The very first black sitcom was released in 1950’s and became widely popular among diverse audiences. For quite a long time, this new type of series was sidelined, until if hit the stride in 80’s. The series portrayed life of the black community, their ups and downs, but were most commonly made comedies. The rising star, producer and actress Issa Rae is about to bring some change into typical black sitcoms with her new series “Giants”. 

 

Unleashing The Black Issues

“Giants” is a scripted digital drama series that aired on January 25 this year. Producer, writer Issa Rae and Empire star Jussie Smollett have teamed up to serve as executive producers of this new series. Six twenty-minutes episodes are rather a drama, touching upon such issues as sexuality, mental health, religion and economic survival.

"Giants": Issa Rae

Three black millennials on the heels of their 30s are struggling to get by and, as official Indiegogo campaign says, “determined to live life on their own terms, no matter the cost”. Malachi, a former poet, who starts his career as a model, but ends up in prostitution; Journee, his best friend and roommate, suffers from manic depression and has some troubles with her job; and Ade, who is fulfilling his dream to become a dancer, but is awkwardly seen as gay by some people.

 “Giants” explores social issues that are either ignored or stigmatized by the black community,”- sais James Bland, writer and director of the digital series.  “And regardless of race, these characters’ experiences are relatable to almost anyone because they learn the hard way that when life kicks your ass, you either lie down or fight back.”

These types of characters are not a common thing for media, and this is why it is important to bring to the light the struggles of the black people and show the realistic picture of all their inner ‘giants’ they have to battle. Issa Rae has been working to change the entertainment and media industry in a way where she could break the stereotypes and bring some change into people’s perception of black people, and especially women.

 

Issa The Awkward Girl

“Giants” is not Rae’s first project about the harsh lives of the black – the producer actually built her name with the “Awkward Black Girl” YouTube series, based on the same named New York Times’ bestselling memoir. The series follow the life of a black girl called “J” – played by Issa herself – an office worker in her early 20’s, who is constantly dealing with humiliations both at work and at home.

"Giants": Issa Rae

Issa Rae concept for “Awkward Black Girl”, which received over 20 million views online, was to depict black woman as someone imperfect, but still worthy of fascination and compeller to people. Issa associates herself a lot with the character she plays – for as much as 90%, she says. Growing up, she has lived in different places, and always related to feeling uncomfortable and out of place. The accent she had made people around her get confused – “You are not black, you talk hell of a white!” – Rae recalls them saying.

Another Rae’s series is the half-hour HBO comedy, “Insecure”, which received a Golden Globe nomination. It focuses on Issa struggling to fit in, just exactly like Rae did when she moved to LA. The series tells about two black women friends working their way of romance, career, and everyday life. “Funny, brilliant, and a little bit awkward” – critics describe the show.

"Giants": Issa Rae

Rae is the woman who is working on introducing new visions of black community life to media, emphasizing some serious social issues they have to battle. She portrays black women she knows, while incorporating some parts and traits of herself – she tells a story that a lot of people find compelling and truly authentic. As writer Jada Yuan puts it in her article about Issa, “Rae may not be able to control the changing racial makeup of her neighborhood, but she has been working hard to change the racial makeup of Hollywood”.

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