Racism as the Ultimate Horror — the Concept Behind Amazon Prime’s Latest Series ‘Them’

In Amazon Prime’s gripping new original anthology series Them: Covenant, the Emory family relocates from North Carolina to Compton, Los Angeles as part of the second Great Migration — in which scores of African American people fled the Jim Crow laws of the south. 

As Emory’s start to settle into their new surroundings, thinking they have left their days of being discriminated against behind, racism begins to once again rear its ugly head as their neighbours are not pleased by their presence. 

Almost as soon as they arrive at their new residence on Palmer Drive, Betty (Alison Pill) makes it known that the Emory family is not welcome, lamenting to her equally awful friends, “this is how it begins, with one family” before sneaking across the street to pour sugar in the Emory car’s gas tank. 

Things sour more than the sugar incident as soon the residents of Palmer Drive deface the family’s home and front lawn with effigy hangings reminiscent of a Jim Crow-era lynching. 

As if all of this wasn’t enough to contend with, the family must also deal with the terrifying supernatural forces that seem to inhabit their home, which is apparently hellbent on causing them real harm. 

The series blurs the lines between historical fact and fiction and has drawn comparisons to Jordan Peele’s Us — the follow up to his Oscar-winning Get Out — due to its analogous references to racism and terror of the paranormal. 

Starring Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas as Lucky and Henry Emory and Melody Hurd and Shahadi Wright Joseph as their daughters, Gracie and Ruby, Them: Covenant, is the first instalment in up-and-comer Little Mavin’s plan to develop further series about terror in America.

Christopher Heyerdahl, Liam McIntyre and Australia’s own Ryan Kwanten also star in the series that was co-executive produced by Master of None’s Lena Waithe. 

The themes of Them: Covenant are obviously incredibly topical in the current climate, something that Little Marvin referenced in an interview with Deadline after the first two episodes premiered at SXSW 21. 

“Like everyone, I’m thinking a lot about this country lately and the American dream. Who gets their keys to it, who, historically speaking, have not gotten their keys to it and why?

“There’s really no more quintessential part of the American dream than the dream of homeownership. Especially for Black folks, it’s a point of great pride. So exploring the nightmare beneath that dream was really at the beginning.”

Them: Covenant will be available to view on Amazon Prime Video from April 9. 

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