Programming Review: ‘Lovecraft Country’

HBO’s drama series Lovecraft Country tackles the issues of racism, prejudice and privilege in a frightening yet mesmerizing manner.

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country'

(Image credit: HBO)

The series, a takeoff on author Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, follows World War II veteran and sci-fi fan Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he returns home to Chicago during the Jim Crow 1950s to search for his missing father Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams). While the two don’t get along, Montrose writes Atticus about a mysterious place in New England where he believes that secrets about Tic’s ancestry lie.

Curious to learn more about his legacy, Tic decides to travel east along with his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) — also a sci-fi fan whose favorite book is Bram Stoker’s Dracula — and childhood friend Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) in search of his father. Along the way, the three encounter racism at virtually every turn, from prejudiced gas station attendants to unnervingly racist cops. Once they reach their destination, the three are then forced to battle horrifying supernatural elements that in retrospect seem less scary than the racist realities of their travel.

Lovecraft Country executive producers Misha Green (Underground), J.J. Abrams (WestworldLost) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) unleash a flurry of ghosts, vampires, haunted houses, witches and magical 
spells to scare and terrify viewers throughout the series as it weaves different storylines together revolving around the protagonists, as well as supporting characters including Letitia’s sister Ruby (Wunmi Mosaku) and Uncle George’s wife Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis).

More succinctly, the producers also reflect on the real-life historical horrors of segregation and racial prejudice with its showcasing of sundown town lynchings and cross burnings that are just as terrifying as Lovecraft Country’s fantasy world.

The 10-part Lovecraft Country is oftentimes frightening and disturbing, but is overall a fascinating series worthy of viewers’ time and attention.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.