During Amazon’s presentation at Deadline’s Contenders Television awards-season event, Them creator Little Marvin spoke about exploring “the terror of navigating this country and Black skin.”
The anthology series takes place in the 1950s during the Great Migration and centers on the Emory family, Henry and Lucky, who decide to move from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood. The family’s home on a tree-lined, seemingly idyllic street becomes ground zero where malevolent forces both real and supernatural threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.
“What I hadn’t seen before in a story was the tension between the public and the private space and that most private of spaces, which is the home,” said Marvin, who was joined on the virtual panel by stars Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas. “The home is meant to be your safest of safe spaces. When the world outside your home is crazy, inside here we’ve got each other. The journey really began with a question: What happens when that home turns on you too?”
While dealing with the monsters in the basement, the Emorys face abuse and trauma, both physically and mentally, from their next-door neighbors who are wanting to preserve their way of life. Marvin talked about the importance of portraying these racially charged violent scenes authentically regardless of how dark the road turns.
“There was a history of brutality against Black bodies in this country to pretend otherwise is to sugarcoat the truth,” said Marvin. “I wasn’t really interested in sugarcoating the truth. This piece was not built to comfort you. It was not built to coddle you. It was not built to pacify you. It was built to rattle you and to awaken you, which I think ultimately is the point of art.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.
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