When I first saw the trailer for the new series Them, on Amazon Prime, I was interested, to say the least. I was missing Lovecraft Country bad, and I wanted a fresh new show with some of that show’s elements. Them is about a black family moving from North Carolina to Compton, Los Angeles, to make a better living for themselves during the 1950s, set in the “Great Migration” period. The main character is Lucky, played by Deborah Ayorinde, who is haunted by a tragic event that was the catalyst for her family leaving North Carolina. Lucky is constantly struggling to not let the demons of her past affect her present mindset, and boy does she have some demons! Her husband, Henry, played by Ashley Thomas, also struggles with ptsd. With Lucky’s help, Henry is now looked at as the rock of the family, as he takes a new job as an engineer. Sharhadi Wright Joseph and Melody Hurd play the daughters Ruby and Gracie. Both daughters are going to an all white school, struggling to adapt in that environment (Ruby especially.). The Emory family are not only being harassed by racist neighbors, but dealing with supernatural horrors that are haunting each of the Emory’s! At first Lucky is struggling to make her family realize what’s going on, but slowly each member begins to be afflicted by a haunting figure that wants to take the Emorys.
Ok, first things first. Some Spoilers Ahead! This show is dark. I mean, dark as you can go. Them is part of an anthology, so I suppose we can expect to see more in this series. The racism is about as in your face as it can get, with the setting during the 1950’s. It seems like all the white people on this show are either overtly racist, or just mildly racist. From burning racial slurs on the Emorys’ front lawn to hanging black dolls with nooses on their roof, to their daughters being mocked at school with ape sounds, at times it feels like the Emorys can’t just be. They constantly have to endure foolish antics from their neighbors while trying to succeed in 50’s America. Mind you, there is a sinister supernatural element haunting each of the Emorys. With Lucky and Gracie seeing the same spretre to Henry being taunted by a twisted black-face clown who’s trying to corrupt him, to Ruby struggling with being comfortable with the color of her skin to the point of imagining a white best friend who convinces her to dip her body in white paint! At times, it feels like they just can’t breathe and be themselves with some ignorant white neighbor or a supernatural entity haunting them! With that, we come into perhaps the most haunting and triggering part of the show. In the very first episode, we get a flashback of Lucky taking care of her newborn baby boy when a strange woman walks to her house singing a really disturbing song. Then, the woman notices the baby and wants Lucky to give him to her. Episodes later, we see the full event play out in brutal and unfortunate detail. The strange woman and two other men come into Lucky’s home, sexually assault her and then proceed to play a sick game called “Cat in The Bag”. I won’t describe it further, but after seeing the scene play out, it’s no surprise that Lucky goes through PTSD. Who wouldn’t?!
Are they actually good things about the show? Well, yeah. The acting from the main cast is amazing. You no longer view this as actors and actresses going through the motions. You see the characters come alive, experiencing everything and you can’t help but feel their emotions right along with them. The soundtrack is also pretty good, from Nat King Cole to Nina Simone. At the end of certain episodes, no matter how dark it was, I still bop my head when certain songs come on. And due to the fact that this is part of an anthology, it’s possible that we may see these characters or their descendants in future installments. Plus, Them does cover how redlining was introduced to black home owners and Compton was once an all-white neighborhood. It’s historical facts like this that makes me appreciate the lessons and do my own research into the material.
Bottom line, if you ever do decide to watch Them, I strongly consider not binge watching the entire show in one runthrough, like I did! Pace yourself mentally, and take your time with it. Will I ever come back to this show? No time soon. And while I would much rather have another season of Watchman or Lovecraft Country, we have to acknowledge all shows that show our creativity whenever we can. (But seriously, give me more shows with black folks as the main protagonists, going on adventures, being superpowered, and not just showing us the pain of how racism can crush us. That’s my review, guys. Till next time, fellow blerds!