It’s summer, which means new and very exciting shows are premiering on multiple channels and streaming platforms. One of the shows that premiered recently, was HBO’s Lovecraft Country, the multi-genre period show about the thrillingly dangerous adventures of Black Americans, in 1953.
Developed for television by Misha Green (Underground), Lovecraft Country is an adaption of the book written by Matt Ruff which tells the story of a young Black man Atticus Freeman (Johnathan Majors) who with his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) travel across America in search of Atticus’s missing father. Along the way, they encounter monsters of the human variety.
After just two episodes, LaNeysha and Carolyn have become huge fans of the show, and as such will be hosting special bi-weekly recaps of the show during its 10 episode run. In this first episode of So Here’s What Happened in Lovecraft Country!, they share their thoughts about all of the themes from “Sundown” and “Whitey’s On The Moon”. They discuss how racism is the horrific monster the characters face, the biblical themes, and the power of ancestry and bloodlines.
In episode 1 titled “Sundown” audiences were introduced to Atticus, a young veteran returning from South Korea where he fought in the three-year war as an American soldier, as part of the UN forces. After receiving a letter from his father Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams), who has gone missing, Atticus travels to his hometown in South Side Chicago where he meets up with his Uncle George and asks him for help finding his father, who decides to use the trip to research for “The Negro Motorist’s Green Book”. As they prepare for their trip, Letitia a childhood friend of Atticus’s also returns to the city. With her short stay at her sister’s home ending, Leti decides to go with Tic and his uncle. As they travel further from the comfort of Chicago, they encounter more and more hate from racist white people. They’re constantly mocked, insulted and chased out of towns, and threatened with death by monsters.
As the first episode, “Sundown” does a great job of introducing the characters and showing us who they are as individuals. We get to see how they interact with each other. Atticus is the person who knows what their plan and goal are. Uncle George is the guide and person who encourages them. His and Tic’s knowledge of Lovecraft lore and American history comes in handy when faced with the unexplainable. Leti is smart, quick, and brave. She’s the one that doesn’t hesitate to do what needs to be done. By setting up racism as the main evil our intrepid trio will have to face throughout the season, Misha Green has laid a foundation that shows how pervasive hate towards Black people was and is towards Black people. It touches every facet of life, from how Black people are treated by police, to how we see ourselves and treat each other.
This theme is carried over into episode 2 “Whitey’s on The Moon” when Tic, Leti and Uncle George become guests, but not really at Ardham Lodge, the ancestral home of Christina Braithwhite (Abbey Lee) and her father Samuel (Tony Goldwyn). Ardham is a lodge that was built by Samuel’s ancestor Titus, with money made from the labor of slaves, one of whom was Tic’s maternal ancestor. In this episode the connection between white supremacy, biblical interpretations and sexism are shown in very interesting and at times disturbing ways. We see how ancestry can be either a blessing or a curse when Tic learns a very important secret about his mother’s ancestor Hannah, who was a slave that ran to freedom.
Carolyn is a Freelance Film Critic, Journalist, and Podcaster – and avid live tweeter. Member of the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), her published work can be found on But Why Tho, The Beat, Observer, and many other sites. As a critic, she believes her personal experiences and outlook on life, give readers and listeners a different perspective they can appreciate.