Where Is Lawrence on ‘Insecure’ Season 3? Details on Jay Ellis’ Absence

Justina Mintz/courtesy of HBO

HBO’s hit series Insecure returned for Season 3 on Sunday night with one character noticeably absent from the mix — Jay Ellis‘ Lawrence.

One of Issa Dee’s (Issa Rae) main men, Lawrence became a fan favorite over the course of the first two seasons. Despite their friendship status at the end of Season 2, Ellis’ character isn’t appearing in the show this year. Lawrence’s absence makes the show’s return quite difficult for some, and it isn’t likely to get any easier.

In an interview with Variety, showrunner Prentice Penny revealed the reasoning behind this decision to go Lawrence-less. “We never wanted people to get comfortable,” he told Variety. “We always wanted each season to feel very different from the previous in different ways, so how do we grow and mature as writers but still keep the show feeling the way it feels?”

Well, according to the EP, that means avoiding mistakes that characters have made in the past and navigating new waters. “You don’t want them to make the same mistakes they were continuing to make,” Penny said. “[Issa] can’t keep doing what she’s doing and be unaware of the consequences. That resonated and affected how we made decisions for all of the characters.”

Issa Rae and Jay Ellis in Insecure Season 2.

When asked to remark specifically on Lawrence, Penny’s answer was simple and to the point — there was just no story for him that made sense. “As we got into the writers’ room and started talking about, ‘Well, what is he doing?’ It was hard to tether him because so much of his life is based on Issa.

“So we knew we wanted to see more of Daniel, because that’s who she’s living with, and we still wanted to see a lot of Issa and Molly, and we were like, ‘Well, we only have 28 minutes to tell the show’ and we can’t really do a Lawrence work story because that doesn’t have anything to do with Issa or our world.”

“So for us in the room, it was hard to force him into a story,” Penny continued. “Once we said, ‘Maybe he’s not in the season,’ it kind of became, ‘Whoa, wow, what does that mean then?’ Once that domino dropped, it just opened us up in so many other ways of how we tell stories.”

Based on Penny’s remarks, it sounds as if removing Lawrence allowed them to tell different stories they’d yet to explore, which fits with the theme of the season. Despite fan backlash, Insecure‘s showrunner is hoping that fans can look past this, and see the episodes for how they’re intended.

“To be honest, to me, all the Lawrence stuff, when people are like, ‘Your show’s going to suck!’ I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t know if we’ve gained people’s trust yet.'” But Penny assures fans that Season 3 is worth giving a chance.

“We write the show — we love the show — so we’re not trying to destroy the fabric of Insecure. We have information about where it’s going that other people are not privy to. I love that people love the show, and I love the petitions, but I hope that people trust us when we say, ‘Hey, you guys are going to love the season.’ I think we’ve done [well] so far, but if we could just get that loan on credit, I would really appreciate it.”

Insecure, Sundays, 10:30/9:30c, HBO