Dreaming Whilst Black - Episode One 'My Name Is Kwabena' Review

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In the first 'Grass-fields Reviews' feature, we're taking a look at the premiere episode of 'Dreaming Whilst Black', an online mini-series by 4Quarter Films.

 A jazz-filled dream sequence might not be the first you'd expect in a 2018 online mini-series, but the premiere episode of 4Quarter Films' Dreaming Whilst Black opens with just that.

 In 'My Name Is Kwabena', we're introduced to an aspiring filmmaker working at London's famed Ealing Studios, who literally embodies the name of the series. Snapped from his fantasies by his boss ordering him to fetch coffee - and, relatably, mispronouncing his name - we see Kwabena brought back to reality with a thud.

Described as '[struggling] to navigate between his dreams and reality', Kwabena is very much - to use a popular espression - #relatable. From shows such as Aziz Ansari's Master of None and Issa Rae's Insecure, a new generation of television and film is gaining ground.

Combining the endless grind and millennial struggle to 'make it' - whatever 'it' may be - with the realities of the black and immigrant experience, these speak to an audience that has been long neglected.

In Kwabena, we see another sympathetic character and audience surrogate. The unglamorous reality of his existence is in full display. Forced to perform menial tasks, being chastised by his boss "Don't speak to the actors", his work experience is interspersed with smart humor and commentaries on stereotyping and white privilege without ever feeling too preachy.

A colleague assumes Kwabena smokes marijuana, remarking "I thought you were Jamaican", to which he replies incredulously "I am". After this exchange, Kwabena is advised by his colleague "No matter what anyone says to you just smile and take it".

Later, Kwabena is hilariously caught flexing for the 'gram, recording a video boasting "I'm here, big studio, me and Tom Cruise" before he is interrupted by someone walking through the room. 

In one powerful scene, Kwabena checks his colleagues after overhearing them make a racially insensitive joke. It's then revealed to have been a fantasy sequence. In reality, Kwabena didn't challenge them and went on his way. Many of us have probably found ourselves in similar situations, afraid to call out people's behaviour for fear of negative consequences on our livelihoods.

In just the first episode, Dreaming Whilst Black manages to flesh out its world and premise in an engaging way. With 8 further episodes, it's undoubtedly an addictive must-watch series.

WATCH: Dreaming Whilst Black - Episode 1 'My Name Is Kwabena'

 
Watch the first episode on YouTube, and let us know your thoughts. We'd love to know what you think about Dreaming Whilst Black and if you relate to any of the experiences.

Pop up in the comments below or get in touch with us on Twitter, let's get a discussion going! 

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