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There’s a Reason I Still Think About ‘Asian Bae’ 3 Years Later

Andrew takes Molly on a vacation in season 4 of Issa Rae's "Insecure."

Recently, while talking to a friend, we got to talking about TV shows and wishing there were more examples of positive, realistic interracial relationships. When we started talking about the lack of representation between Black and Asian partners specifically, I had a lightbulb moment that immediately brought me back to a truly fantastic moment in TV: When Molly (Yvonne Orji) started dating Andrew (Alexander Hodge) in HBO’s Insecure.

Molly meets Andrew in season 3, when they’re acquainted through Issa’s (Issa Rae) new boo, Nathan (Kendrick Sampson). Andrew is instantly into Molly, but up until this point, Molly’s only really been looking to date other Black people. However, a spark is there, and Andrew is determined to at least take her out for a date.

Guys … this man’s charisma, omg:

Yes, the ‘Blaccent’ is a little cringe, but this script was largely written by Black women, so it’s clear they had something in mind with Andrew’s character in particular. And judging from all the hype that “Asian Bae” got while the show was airing, they really, truly nailed what they were going for.

At the point we meet Andrew, we’re already hurting for Molly and frustrated with her because of all her relationship ups and downs. Molly as a character has a tendency to push people away while also holding them to standards they can seldom meet. When she meets Andrew, she’s still trying to take a break from dating. More than that, they get to know each other at the infamous “Coachella Episode,” which—while hilarious for us viewers—is a mortifying ordeal for every character involved.

Especially poor Kelli.

However, Andrew is an incredibly charming man, as well as a seemingly open one, as he still wants to get to know Molly and be a part of her life. So, that’s what happens.

And it’s not perfect—far from it. They have a lot of communication issues from the get-go. Molly’s so used to being hurt that she often assumes the worst from Andrew, and Andrew is so used to treating relationships casually that he assumes boundaries that were never set in the first place. But what had many of us rooting for this couple so much in the first place was that, for the first time, Molly is growing in a relationship with someone who is at least willing to try to meet her on equal footing.

Ultimately, the relationship can’t last, and I’m someone who thinks that’s a good thing. Molly needs someone who can match her energy, and Andrew needs someone who can give him more clemency. At times, Molly can be unduly demanding of Andrew. At times, Andrew is dismissive of Molly, but overall, they grow a lot in this relationship, even if it’s not meant to be forever. It’s a very realistic portrayal of the kind of relationship that ends up being a lesson more than anything else.

Something I especially love about this relationship is how their racial differences both do and don’t play a role in their ups and downs. Molly doesn’t suddenly find more comfort in this relationship because Andrew isn’t Black; she finds more comfort in it because Andrew is Andrew. On Andrew’s side, he doesn’t pursue Molly just because she’s Black; he pursues her because she’s Molly, and he wants to be with her. The only moment their racial differences become a problem in their relationship is when Molly meets Andrew’s brother, who says some truly ignorant and hurtful things to her, and the situation starts to escalate:

This is a pretty realistic, brilliantly written portrayal of tensions that can arise between Black and Asian people, and if Insecure was going to highlight these tensions at all, I’m glad it went this route. It could have done something a lot more stereotypical and tropey, but instead, the writers honed in on the very real tensions that exist between these communities, encapsulated in this highly frustrating moment that Molly shouldn’t have to be put in.

Understandably, this sticks with Molly long after, and although Andrew tries to be helpful, he still fails to see how reasonable it is that Molly wants nothing to do with his brother after the fact. This, on top of their differing expectations and constant fights (as referenced earlier), ultimately leads to him asking her if this is really what they both want. Thus, things end between them.

But just because their story doesn’t have a fairytale ending doesn’t mean it was a failed attempt—both for the characters and for the show. Molly and Andrew proved that you can write interracial relationships in ways that aren’t ridiculous and unrealistic, which, in turn, can help reduce some stigma that is (unfortunately) very well and alive today. Their relationship is this great, messy, and ultimately valuable learning experience, and even though I also wished they could have made it work, in the end I’m just glad we (and the characters, of course) got it at all.

Andrew may not have been The One, but he’ll still be Asian Bae in my heart.

(featured image: HBO)

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Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).