HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ exposes the demons of America

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Photo Courtesy of NPR.com

Cayla Smith, Campus Editor

HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” is an American drama horror series taking place in the 1950s in Jim Crow America, where the viewer has the choice of deciding whether the monsters or racism is scarier. 

After Atticus Turner (Jonathan Majors) returns home from the war, he decides that he wants to travel across America in search of his missing father. He brings along his childhood friend Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smolett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance).

Throughout the episode there were moments where I wanted to turn away, and it wasn’t when the monsters came out. 

The first episode is called “Sundown”, but it’s not what you would particularly think. In Jim Crow America, a sundown town was an all-white town that was segregated, but would often intimidate or even go as far as use violence against black people. 

If you have never heard of a sundown town before, the episode hints at what it is before showing you. While driving by a billboard it read, “N***ers — Don’t Let The Sun Set On You Here Understand?” 

Even goes to talk about historical instances. When they are in a sundown town and discussing why the white house is white. We learn it’s because slaves had to paint it white to cover up the burn marks.

The group is following a guide book, which was called “The Green Book.” It was a book that was made for and by black people, and it marked where it was safe for black people to stop for food or even drive through.

Director Victoria Mahoney emphasized the time, but not in the way of direct racism. The way the character Atticus “Tic” walked, shoulders back whilst swinging an arm, and how Uncle George walked with a wobble to remind us of his bad knee.

The show was adapted from the 2016 novel, “Lovecraft Country” written by Matt Ruff. Ruff conjoined the monsters from the horror fiction novels written by H.P. Lovecraft and racism in America. The cover of the original book even says, “America’s Demons Exposed.” It’s up to the viewer to decide.

The novel didn’t make it on New York Times Best Seller List, but that didn’t stop Executive Producer Jordan Peele, from showing J.J. Abrams’ production company and deciding that it would be a great TV show.

Jordan Peele is known for the 2017 horror movie “Get Out” and J.J. Abrams is known for creating “Lost,” a television series that ran for six seasons before ending in 2010.

The show also has a Podcast, “Lovecraft Country Radio,” where Ashley C. Ford and “Lovecraft Country” writer Shannon Houston discuss the writing and the thought processes of the writers in the writer’s room to get each scene just right.

In episode one of the podcast, Houston says that even though HBO gave the show a hefty budget to work with, the writers still had to figure out how to tell the story.

“We would forget about all that and imagine that we have no monsters and no budget and we’re just trying to tell a family story,” Houston said. “What is that story and how can we make that compelling?”