Issa Rae on ‘Insecure’ finale, alternate endings, choosing happiness

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Issa Rae breaks down moments from the “, including Molly and Issa’s heart to heart and why — after considering alternate endings — she decided to let her character choose happiness. Plus, Rae details her regrets about turning South L.A. into a Hollywood landmark, when she learned what not to share publicly, and how the success of “Insecure” has changed her meetings with studio execs.

Yvonne Villarreal: Hi! I’m Yvonne Villarreal.

Mark Olsen: And I’m Mark Olsen, and you’re listening to “The Envelope,” the L.A. Times podcast where we talk to top talent in TV and film.

Villarreal: Mark, I have to say that today’s episode is really bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I’m thrilled to have had a chance to speak to Issa Rae fresh off the heels of the “Insecure” finale and ask her all my burning questions about alternate endings and surprise moments. But I’m so sad because I can’t believe it’s really over.

Olsen: You know, it’s funny. I’m not as dedicated a watcher as you are, but every week when there’s a new episode, my Twitter feed just goes nuts, and I immediately follow along with the conversations where I feel like I sort of know something about the show. I know that I believe I’m not supposed to like Lawrence, and that I’m very upset with him for the way that he behaved at the going away party. And I mean, the show, it feels like it’s not only just a cultural phenomenon, but these feel like characters that have become like friends for people.

Villarreal: No, totally. And first, let me just say, if you have those feelings about Lawrence now you need to watch the finale. And for those that haven’t, this episode of the podcast has some spoilers, so go watch the finale and bookmark this conversation for later. But yes, to your point, the conversation around the show was such a fundamental part of the experience of it. And I don’t think it’s an understatement to say the show leaves behind a legacy with its bold and authentic storytelling of flawed characters and the sometimes frustrating subtleties of adulthood. We all sort of watched this character grow up and become this self-fulfilled woman with career ambitions and meaningful relationships, messy relationships. So to kick off this conversation, I asked Issa about what it felt like to say goodbye to Issa Dee.

Issa Rae: In some ways, I feel like I’m not saying goodbye because she’s so much of me, especially with this last season. We have merged in so many ways. But beyond that, like her friends and her world and her love life was really just fun to play out, and a lot of the decisions that she made, however messy, I got to play out in the stories that we got to tell. And in my own life, I tend to be a bit more reserved with my choices. I love chaos, but I don’t get to act on that chaos a lot. And so I will miss that part.

[Clip from “Insecure”: ISSA: That’s incredible! Ya’ll are incredible. MOLLY: Tonight we only focusing on you having fun and nothing else! ISSA: Look at your quoting my quotes! MOLLY: One time for the birthday bitch! ALL: Aye!]

Yvonne Villarreal: Well, there’s so much to talk about with that finale. But first, I have to ask, how did you land on using birthdays as the device to sort of structure the episode?

Rae: I was really excited in coming up with that, just thinking about how we wanted to shift time and obviously thinking about the pilot episode. We’re introduced to Issa on her 29th birthday, and this season in particular is about growth. So to be able to showcase that through this device was exciting to me, in addition to just tapping into my own personal life and my friendships. As we’ve grown older, you know, our friends from high school, and almost the only guarantee that we will kick it is on each other’s birthdays. And there’s a sadness surrounding that. It’s just like, damn, we used to just congregate at any moment, any Friday. Like that was guaranteed. And then you’re kind of relegated to, “Well, I got your birthday, girl. You know imma show up for that.” And so watching Issa and Molly’s friendship kind of play out through that had a sad kind of tragedy that I wanted to explore.

[Clip from “Insecure”: ISSA: Hello? MOLLY: Happy birthday! Bitch I miss you so fucking much! ISSA: Bitch, me too!]

Villarreal: What went into the decision to end with that phone call between Molly and Issa, instead of, say, Issa and Lawrence or something?

Rae: I mean, we’ve said it from jump. This is a story about Issa and Molly. It’s their love story, and is Issa’s most important relationship. We have seen that relationship go through so many ups and downs and watched them be codependent, watched them rely on each other, watched them grow each other. And I think Issa and Molly have helped each other to become the women that they are. They have seen each other through so much. And so, that call from Molly on Issa’s birthday is the call that she’s been looking forward to. Yes, Lawrence has finally made birthday plans, but Molly calling Issa on her birthday and hearing from her is the best present.

