HBO’s new hit series Lovecraft Country takes inspiration from Matt Ruff’s dark fantasy horror novel that explores racism in American culture through the contents of H. P. Lovecraft’s horror books. “I just think it’s so interesting what Matt was doing in the book, which was reclaiming genre spaces for people who have typically been left out of them,” show creator and executive producer Misha Green said during Deadline’s Contenders Television awards-season event.
“Because that’s when horror works the best way when it’s a metaphor for something else,” Green added. “So the ghost is a metaphor for the things that are haunting you. And being Black in America is like being in a horror story so it just fits perfectly.”
Starring Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, who joined Green on the virtual Contenders panel, the period drama series follows Atticus Freeman (Majors) as he sets forth with his friend Letitia (Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip across Jim Crow America in search of Freeman’s missing father (played by Michael Kenneth Williams). The mission turns into a fight for survival amid both the racist horror of white America and the monstrous creatures in the sci-fi story.
“You create a piece of art and you hope that it’s speaking to the times that it’s currently coming out in,” Green said, speaking about the relevance of the show.
“I think that the thing about Lovecraft Country, which we talked a lot about when we were developing it, is it’s timeless,” she said. “It can fit in the American story at any point because we’d been playing the same American story ever since 1619. So I feel like I’m glad that there’s more awareness about it. There are more conversations going on. And I just hope that Lovecraft Country is contributing to that conversation and building upon it and making us see things in a different light.”
Check out the conversation in the panel video above.