There are some truly great ensembles on the air at the moment — some represented elsewhere on this list (Preacher), some not (Broadchurch), and some that are pretty much just Tatiana Maslany playing 97 different people (Orphan Black). For my money, however, it’s tough to beat Issa Rae’s Insecure, which features a trio of the most dropped-in, low-key, funny, and heartbreaking performances out there. Better still, the second season of HBO’s thoughtful gem makes a point of opening new circles for Issa (Rae), Molly (the terrific Yvonne Orji), and Lawrence (Jay Ellis), with each character confronting new realities in their personal lives and new territory narratively. After spending a season carefully coaxing its audience into a serious level of investment in these characters and their relationships, we see them scattered, facing down the unknown, whether in the form of a therapist, a series of bad (and unwanted) dates, and the world of casual sex. Now you know us, the series seems to say, so let’s have a Wine Down and really get into the shit.
As good as Rae, Orji, and Ellis are — and they’re real damn good — they also benefit from a terrific supporting cast, each member of which seems molecularly incapable of wasting a second of your time (welcome back, Thug Yoda!). New this season: David Hull, a standout on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (on which he plays the unforgettably named White Josh), as Travis, a guy at Molly’s law firm who is making a hell of a lot more money than she for what seems like no good reason. We can probably expect a lot more heartbreak in Insecure’s sophomore season — the final moments of the episode and the confused, frighteningly hopeful smile on Issa’s face all but guarantee that — but it looks like we can also expect a good, long look at workplace inequity, too. If that sounds dull to you, it’s only because you haven’t started Insecure yet. Do yourself a favor and correct that, right now. –Allison Shoemaker