Villarreal: One moment that really got to me, especially considering the sort of ups and downs of their relationship is obviously when Issa is helping Molly with her wedding dress and Molly sort of turns to her and says, “Thank you…”

[Clip from “Insecure”: MOLLY: Thank you so much for everything Issa. ISSA: Of course! There was no way you were gonna get outta that dress by yourself MOLLY: Nah girl, for everything. Just for being you, for loving me while I was me.]

Villarreal: How did you decide where and when they would share that moment?

Rae: That was something that we decided from the beginning of breaking this season. Like that was a scene that I visualized in my mind from jump as a way to end the series. That was like the only constant because there is just something about ending the series on that declaration from Molly and showing how much Issa has evolved as a friend to Molly. I think that’s something that we’ve watched this season is why they are good friends for each other. Molly has been through so much and so much of her has wanted this picturesque wedding, to settle down with her husband, but to have her friend by her side and to see her through that when it almost didn’t happen means so much to her. That was such a touching moment to shoot.

[Clip from “Insecure”: MOLLY: and girl I don’t know where life is gonna take us, but I do know, as long as you’re around I know I’m gonna be OK.]

Villarreal: Well, now that we’ve talked about the real love story of this series, let’s talk about Issa and Lawrence. I have to tell you, I really did want them to get back together, but I also realize that they weren’t good for each other up until that point. Like, were you conflicted about having them get back together?

Rae: Hell yes, I was conflicted. I didn’t want them back together at the beginning of the season, to be honest. You know, it goes back to when Season 4, Episode 8 aired. I was thrilled that people loved, but I had this, oh my God … at the pit of my stomach, I was like, “Oh my God, people are so happy for them and they have no idea what’s coming. We’re about to devastate them.”

[Clip from “Insecure”: ISSA: Like with this new thing I’m working on. It’s me creating happiness for myself I think. LAWRENCE: I like you like this. ISSA: Like what? LAWRENCE: Like this. It’s new! Keep it up it’s a good look. ISSA: OK, alright. Enough.]

Rae: I didn’t realize how excited people would be to see Issa and Lawrence reunite. And even me. I was like, “Oh man, this did end up being a really beautiful episode.”

Villarreal: Thank you, Natasha Rothwell.

Rae: And so I was like, he got a baby. Absolutely not. And thinking about my own feelings and putting myself in her shoes and being protective of her, I thought she made the right decision. I still stand by the fact that she made the right decision to break up with him.

[Clip from “Insecure”: LAWRENCE: I just had to tell you. ISSA: So this means you’re getting back with her? LAWRENCE: No! No. I told you! I want to be with you. ISSA: But you’re having a baby with someone else! LAWRENCE: But I didn’t plan this Issa! I don’t — I don’t want this to happen.]

Rae: And you know, we had different endings in mind. And as the season progressed and I became Issa Dee — you know, it’s one thing to write for her and then to become her — I found myself missing him. And I found that, in a sense, we were denying Issa her happiness. One of our writers, Laura Kittrell, was just like, with that episode we basically said that they’re soulmates, and to deny Issa her soulmate is, in a sense, denying her her happiness. I think they needed that time to grow apart. Lawrence for sure needed that time to reconcile his relationship with Condola and to see the blessing that Elijah was in his life and to grow on his own. And I think separately, as they had done before, they became ready for one another. I think so much of the themes of the last couple of seasons have been that happiness is a choice, and Issa daring to be happy with Lawrence felt fitting to me. But it was a journey. We both went on journeys.

[Clip from “Insecure”: LAWRENCE: Happy birthday. ISSA: Thank you. Hey Jah! LAWRENCE: He wanted to decorate. That right there says “Issa.” ISSA: Does it? LAWRENCE: It could. ISSA: Thanks, Jah!]

Villarreal: Was there the scenario where she ends up with Nathan?

Rae: There was a scenario where she ended up with Nathan, and there was a scenario where she came home and you heard a voice, but you didn’t know who it was.

Villarreal That would have killed me, not knowing. I would have been like, “No! I need to know!”

Rea: Yeah.

Villarreal: Well, as someone who spends the moments after each episode curled up with the Twitter comments about it, people have intense feelings about their relationship, as I’m sure you know all too well. Has it surprised you how strongly people feel about this dynamic?

Rae: I mean, yeah. It surprises me, but it doesn’t surprise me. People project so much of their own feelings onto these characters, which is part of what makes the show what it is. Prentice and I and the writers had discussed at length how much we know people are going to have so much to say about Issa’s decisions, and they always have. But at the end of the day, if you want what’s best for these characters, these characters have chosen what’s best for themselves, and you can only be happy for them.

