This morning HBO announced it was renewing two of its hit comedy series Insecure and Ballers for additional seasons. The two shows are currently in their third and fourth seasons respectively and anchor the cable network's Sunday night, airing back-to-back.
Over the past three seasons Issa Rae's comedy about navigating adulthood and romance in Los Angeles has seen her character end a long-term relationship and face the serious financial difficulties that came along with it, as well as struggle with fitting in at her job at a non-profit. Ballers' also takes place in Los Angeles this year as Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) deal with their relocation from Miami after the risky acquisition of a surf network and management company run by the mercurial Lance (Russell Brand).
If any fans were worried either of these hit shows might face cancellation, they can stop - Insecure and Ballers are officially the books for fourth and fifth seasons. Created by Larry Wilmore (The Daily Show) and Issa Rae, Insecure is partially based on Rae's award-winning web series Awkward Black Girl, and the comedy's success put its creator and star on the map as part of an ever-growing group of black women on television in leading roles. Ballers has steadily increased in popularity since its premiere in 2015 and for the past two seasons has had its renewal announced as the show aired current episodes.
While both shows are vastly different when it comes to narrative content, they share the common ground of being led by characters constantly fighting their own, often significant foibles. Insecure's found success by reveling in Issa's struggle to balance her own desires with responsible choices, as well as exhibiting that those problems aren't relegated to people who lack material success. Her best friend, well-off lawyer Molly (Yvonne Orji) deals with the same issues, albeit with a shinier backdrop. Similarly, Ballers' Spencer Strasmore wrestles with his own freewheeling ambition and the responsibility he has to maintain the success of his employees and clients.
Another plus about Ballers getting a fifth season is that it's been allowed to grow out of the early comparisons to Entourage that surrounded it, While it still features the extravagant lifestyles and boneheaded mistakes that were part of Entourage's charm, Ballers has also proven itself more than capable of tackling sensitive issues like mental health, addiction and the realities of how poorly prepared many athletes are to manage success once they have it. John David Washington quietly became the soul of the show during its third season as he showcased Ricky Jarret's reconnection with his father (Robert Wisdom) and his subsequent acceptance of a bipolar diagnosis. Though with Washington's recent successful turn in The Black Klansman, and Dwayne Johnson's constantly busy schedule it may be that the success of its cast members is what will eventually lead to the end of Ballers.