Being Black is beautiful, it’s redefining, joyful, complicated, and, at times, really fucking scary. The latter is what Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country really hones in on.
The HBO series is all the talk among the Black cinephiles and horror-lovers alike. Most of the talk being, “What in the world is going on in this show?”
It’s difficult describe how Lovecraft Country is merging the horror genre with the everyday lives of Black folks, all I know is, it works.
Atticus Freeman begins the show returning to his home on the south side of Chicago, from fighting in the Vietnam War, seeking answers about where his father, Montrose, is located. He, his uncle George, and local photographer Leti Lewis embark on a journey to a place called Ardham that his father mentions in a letter he sent to his son. The journey only gets more complicated from here, with characters traveling back to Chicago, to other dimensions and even transforming to entirely different people as the mostly Black cast learn how to make “White folks’ magic” work in their favor.
Through many twists, turns, and several re-watches on my part, it’s revealed that Atticus’ life is needed to carry out a spell for a White organization. Though journeying together, each character gets more in touch with themselves as they try to make magic their own and keep Atticus Freeman alive in each episode.
The horrors of 1950s Chicago (and arguably still today) were in no way subtle. A (still) segregated city made living in white-majority neighborhoods dangerous for Black folks, a Black child could be demonized for looking in a white person’s direction, and keeping a steady, well-paying job was a dream for folks, as White people were against hiring non-Whites at a time when integration was becoming the new normal.
More than simply saving Atticus Freeman, Lovecraft Country is about persevering through the horrors of life for the sake of family to come. Before the penultimate episode, I wasn’t sure how I’d lend my perspective on the show. Not that it wasn’t phenomenal, it’s such a beautiful telling of the power of community at a time that is gravely needed. It’s that it felt so complicated that one article couldn’t concisely contain the varying thoughts I have on the series. Then episode 9 happened, and I found myself ugly crying at a scene that embodies the experiences of so many African-Americans.
“When my great great grandson is born, he will be my faith turned to flesh.”To avoid spoilers, I won’t attribute this line.
More than just the horrors of being African-American in America, Lovecraft Country shows us why we must persevere through the horrors of this life: so our descendants can see the fruits of our labor. No matter how scared, angry, confused or otherwise. Our lives don’t begin or end with us; they start long before we exist and end long after we transition. Amongst all of the storylines and curiosities of the show, that’s the larger message I clearly receive. The Freeman family’s fight is a reminder of why Black people can’t stop pushing just because we’re scared, then and today. We all have lineages to fight for because we have people who fought for us.