Villarreal: Well, to get back to your point about Issa choosing to be happy and daring to be happy, her ending is really hopeful. She’s experiencing success in her career, her friendships, her love life. She’s feeling better about her self-worth. What was the thought process with deciding how Issa’s arc ends?

Rae: This was always a series about a girl who’s trying to figure out who she is and where she’s going. And Prentice and I always discussed that this would be a journey of being secure in your insecurities and comfortable with not knowing what’s going to happen, comfortable with the uncomfortable. I think Issa has reached that point. Some of the literal circumstances may be the same, but she has evolved so much, and that’s where I wanted her to end up.

[Clip from “Insecure”: ISSA: I keep thinking about all it took to get here. You know? Doubting myself, going back and forth about what I want, being scared to waste my time and look stupid in case none of it worked out. And then I realized that it was all in my head. You know, no one was doubting me except for me.]

Villarreal: Well, speaking from experience, as someone who puts a lot of thought and attention when I’m writing a piece — particularly one I really care about — I agonize over the flow of it and how I’m ending it. And once it’s published, I still think about it, and I think to myself, “Man, I really should have found a way to work this in” or “I wish I thought to include this.” Was there anything that you wish could have made it into the finale that didn’t?

Rae: In the penultimate, one thing that I kicked myself over — you mentioned Natasha Rothwell, who is brilliant, and so is Neil Brown Jr. — and we had a setting with Kelly and Chad in the same room. We recorded something, but it didn’t fit. But to be able to not have a moment with the two of them is something that I will be kicking myself over for a while.

Villarreal: Well, looking back on the last decade or so, that line when Issa says, “I just want to fast forward to the part of my life where everything is OK,” I mean, that felt like it came straight out of my internal monologue. But is that a thought you had often back then or even still now? Like, how much are you literally seeing yourself and talking to yourself in a scene like that?

Rae: Absolutely had that thought back then. As a matter of fact, that is my line. I recall saying that in my college days, in my New York days, very broke New York days, trying to figure things out with things going wrong and just being like, “My God, can I just fast forward to the part where everything’s cool and I know what I’m doing?” I haven’t had that thought in a very long time, but I definitely, you know, still pore over decisions that I’m making and think about the outcomes and consequences of the things that I’m doing. And like I said, sometimes that comes from a place of fear and comes from a place of a reservation where I don’t necessarily want to be. Sometimes I want to make the dumb decision and see where that takes me. But, that feeling that you’re running out of time and that you can’t afford to make these mistakes or can’t afford to take these particular detours increases as you get older unless you go through a mid-life crisis and you’re like, “Fuck it,” but I haven’t reached that point yet.

Villarreal: I think I’ve reached that point. I mean, you’ve come a long way. It goes without saying, since the “Awkward Black Girl” web series days. How would you describe what it’s been like navigating your rise?

Rae: I mean, people tend to mythologize my journey, and I think up until recently I was so in it that I didn’t really realize how long it’s been, how far it’s been. But yeah, this 10-year anniversary of “Awkward Black Girl” and thinking about even … I’m working on a new show called “Rap Shit” with this showrunner who came from “Insecure.” But before “Insecure,” we worked on one of our very first pilots. And, you know, we were having a conversation on set and she was just kind of reliving her assistant days of just like, “Oh my gosh. The hole punch. Like why don’t people hole punch the scripts in this way? Like I remember, we had to hand hole punch.” And I was like, “What the fuck?” I was just like, “Damn, you’re showrunning this show now, and you were just hole punching our scripts five to six years ago.” I guess through her, it just dawned on me, you know how far we’ve kind of all come, and then it forced me to take a step back and just be like, “Oh man.” Like, I remember when I was doing this and wasn’t sure what my path was going to be or how this was going to end up. I remember walking a couple of blocks down while we were shooting the pilot after hers and getting the phone call from HBO that they weren’t going to move forward on the script that Larry [Wilmore] and I had submitted. And that was the last opportunity for him to still be a part of it. And just, you know, like getting that phone call, walking off set to the side of the road and just crying like, “What the fuck am I going to do? I’ve spent all of my money on these pilots. I put all my eggs into this HBO show basket, and I’m going to lose this showrunner. What am I going to do? Are they ever going to pick up this show?” You know, everything ended up working out, but those moments are so scary to think of like, there was one point where I didn’t know that this was going to be possible, and now it is.

