What You Need to Know | Amazon Anthology Series, ‘Them’, is a Horrifying Depiction of the Terrors of Racism

Imagine  a black family moving to an all-white neighbourhood in a time period when people  of colour were tagged as  outcasts and an abomination. Them is a newly released American horror drama created by Little Marvin and executive produced by Lena Weithe (The Chi, Master of None). The first season, tagged “Covenant”, isn’t a true life  story but it definitely presents a story of how the skin colour can turn into one’s greatest nightmare. The series creator, Little Marvin, pulls out the story from the history of the  Great Migration, when African Americans fled the racist South for other parts of the country. With this horrendous history, the creator is able to craft the dreadful experience faced by the Emory family. The show follows the presumed 10 days of hell that the Emory family will spend in their new home.

Image via Amazon Prime Video
The Emory Family

The pilot episode of Them presents the Emory family relocation in 1953 from North Carolina to an all-white neighbourhood in Los Angeles. Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas), husband to Livia (Deborah Ayorinde) and father to Ruby (Shahadi Wright) and Gracie (Melody Hurd) has just landed a good job at an engineering firm. Unfortunately, their hope of a fresh start away from the agony which was vaguely shown in the beginning of the episode  before their move to Los Angeles becomes a pipe dream. The family is welcomed into the new neighbourhood with evil glares and an unwelcoming atmosphere right from the moment they step into their new home. The white people hover and loiter around them like a stain that has come to stay.

Them will present the usual premise of how blacks are maimed, harassed and mentally tortured by the white majority. The interesting part about the pilot episode (Day 1) of Them is the fact that the father knew the neighbourhood is against ownership of a property by a ‘negro’. Interestingly,  his decision to still go ahead with buying the house despite this ‘negro’ law because the real estate agent told him “convenants are no longer legally enforceable”, is a daring thing to do. He is just a man who wants to stand his ground against white supremacists or maybe he feels he might just be lucky and they will welcome him in the neighbourhood with open arms.

Image via Amazon Prime Video
The Ringleader of the Emorys revolt, Betty Wendell

This show is about the monstrosity called  racism. The first episode reeks of tension and horror that is about to break loose. The instant disapproval of the Emorys in the neighbourhood is led  by Betty Wendell (Alison pill) and her army of white ladies playing all sorts of obnoxious and racist music right at their doorstep as a message to the Emorys that they want them out of their neighbourhood. The director presents the bone of contention right from the beginning of the show without beating around the bush. Episode one shows Livia already has  a mental trauma that she is dealing with and the hostility  surrounding her new home might just be her last straw. However, the middle of the first episode depicts that the show might take a supernatural path which doesn’t seem right to me. The plot is already there, it just needs the director to put his art into play. If the show takes a supernatural path other than the beautiful plot it already presents, it might make the movie unrealistic and viewers might not be able to feel any emotion for the victims of the show. Or maybe that is just the just the route the creator will use to display his art.

Them employs the use of weird music and unsettling images to prepare viewers for the atrocity that is set to come. The pilot episode of Them shows that there are still a lot of unanswered questions and a deeper plot to dissect which is enough to keep viewers hooked. The vulnerability and horrors faced by black people are expressed in the presumed ‘City of Angels’. Although many movies and shows have depicted  the anguish, pain and inescapable trauma inflicted on people of colour, Them displays something more, something darker. Little Marvin carves the plot out of the ordinary— no person of colour will dare to stay in this unfriendly environment but  Henry and Livia vow to stay. Is this bravery or suicide?. Oh it has  already started, death has already knocked on their door  and I am sure there is far worse thing for the Emorys to worry about than a dead puppy.

Image via Amazon Prime Video
Gracie and her mother, Livia

Them: Covenant first episode starts with a strong premise, anybody who watches the first episode will definitely want to see how far the white residents will go to chase the Emory out of the neighbourhood, how long will the Emory family be able to withstand the gruesome taunts or better still, what will be left of them? The series will take a new angle when it returns for its second season, as Amazon has already given the go ahead for a new season. Since it is an anthology series, the next season might introduce a new set of actors and characters, and if Them: Covenant still has a story to hang on to, some of the old characters will likely reprise their role in the season that follows. Also, a new location will probably be explored and the use of the Emory family Los Angeles neighbourhood is also a possibility. We can only look forward to details concerning the new perspective that the second season will take.

Our Verdict: Watch

The first season of Them is currently streaming on Prime Video.

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