“Swarm”: A Satirical Blend of Horror and Comedy

Photo from denofgeek.com

After the success of “Atlanta,” Donald Glover is back with another story that is certainly worth discussing. Created by Glover and Janine Nabers, the Amazon Prime series, “Swarm,” aims to depict toxic fan culture in a horrific, yet comedic way that audiences cannot stop talking about.

In this limited series, viewers meet an ultra-obsessed fan whose love for a pop star takes a very dark turn. Reminiscent of Beyoncé and her fandom named the Beyhive, “Swarm” aims to create conversation surrounding stan culture and the extreme effects it can have on a person.

“Swarm” follows a young woman, Dre, who has a deep obsession with the artist Ni’Jah. Played by Dominique Fishback, Dre completely centers her life around Ni’Jah. She sees her as her idol, and anyone who doesn’t feel the same has horrific danger coming their way from Dre.

This series does not hide the fact that it is trying to resemble Beyoncé and her immense following. Unlike dramas, each episode of “Swarm” starts with title screens that may or not be shocking to viewers. Before each episode, it states, “This is not a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is intentional.”

Similar to Beyoncé, Ni’Jah releases viral visual albums, goes on sold-out world tours and has a large fan base that always has her back. Beyoncé and her fans are never mentioned in the show, but it is very clear to viewers who Ni’Jah and The Swarm are based on. On top of alluding to Beyoncé, each episode of the series is inspired by real events in the past.

“So when Donald pitched this idea of a Black woman who’s obsessed with the pop star, I said, ‘I know what the pilot is’ and ran with it. So every episode deals with real news stories, real events or internet rumors that have happened, and we have put our wonderful woman at the center of that story,” says Naber in an interview with Indie Wire.

Nabers went on to say that “Swarm” was created during the early months of the pandemic and that, “Our writers’ room was completely Black. All our directors are Black, [and] most of our producers are Black.”

She also is aware of how the show may be a lot for people to take in on the first watch — it is meant to be shocking. Naber says, “We know the show is propulsive,” she said. “We know it’s going to evoke a lot of conversations.”

Photo from pitchfork.com

Along with the captivating storyline, “Swarm” enchants viewers with the performances of Dominique Fishback, Chloe Bailey and Billie Eilish.

Viewers have praised Fishback’s commitment and believability to the role of Dre. Fishback fully dedicates herself to this role — while watching, viewers can take notes of all of the subtle, yet prominent details of her acting. Fishback is able to communicate loneliness and isolation from Dre, yet she also is able to go to very twisted places for this character. Driven by her past and a hunger for Ni’Jah, Dre is a character viewers will not be able to take their eyes off of.

Bailey and Eilish also give standout performances. Bailey plays Dre’s sister, Marissa, who, without giving any spoilers, is a very important piece of Dre’s story. For her acting debut, Eilish plays a cult leader who Dre crosses paths with.

Photo from latimes.com

Since its release, the reviews of “Swarm” have not slowed down. Critics and fans have praised the show for its shock value and satirical take on fandom culture.

Margot Harrison, Seven Days VT, says, “Even when we’re frustrated by our protagonist’s refusal to face reality, Fishback’s chameleonic performance keeps us riveted.”

“Mainly, Swarm should be watched to see Fishback in action, moving between vulnerable and vicious as she plays a once-invisible woman who finally makes her mark, says Fiona Sturges, Financial Times.

“While Swarm may be considered strange for some, it’s the bold strokes that the show is painted with that make it all the more intriguing. It’s unpleasant with a purpose,” says Annie Banks, Chuck Load of Comics.

What are your thoughts on “Swarm”? Let VALLEY know your take by tagging @VALLEYMag on Twitter.


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