Villarreal: Was it hard to not give up on the possibility of this?

Rae: I don’t know that giving up was an option for me because I felt like I did have traction. I was like, “Come on.” So I would try to find another capacity, but I don’t know that I thought about completely giving up. But I definitely was frustrated and was for sure out of money and was thinking about what my options were.

Villarreal: What did your parents say?

Rae: I actually called my dad, which I don’t know why I would call him, because he is Mr. There’s Always School, you know? I think maybe I wanted to hear that too, to jumpstart the idea that I did not need to give up or to know that there was an alternate path. I don’t know but he was very much … not dry, but dry. Like, “It’s OK. It’s fine.” And I was like, “I don’t even know why I called you. OK, let me go back to set and just figure it out.”

Villarreal: Well, I’m sure it didn’t feel like it to you at the time, but it’s almost like you did press fast forward. Was it hard navigating the celebrity aspect of it all? Like, was there a moment when it hit you that you couldn’t do something like go to the grocery store without someone trying to snap a photo of you?

Rae: Not really. I mean, I can for sure still go to the grocery store and I tend to be aloof, but for the most part, I always describe it as just being popular in high school. Like, that’s what it feels like. It doesn’t feel like Beyoncé, Rihanna level. So everything is very grounded for the most part, and not much has changed.

Villarreal: But your life is much more public now. People are curious about you. And I’ve heard you say that you regret divulging so much about your personal life in your book, which was published before “Insecure” even premiered. Why is that, and what do you regret?

Rae: I’m not really a fully open person, and my mom and my family have always taught me that family business is family business. And I think with that book, I was, treating it like it was kind of journal entries in a way. I think that for me was a learning lesson, and that was hardly being a celebrity by any means, but that book, people read it. And it is also just stuck in a moment of time, and people who read it now assume that that’s still me and not writings from when I was 24 to 27. That bothers me, and until I write something else, I’m frozen in time for people. And I’m not really proud of some of the things that I’ve shared where my family is concerned because that is their business. Even though some of those moments shaped me, I just would not do that again.

Villarreal: Well, how did it sort of inform how you wanted to approach the Issa character on “Insecure” in terms of how much inspiration to take from your life, and what lessons did you learn when applying that to this character?

Rae: I think I was less reticent to tap from my own life to Issa Dee because it’s still fictional at the end of the day and we’re creating these scenarios. We’re also taking from the experiences of a lot of the writers in the room, and we’re telling a story. It’s not seen as autobiographical, so sure I’ll lend this story from my life to Issa Dee, I’ll lend these feelings. It’s not as literal. And so much of what I write is taken from moments of my life, but it’s just the idea that it’s not necessarily attributed to just me that I find solace in.

Villarreal: Do you think you’ll ever have another character named after you?

Rae: No. For what? No, I’m good. I learned a lesson there. That was, as we’ve discussed, by accident. So I’ll just be smarter about character names. Less lazy.

Villarreal: It just makes it hard for me. Like, I feel like you’re wondering when I’m talking about you or the character. I feel like I should say, “Issa Dee, Issa Dee, Issa Dee.”

Rae: What I will say is it’s helped people to pronounce my name correctly, for the most part. Even though I still get people like, “Isa! I love “Insecure,” and I’m like, “OK, sure you do.”

Villarreal: I get people that say, “Yevonne,” so maybe I need to write a show with a character named after me to get people to say it right.

Issa Rae That’s the key.

Issa Rae, Photographed on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Villarreal: Now that you’ve made it and have a seat at the table, what would you say has changed about meetings with Hollywood executives?

Rae: Just more of a willingness to make what I want to make, to buy when I’m pitching. On the down side, I love constructive feedback. I love really smart executives and I have found that the more successful people think you are, the more scared or hesitant they are to criticize your work. And I hope that people that I work with, my creative partners in the future, are never scared to be like, “Hey, this ain’t it,” or “Let’s think about trying to develop this a bit more.” And I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve almost had to beg to be like, “No tell me this is trash, and tell me to do better. I’m happy to.”

Villarreal: You got to keep Prentice on speed dial. I’m sure he will remain that person for you.

Rae: I hope, but he’s busy. He’s got a thousand projects. But yes, I definitely have. I’ve definitely hit him up even for this new show. Like, “Hey, you want to come on board? You want to come direct something real quick?” And he’s like, “I’ve just finished working with you. Please.”

