Giants S2: E1 - Too Broke to be Whole


I have been waiting for Season 2 to drop since the final second of Season 1 finished one whole year ago and I'm so glad that it's here. Not only has the show returned but check this out: I was fortunate enough to be invited by Shanti Das, the visionary behind Silence the Shame (& fellow Syracuse U. alum), to participate in a panel discussion on mental health in communities of color--along with Keri Hilson, Necole Kane, Vaughn Gay, LPC, and THEEEE James Bland (writer, director, actor in Giants)--and to catch the S2 premiere! Because most of my readers are not in my close circle, you may not understand how major this was for me, so...I'll just put it in caps so you believe me.


When Giants began, I kept one goal in my back pocket as I made it through the season: Meet someone who helped to either birth, launch or directly support this beautiful idea and let them know in person how deeply I've been touched by this series and how it's helping decrease the stigma surrounding black mental health. Fast forward to February 2018 and I meet James Bland. Night made. Week made. Month made. 2018--made. 

But I know you're not here solely for my fangirling, so let me get to the magic that was this Season 2 premiere. Before you go here with me, make sure you catch up by watching S1 in full here, GiantsTheSeries. If you've seen my other blog posts before on shows/movies, I usually pick out a few major keys that stood out and do some breakdowns of what's happening from my psychological and relational perspective. It's been really fun for me to share what I'm watching from this lens, and I love when good content is there for me to dive into. Leggo!

So first off, the opening scenes caught me immediately--5 minutes of colorful cinematography, a voice over overlap pulling the 3 character stories together, & the words, "Clarity of mind. Clarity of Character. Clarity of Purpose." 1) Ade is seen walking outside at night alone & past a gay pride sign that says "Resist," clearly pointing to a sexual identity dilemma 2) Journee is getting church hands LAID on her, surrounded by family, to address her bipolar disorder and 3) Malachi is experiencing erectile dysfunction as an escort, a gig he picked up when he found himself desperate & trying to make ends meet. When the church leader yells "COME OUT!" it matches every character's plight, perfectly strung together.

Malachi (James Bland): Sigh. They went right there this season, wasting no time. Malachi is experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) and is completely freaking out. He's embarrassed, confused and his income is in jeopardy if he's unable to perform sexually. Whenever I hear of or have a client experiencing ED, I'm automatically looking for a medical reason or a psychological reason. Depending on patterns of how long it's been happening, when it happens, and information about emotional functioning, I'd recommended seeking out a primary care physician to make sure that your physical health is in check. What many don't understand is that ED can lead to anxiety, low self esteem, depressive symptoms & of course relationship distress. So imagine how this could affect you, if you have a whole career that's dependent on your ability to get aroused, stay aroused and perform! If there are medical reasons for erectile dysfunction, these SAME mental health issues can happen as a result. Malachi feels so much shame already about being an escort, and now this? His anxiety about this is clearly increasing, and he's willing to take other lengths (drug use....and no pun intended hehe) to keep his job.

Journee (Vanessa Baden Kelly): ...and stressed out sis Candice. Giants shows the challenges faced by loved ones of those struggling with mental illness; challenges that are often overlooked, misunderstood and judged unfairly. Depending on the severity of someone's mental distress, they may need others for more than the occasional conversation and crying spell--as we see with Journee, her symptoms of bipolar disorder render her unable to work, afford independent housing, get out of bed, even cook for herself, when she's in a deep depressive state. Though Candice originally didn't even believe that Journee has bipolar disorder, she's forced to believe how bad it can be really be for Journee after her suicide attempt. What's happening now is that Candice has TWO dependents, one she's actually responsible for (daughter) and one she FEELS responsible for (Journee).

And that's one too many for her to handle & keep her wits about her. Though Journee is identified as the "problem," therapy could also really benefit Candice (cuz something's clearly up in that marriage anyway, but I digress...). Candice is likely dealing with codependency, which can come full of anxiety, guilt, frustration, anger and feelings of helplessness. Journee denying that chicken salad was the LAST straw! Hard to watch her ignore Journee and kicking her out, but in the end, probably better for the both of them. And of course, Malachi comes through to diffuse things and just make the necessary moves.

Ade (Sean Samuels): So being blackballed by Mel (she's passive aggressive and rude AF by the way) is really messing with Ade. He's taken off the dance instructor schedule which affects his income. Mel still feels slighted and embarrassed AND won't allow him to apologize--which doesn't allow room for empathy or forgiveness. Ade has already experienced loss related to how others perceive him, likely tied to his sexuality. I'm not sure how much more he can handle, especially when others around him just choose to shut him out. Their mutual friend said it perfectly:

"You cannot keep punishing him for something you don't allow him to apologize for." 

I can appreciate that no matter what is happening and how much is spinning in their individual lives, these three stick together. They challenge each other, they call each other out, yet they remain present. Looking forward to how this season continues to develop their characters as they all get closer to the big 3.0!

Ep1 & Ep 2 out now!


The funnies:

-This physical/sexual tension between 'Chi and Ade. This history between Journee and 'Chi that we didn't know about...STORYTIME.

-Malachi REALLY thought he was gonna get out with just a nice oil massage? TUH.

-When Journee said "Malachi already ate," I nearly fell. OUT! I promise you, the tickled that I was in that scene has only increased with every watch (3x now--don't judge me). Watching amongst a huge crowd at the premiere--priceless.

-I will forever love Flip (Will Catlett) since his character on That Guy and First (shout out to Issa Rae Productions again!). Google him!

-Malachi says: "Yo turn that down," to see something more clearly is my entire life. Why do our senses work that way? Is this just perceived or is this a real thing?

And...did anyone else on the East Coast consider staying up 'til 3am this morning JUST to catch the 2nd episode? Maybe that was just me...Queueing up Ep2 as we speak...join me?