White 1950s Jim Crow America was not a fun place to grow old as a black person. Now, being a white man myself, I can only imagine what horrors black people and other people of colour still to this day face in the real world, but when I watch a show such as Lovecraft Country I still feel sick to my core.
Based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the series stars Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman and Jurnee Smollett as Leti Lewis; a pair of childhood friends who haven’t seen one another in years, but who team together along with Atticus’ uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to find his missing father.
Moving from the safer streets of Chicago to towns which will happily slaughter all black folk upon sight, their journey is one that’s packed full of danger, whether that be from their fellow man or indeed the terrifying monsters they soon encounter.
The chemistry between Majors and Smollett and their respective characters is off the charts. The pair are able to convey deep and sensitive emotions with just a look in one direction. A dangerous scenario’s gravity is told through how they interact with one another and it will often be them that you look to in moments of confusion.
With such a complex narrative that intertwines the real world with what you would expect to just be a figment of the imagination, there are times when you may feel a little overwhelmed. Put your phone down and step away from the socials however, and you’ll become fully-enveloped in a story so unique and unlike anything you’ve ever seen, that it’ll stick with you long after the final credits roll.
Moves could have been made to ensure that the various stories being told intertwined more fluidly but honestly, this is a minor flaw that’s easy to forgive when you come to realise the messaging that those behind-the-scenes are hoping audiences will take away.
And that soundtrack. Goddamn. It’s a journey all of its own, with the likes of Nina Simone and Etta James providing the pitch-perfect vocals that complement the scenes on which they are overlaid. Just stunning.
Though Lovecraft Country is described as a “horror”, it delves into a handful of different genres throughout its 10-episode journey. The closest it does get to the horror trope is in its third episode, where some stereotypical aspects of said genre are leant upon, though only gently as cast and crew do their very best to make it stand apart from those that have come before.
LGBTQ+ storylines are woven into the series, albeit not very well. A man who is described as “the one who wears the earrings” is quickly revealed to be queer, for example. It’s this sort of stereotyping that we should be moving away from rather than using to supposedly push forward a narrative. It’s an area that shouldn’t have been touched if writers weren’t willing to fully commit, as they did with their exploration of racial inequality.
With a little more fine-tuning, Lovecraft Country could be an untouchable show when it comes to critiques. What we can celebrate it for however, is being pretty damn close.
Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, as well as digitally via digital retailers.
COMPETITION: Win a copy of Lovecraft Country on DVD
“Lovecraft Country is an entertaining and thought-provoking series with a unique story and important themes,” said Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, TV Marketing. She added, “Lovecraft Country offers exceptional acting performances, top-notch production and outstanding cinematography. If you enjoy thrilling dramas with supernatural themes, this is a series you won’t want to miss.”