First things first, readers-mine. This is both a television show and a novel. The novel came first, and when I read it during quarantine at the end of last June as Black Lives Matter was everywhere, it was particularly poignant. The author uses pulp, horror, science fiction, and fantasy to do what those genres do best: make a point.
That said, the book and the T.V. show are quite different. If you are someone who is a purist with adaptations, the show may not be for you. If you are someone who watches adaptations while keeping in mind that a book and a serial television show are very different, you should consider it. If you have never read the book and only watched the show, I suggest you pick up that novel and give it a read. This is a case where a book I love was turned into a television show I love. I recommend both and think that if you are entertained and made more curious by one, then you will be the same with the other.
I do want to make it known that neither the book nor the HBO show are for children in any way. Both are created for adults who are critical thinkers and understand that fiction tells us the truths that are often too difficult to face in reality. It creates a space for us to be empathetic, to put ourselves in the shoes of people who live disparate lives, and to realize that, underneath it all, we are human beings who are more alike than we are different.
Now, while all of that is true, I am writing this series of entries because a friend of mine asked me to. We’ve known each other since freshman year of college and I respect how quick and informed she is as a person. So, when she said that she felt like she was missing some of the references in each of the episodes, I was a bit surprised. After the eighth episode, as we were texting about it on Facebook, she suggested that I write something up for more people to read than just her. There are ten episodes in Season 1, and I have approximately sixty blog entries that I could do from it. To say there is a lot to talk about is an understatement. Readers-mine, I am not ashamed to say that I made a color-coded chart to keep it all straight.
I wasn’t sure where I was going to start with the episodes until I spoke to a friend from New Zealand who loves the show. The thing that scared her most throughout the entire ten-episode arc wasn’t the monsters nor the brutal violence; it was the concept of “Sundown Towns.” As a result, when I commence the episodic deep dives, that is where I will begin. If there is one thing that I want to make clear in this series of posts, it is this: Black lives matter and there is much about our racial history in the United States that we do not learn in schools. Many things have been forgotten by the average citizen or swept under the proverbial rug. I love my country, but the only way that happens is if people are ashamed of their choices and the only way to heal the hurt is to talk about it. So, readers-mine, that is what we shall do.
Shows like Lovecraft Country bring history to life using allegory. To truly understand what is going on beneath the surface, we need to understand the background and history. While I am not claiming to be an expert on everything, I am a thorough enough nerd that I have read Lovecraft, a ton of Speculative Fiction, and a lot of history. I also analyze costumes, lighting, and the ways in which shots are composed because I am a somewhat obsessive artist and photographer. Beyond that, in case you missed it in the last entry, I like research. Consequently, my trip into Lovecraft Country, both through the book and the show, has caused me to delve into diverse topics and adjust how I see some of our history. I hope you’ll join me on my ride as I explain what I’ve learned and what I’ve thought about as a result.