Lovecraft Country (2020)

If you ask Twitter what show they would bring back that was canceled, you would get an overwhelming response of people saying HBO’s Lovecraft Country. The sci-fi/fantasy show led by Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett captivated viewers from the very first, very intense episode titled “Sundown,” and kept us glued to our TV screens every week to see what would happen next.

The show magnificently bridged sci-fi and fantasy with Black history and the Black experience, which is one of the reasons why I believe it was canceled. The story, although immersed in something out of this world, was rooted in reality and truth. Truth about this country and its actions against Black people that probably didn’t sit too well with the predominantly white executive board at HBO, or “connect” with some viewers who thought they had only sat down for a sci-fi/fantasy show. But, creator Misha Green, who had also created the superb show Underground on WGN with Jurnee Smollett as the lead there, created this show with a purpose and did not shy away from any topic.

The show begins with Atticus Freeman’s (Jonathan Majors) journey across the United States in search of his missing father, played by Michael Kenneth Williams. He is joined by childhood friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George, played by Courtney B. Vance. Throughout this journey, they are met with the horrors of the Jim Crow south, and monsters from the very book this show is inspired by. Given its author, H.P. Lovecraft, was extremely racist, it made this show and the stories it told all the more important.

One of the best episodes of the series tells one of those important stories. The penultimate episode, titled “Rewind 1921,” takes the characters and us viewers back to 1921 Tulsa when a white mob (most, if not all, part of the Ku Klux Klan), attacked the Greenwood district of the city, which homed the most affluent Black community in the U.S at that time. They killed, they destroyed property, they burned down buildings, and even attacked from the air. For those who did not know this happened (because it certainly is not taught in schools – I didn’t know about it until a handful of years ago when I watched another HBO show, Watchmen, which had this event as part of its storyline), it was a much needed history lesson, even if it was in the midst of something like time traveling.

The way season one ended, it easily could have gone on for at least another couple seasons. Creator Misha Green had even released the story bible after the show’s cancellation, which outlined her ideas for season 2 and beyond. Lovecraft Country even went on to receive a whopping EIGHTEEN Emmy nominations, including a nomination of Best Drama and all four acting categories. It won two awards, one being for guest actor Courtney B. Vance. So, with that much critical and award acclaim, it was especially confusing that a show like that could end after only one season. Yet, with a show that Black, that queer, that historical, that philosophical, that truthful—it comes to no surprise. Shows like Lovecraft Country are rare, and when a rare gem of a show like this comes along, it’s hard to keep them going when there’s so much stacked up against them.

Lovecraft Country can be streamed for free on TUBI.

Isabel Maina

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