Villarreal: Are you finding that “Insecure” has moved the needle in terms of showing Hollywood executives how valuable these stories are? Like, are you still being advised to add more white characters to the next projects you have going on?

Rae: Definitely not. And yeah, I have seen how it has moved the needle. I’ve seen how it has influenced other studios to greenlight certain projects, and I am proud of that. You know, in the same way that the shows that came before me. I know very well that there is no “Insecure” without Shonda and “Scandal.” I know that possibly there is no “Insecure” without even “Girls.” Stuff like that isn’t lost on me. And so I see how Hollywood almost needs permission to be like, “Did this work out? All right. OK. We can take a chance on this.” But I definitely credit the Shonda movement.

Villarreal: Thank you, Shonda

Rae: Thank you, Shonda.

Villarreal: Well, another part of the show’s legacy that many have reflected on, including our own paper, is the way the show has sort of rehabbed the image of South Los Angeles by really showcasing its beauty and depth. And in the end, Issa is living with Lawrence in a beautiful home in Leimert Park. What did you want to say with that detail?

Rae: I think that was more than just my own dream. Like, that was me putting kind of my own utopia in Issa’s final journey. And yeah, I live where I grew up, and I’m happy to live here. You know, I remember being a kid riding my bike through my neighborhood and being like, “I want to live here when I grow up. I want to come back.” And to be able to do that is such a blessing, it blows my mind. Even now, when I walk past my childhood home like, “This is crazy that I was actually able to do that and manifest that.” And I wanted that for Issa Dee too. We both care about L.A. and our community so much that, to me, my happy ending is her happy ending. Or happy start, I should say.

Villarreal: Happy start. I like that. There’s this sweet moment in the finale where Issa is driving around and seeing all the people and places she used to frequent, and there’s the moment where she drives by the Dunes complex and a dad is taking his daughter’s photo outside. And I remember talking to Prentice ahead of the premiere. We shot him outside the Dunes, and he was saying how they had to stop because fans of the show were parked out there trying to take photos in front of it. Did it cross your mind that something like this would happen when you were scouting locations for the show, that it would bring people out to see the community in this way?

Rae: Absolutely not. That was such a pleasant surprise, that people have made the Dunes like a Hollywood landmark. You know that that was Thug Yoda, by the way, taking a picture of his daughter. We had to send him out properly as well to show that he’s still banging on the block. But, it’s so cool. Like, I actually just went to Trader Joe’s a couple of months ago and the cashier was like, “Girl, you the reason it’s always traffic in front of my street.” And I was like, “What?” She was like, “Yeah, I live by the Dunes.” And I was like, “What? I’m sorry.” And she was like, “Yeah, people stay taking pictures in front of it.” And so I was like, “OK, my bad.” And then I was like, I want to drive to see myself. You know, I get tagged in photos every single day with people taking pictures in front of it, but I wanted to just go drive by myself to see if people were doing it. And sure enough, there were just people outside, and there was low-key a little line of people just gathering and posing in front of the Dunes. And I was like, “Damn poor residents,” and that’s like my own video of them posing. I was looking busted. People were like, “Why didn’t you get out?” And I’m like, “Because I was looking busted” and you know people are going to be like, “Hey, can we get a picture?” Or they were going to be like, “Excuse me. Can you get out of the way so I can take a picture of the Dunes?” So, I didn’t want to risk that. But one day I will go back heavily made up and happen to show up.

Villarreal: But how do you feel about changing the fabric of the community in that way, like, as you said, making Hollywood landmarks out of these spaces and maybe changing them forever?

Rae: If you mean in the sense that it’s on people’s radars in a way that makes it culturally significant to Black people, I’m very proud. If you mean in the sense that now people want to move here and live here that aren’t necessarily made up of the fabrics of this community, then I have regrets. I’ve definitely gotten blamed for the influx of tech bros and Hollywood communities wanting to move here. In that way, I’m like, “Oh, damn. That was not the intention.” I just wanted to showcase how beautiful our neighborhoods are. But I do love that at least the show will be a time capsule of the fact that these were very Black neighborhoods and proud Black neighborhoods.

Villarreal: Yeah. Well, from the beginning of your career, you wore every creative hat. You’re the star, the writer, the creator, the director. In the five years since making this show in the more traditional TV space, is there one thing you miss about the homegrown style of making content?

