giants the series

The Issa Rae backed web-drama is a necessary glimpse into survival by any means.

Mid-way through the fourth episode of Giants, the latest web series that resides on Issa Rae’s lauded YouTube channel, an admission takes place. Journee (Vanessa Baden Kelly) in a conversation with her sister Candace (Alesha Renee) and the topic begins to circle from general pleasantries to Journee losing her job for not going to work. “I put my neck out on the line for you and you could’t even try?” Candace asks. Journee responds flatly, “I did try.”

“Trying is showing up,” Candace responds. It’s not before long that Journee begins to plead her case, revealing what was hinted at in Giants‘ very first episode. She’s a manic depressive. Vocalizing that is hard enough and her sister, dealing with her own issues as a mother and homemaker cuts her down at the knees. “It’s an excuse,” she bluntly says.

The back and forth is one of many found in Giants, the James Bland helmed web series. Set in Los Angeles, the six-episode saga follows a trio of friends who are focused to deal with the ins and outs of struggle and survival. Malachi (Bland) is modelesque but works odd jobs left and right in order to support he and Journee. Their friend Ade is an engineering major turned dancer, battling his own issues with his father’s views and staunch beliefs in regards to homosexuality. In a larger concept, the series deals with the complexities of life, of what many battle with on a daily basis. Whether it be unemployment, mental health or mere acceptance.

“[Malachi]’s just as afraid of losing as we all are.”

But there’s a tragic appeal to Giants. Like every day I throw on a shirt and tie, hoping that the next dollar will lead to something greater, the bottom almost always seems near rather than far.

Watching Malachi in particular is a case study for everybody who ever took odd jobs off CraigsList just to make the ends meet smoothly. Use your bare body as an instrument of art in regards to police brutality. Pass out promotional flyers and pray that your car doesn’t get towed. Deal with the physical apprehension of your body locking up in your sleep. There’s bits of anxiety that exist throughout Giants, especially within Malachi. Despite the hard exterior, he’s just as afraid of losing as we all are.

I’ve been both Candace and Journee, attempting to will someone out of a mental health crisis while also dealing with my own. It sucks. You’re lying to yourself constantly about being “okay” when there are moments you feel that your body will drive your further away from seeking help. That “prayer” is more proper care than actively discussing your issues, walking further in dark spaces than light ones. I wanted to be a superhero for my friends that battled, all the while holding on to what bothered me. Giants didn’t immediately awaken this vibe, this spirit within me. But I felt eerily close to the edge. That letting things sit and simmer was far closer to destruction than being an active participant.

“Try to survive the day.”

The purpose of Giants, at least through the first four episodes is rather clear: try to survive the day. There is a brief moment of happiness for Journee in regards to a love interest met on a dating app, but none for Malachi. Abe gets dismissed early and yet arrives as a saving grace for Malachi when he needs bailing out. Yet the worst of it arrives in episode 4. When existing is the only option you have, you forego handling things in terms of normalcy. You give into desires and faults without questioning whether or not they’re the right or wrong thing. Through silence, Malachi tip toes the line, giving a family something they routinely do while also being a proxy.

A job is a job. But all jobs aren’t built the same. Neither are all men. For Malachi and company, their battles are our battles. Their stories are our stories. The moments in which we ask ourselves how low can we go without taking jail house chances. How far can we fight battles few are willing to understand or work with. If representation in media has taught us anything, it’s that reminders of our problems usually shed lights we once ignored. That we aren’t alone.

In the world of a giant, the only peers he has are those that look like him. In this world, there are only people who survive despite all of it – and those who perish.

About The Author

Brandon Caldwell is the founder & editor-in-chief of Day & A Dream. His work has appeared in VIBE, UPROXX, Complex, EBONY, the Village Voice, the Houston Press, Houston Style Magazine, DJBooth, The Sports Fans Journal, and more. Follow him on Twitter: @_brandoc