Time and again, stories told outside the “norm”–i.e. the cis white male perspective–are challenged. Their validity questioned. If previous successes like In Living Color, Living Single, and Moesha weren’t enough to silence these naysaying voices, current successful shows and franchises–like Black Panther, Watchmen, and Euphoria–should tell them audiences are hungry for a reflection of Black lives, culture, and experiences.
Enter a new series that blends Jim Crow-era 1950s with science fiction and horror: HBO’s Lovecraft Country, created by Misha Green and based on the novel by Matt Ruff. In the series, Atticus “Tic” Black (Jonathan Majors) teams up with his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and friend Letitia Dandridge (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to search for his missing father. The only clue is a letter Tic receives from his dad. A letter that beckons him to Lovecraft Country to learn the truth about their family heritage and legacy.
There will be comparisons to HBO’s other hit series Watchmen, but each is a unique story and setting. And while they both tackle subjects like racism, white supremacy, and white privilege, they approach them in distinctly extraordinary and mind-blowing ways.
Tic navigates a magical family legacy that puts himself and those he cares about in harm’s way. He also faces the racist legacy of America, and learns how trauma is passed along. The series showcases the inescapable nature of anti-Blackness and misogynoir. We feel the polarizing perceptions of who we are and who we are seen to be, and how–no matter what we do to bridge that distance–there are barricades placed to halt us.
The characters are not flat, one-dimensional cutouts existing solely to propel Tic’s story. Letitia is more than just a possible love interest for Tic. She is not the quiet, timid woman wringing her hands, waiting to be rescued. She fully participates in her existence and the journey, even propelling it forward at times, with a passion and zeal that makes you cheer. She’s not just a fighter. She exudes vulnerability coupled with a fierceness that signals, “I’ve had enough of this”.
Even Tic’s father, Montrose Freeman, goes beyond the label of an abusive father. He raises his son to be strong. Beneath the exterior, there is love, pain, and anger all jockeying for position. We see the complicated relationship Montrose has with both his son and brother, and we know we are not seeing the whole picture.
Themes of monsters, and not just the terrifying ones from pulp fiction stories, inhabit the series and endanger our cast. But in
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