Rae: Yeah, definitely. The rawness. I still kind of miss that. You know, as much as I do love to collaborate, and I love the process of development, part of me still misses just making stuff and putting it out there and the low expectations of people. You know, the ingenuity of just trying something and seeing how it works. Now, because I have a name, there is a certain standard that’s expected. Sometimes I wish I could erase that. You know, maybe I’ll come up with a pen name or something. I don’t know. But I do miss just being able to create stuff online and put it out there to see what happens.

Villarreal: Well, you’ve mentioned that you’re working on the series with City Girls called “Rap Shit.” What can you tell us about it? Any big updates you can share?

Rae: We just wrapped the show, and I’m just really excited. It’s set in the indie music world and it’s a completely different world, a very different story of still friendship, but trying to make it an industry that doesn’t see it for you. So in some ways, there are parallels to my own journey, but the music world is so different and twisted and crazy, as I’m learning myself.

Villarreal: Did you worry once “Insecure” wrapped whether you would find love again with a show? Like, could you feel the same way about something?

Rae: A little bit. Less when I was writing this show, because I was still shooting “Insecure.” But after wrapping “Insecure” and crying with Yvonne, Jay and Prentice and the crew, I was just like, “Damn, I wonder if I‘ll ever feel like this again.” And it’s just different. You know, I’m not in “Rap Shit.” I’m very, very hands on, but I’m not on camera, and I already see that there’s just a different dynamic. It really excites me to see the actors of that show bonding, and hopefully their experience will be what ours was, and they’ll have a rich experience. But I don’t know what kind of experience I have that comes close to that of “Insecure.” That’s a lesson that I’ve learned. No show is going to be like “Insecure.” I’ll be chasing that feeling, but I know what ingredients make for a positive working experience, and I can at least strive to that.

Villarreal: Yeah. But you also have a five-year overall deal with Warner Media. You have an audio company slash record label, multiple cafes, a hair-care brand. Is it safe to say Issa is building an empire, and is there a goal that unites all of these endeavors?

Issa Rae: That’s an excellent question that I’m going to ask myself in my yearly reflection. Dead serious, that’s something they just yesterday I was like, “What am I doing? Hey girl, what are you doing? What do you want?”

Villarreal: Listen, it’s all I think about with myself on a daily basis. What are you doing?

Issa Rae Yeah, and I think it’s important to ask yourself if you want those things and how badly you want those things from year to year and to be honest with yourself about it. So the answer is I don’t know yet. I’m very much enjoying what I’m doing, but I think thinking about the bigger picture and how long I want to do all of this is really important.

Villarreal: How do you hope people write about or talk about this show in 20 to maybe 30 years? Like, what is a dream quote from someone who revisits your work in say the L.A. Times or something?

Rae: I mean, it’s twofold. I want people to say, “This is my favorite show, and that this show is a part of their favorite memories, and also that I inspired them to create their own show, their own book, inspired them to just write in general. That is cool to me.

Villarreal: I have no doubt that that will happen. But I have to ask, you’re familiar with Hollywood and the obsession with reboots and revivals, is there a world in which you would ever revisit these characters in like 10, 15 years?

Rae: In a reboot form? I don’t think so. I’ve been saying a strong “no” to movies and all that. I love leaving things as they are, as kind of a legacy. But as like a reunion? Without a doubt. I want to see everybody again.

Villarreal: I want a “And Just Like That…” of “Insecure.”

Rae: No you do not. No you do not, Yvonne. Please.

Villarreal: Yes, I do.

Rae: It just ended. You did not want that. And I don’t.

Villarreal: Issa, don’t do this to me. You have to promise me we’ll see them in their fifties, please.

Rae: Bye!

Villarreal: She went silent. I’m going to spend the next decade trying to convince you.

Villarreal: And that’s a wrap on the last “The Envelope” episode of 2021. I’m Yvonne Villarreal.

Olsen: And I’m Mark Olsen. If you’re enjoying the show, don’t forget to follow “The Envelope” wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re there, why don’t you leave us a rating and review?

Villarreal: This episode was produced and edited by Heba Elorbany and Jazmín Aguilera, with production help from Asal Ehsanipour and engineering by Alex Higgins. Our theme music was composed by Mike Heflin. Special thanks to Matt Brennan, Geoff Berkshire, Elena Howe, Shani Hilton, Clint Schaff, Richard Hernandez, Chris Price, Amy Wong and Ross May.

Olsen: We’ll be back next week. See you then.