There is already an array of movies/films covering the topic and subject of Black struggles from the time of slavery to Jim Crow and after that when prejudice didn’t die down even with abolished laws. While “Lovecraft Country,” executive produced by Jordan Peele, follows in that same manner, it does something completely different and in my opinion, unexpected.
The new series, currently airing on HBO and based off the 2016 novel with the same name, follows a Black man who travels across the country looking for his missing father in the segregated 1950s. The main character, Atticus or ‘Tic’ Freeman (Jonathan Majors), is a Korean War vet who received an odd letter from his father about his family’s history. The two companions traveling with Atticus are his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and an old school friend, Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett). This storyline differs from others in its genre by doing one fundamental thing differently: It puts Black characters in the role of the hero.
It’s not unusual for horror/sci-fi to show you monsters, and tense odds and stakes that are out of this world, but it’s much less often that you will see Black people in the roles of this type of story as the protagonist.
What shocked me the most while watching this show was that the racism was ten-times more monstrous and horrifying than the alien-like beasts. There were times–like the whole sundown scene–that I actually found myself wishing for a monster attack rather than watch the sickening reality of the 1950s happen before my eyes. What makes things even scarier is the fact that not a whole lot has changed when it comes to police brutality.
Even before this scene, it was clear that the producers would not be shying away from the time’s struggles, battles, and prejudices. According to reports, things were added or changed when transferring the story from book format to series to add to its overall effect of the racially tense times. Some examples would be: The guide book that Uncle George and his wife are working on was an actual book during the times called The Negro Motorist Green Book. This was a guide to let Black people know where it was safe to travel. Another difference is the name change that Tic received. In the book his last name was Turner but in the series it was changed to Freeman as a sort of hint to the subtext of the show.
The first episode comes to an end in a gripping cliffhanger. After an intense battle against mysterious monsters, the three travelers end up at a mansion where they are expected by the greeter at the door. Personally, at the end I was eager to watch more.
As a Black person, this show is already proving to be particularly angering and frustrating while watching the racist scenes, but I feel as though the fact that I felt that way proves just how good this show is so far. This historically accurate fast-paced and humoring series is a show that I would recommend checking out wholeheartedly. From the likable characters to the intrigue and mystery, “Lovecraft Country” is engaging and interesting throughout the whole hour of its first episode.
I enjoyed seeing a person who looks like me in this type of role and have been inspired to buy the book as well as continuing to watch the rest of the episodes. HBO has released the first episode for free on YouTube. If your looking for something to spice up your quarantine stay, I think you should check it out.
By Kendal Amos, Sophomore, Little Black Pearl.