Lovecraft Country. ©iamdb.com.
By Shania King-Soyza
Based in the 1950s Jim Crow era, Lovecraft Country (Green, M. 2020, HBO) follows the adventures of Atticus Freeman and the community around him. Atticus or “Tic” is a black soldier who had returned home from being based within Korea. He received a letter from his abusive father to come and find him. Atticus is accompanied by the strong-willed and impulsive Leti and his witty, clever Uncle George. Along the way they experience supernatural and racial threats leading to a “mysterious home, in a plain of silence” (Uncle George, episode 2). The season extends past this and explores the world of the supernatural and magic within an intense racial civil war.
1. Classical Homages
If you love The Gothic, Sci-fi, anything supernatural then this is for you! Throughout Lovecraft Country, the director and writers use inspiration from classical and popular literature and film. Dracula (Stoker, B.1897) is mentioned as a key insight to the story whilst the monster itself is parallel to the racist white people within this world (not exactly that they are blood sucking vampires…). Each episode has an essence and familiarity of other films and television shows. From Stranger Things (2016-ongoing) to Indiana Jones and the Temple (1984), American Horror Story (2011-ongoing), Get Out (2017) and Lost in Space (1998).
2. Historical Context
The most tremendous part of this show is its historical accuracy. This show explores the trauma of slavery, Jim Crow era (1870s-1965), the horrendous death of Emmet Till (1955) and the Korean war (1950-53). This element of the show is not to frighten you, but rather to educate and expose the reality of what people of colour had to bear witness and experience. – At some points I started bawling not going to lie.
The entire show is shot beautifully, from the costumes, the architecture, and the props; it pragmatically throws you into the surrounds of the past. There is a haunting, creepy yet hallucinating dance sequence within episode 8 which is worth the eye-covering fear. However, there is a delightful modern influence from the way it was written and its sonic resonation.
4. Social Anxieties
The problems faced within the show is still prevalent to black people today. 2020 has forced the world to accept the ongoing prejudice black people face: murderous, violent, and unjustified. It touches on the trauma faced and pain experienced and passed down by generations of black people – the effects of child abuse that was influenced by the pain of slavery. Lovecraft perfectly represents the fears of the past and the present. Other anxieties included homophobia specifically within the black community, religious themes, and satanic worship, haunting and exorcisms, magic, and witchcraft. My favourite topic the show explored is the Kumiho – don’t google what this means. I am going to say no more, just wait until episode 6!
5. The Main Persuasion
The story is completely captivating. It was adapted and written by a black woman and has a leading black cast in an unconventional white centred genre. Jordan Peele and his magic has blessed the aesthetics and hidden easter eggs! Although the show has white people as the antagonist, it does not belittle or alienate anyone but rather uplifts black people and exposes unheard voices. The entire show is confusing until you reach the satisfaction of the last few episode where everything ties in. Lovecraft Country will have you crying, laughing, anxious, scared, grossed the fuck out and intrigued. By the second episode my religious mother turned and said to me:
“What kind of witchcraft do you have me watching?”
Yet she is currently on episode 5 still confused and loving every moment. If this does not convince you…then I do not know what will.