under four crucial elements:

Aerodynamics 

The fastest cars are the most aerodynamic. A sleek, streamlined design is a head-turner, but its primary function is to limit wind resistance against the vehicle. If a car is built to cut through the wind rather than push against it, it will travel faster and also use less fuel in the process. To further improve the aerodynamic quality of the car, everything from the wheel arcs and lights to the door handles and side mirrors are integrated into the overall structure to reduce the drag - the friction and resistance of the wind. For some varieties of race cars, automobile designers also reduce the shape and size of the car rear by designing the back of the car so that it tapers. This design innovation is called a lift-back or Kammback. Since aerodynamics is crucial to the speed of cars, many sports cars are even tested in wind tunnels

Power

All race car engines are designed to provide more horsepower to the car and propel it further, faster. The engines are designed with carburetors to allow more air and fuel to flow into them. Many sports and racing cars also have a dual-shift gear system that allows drivers to change gears faster. The shift time—or the brief time interval between gear changes when power delivery is momentarily interrupted—can be as little as 8 milliseconds with this gear system. Faster gear shifts enable the car to travel at their fastest possible speeds in shorter times.

Control

The ability to turn corners at higher speeds is crucial while racing and racing cars are often designed so that their floors are flat to maximize the downforce. Downforce is a downwards thrust that is created in a vehicle when it is in motion. This force exerts more pressure on the tyres increasing their grip on the road, and thereby enabling the car to travel faster through corners. The downforce can be so strong that at around 175 km/h, even if the road surface were turned upside down, the car would stick to the surface. Many racing cars like the Volkswagen Polo R WRC are even equipped with a large rear wing that helps generate extra downforce.

Weight

The total weight of the car and its distribution is a critical part of race car design. All race cars are made of durable but extremely light material that reduces the weight of the vehicle. Every part of the vehicle is evaluated and components that are not strictly required in the race car—such as trunks or back seats—are eliminated. The weight distribution in these cars is carefully calibrated since at high speeds it proves crucial to car control. As a result, almost all racing cars have an RMR configuration or a Rear Mid-engine, Rear-wheel-drive layout where the engine is situated at around the middle of the car (but closer to the rear than the front), just behind the passenger compartment. This layout where the car is a little heavier towards the rear than the front allows for better control of the car at high speeds.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Volkswagen and not by the Scroll editorial team.