Amazon Series Review: Them by Little Marvin
THEM is a limited anthology series that explores terror in America. The first season, 1950s-set COVENANT centers around a Black family who move from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as The Great Migration.
The first season of Them by creator Little Marvin is at once so terrifying and skin crawling that you can’t bear to continue watching, yet so intriguing and well-written that you can’t pull yourself away. As a horror maven I am always in search of horror that fills me with dread and infiltrates my mind, yet I rarely find horror that affects me on such a deep level. Them, on the other hand, took me completely by surprise, filled me with dread, and forced me to stare racism in the face. Horror has never been so good.
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I rarely review television series or movies because I don’t often come across many choices that affect me deeply enough to the point of me wanting to leave a review. When I first came across Them I wasn’t sure what to expect. I at first assumed that it was a television series about racism in the 1950s, but I did not know that it was also a horror series. Maybe going into watching this series without any prior knowledge of it intensified my experience, but I also attribute my awe to the writing and the brutal yet elegant way racism was personified through horror villains.
Them begins with a family on the move from South Carolina to California in search of a new life. We aren’t exposed to the family’s history until later on in the series, but we are shown how the family moves to an all white neighborhood called Compton and their presence as a black family is not received well. The perspective of the series focuses primarily on the perspective of each family member and their experience as supernatural experiences invade their everyday life. Each episode gets more and more intense as we learn more about the family’s history and each of the parent’s deteriorating mental health.
In this anthology, racism is personified as various supernatural villains that target each member of the family, while also influencing each of the white neighbors who target the family from the moment they move in. The language and behaviors used against the family are vile and the epitome of the darkest form of racism. The series jump ropes with the line between eye opening and inappropriate without ever crossing it, but forcing the viewer to stare racism in the face — while also acknowledging racism’s impact on mental health as both of the parents demonstrate symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
But it was the way that the story was filmed and presented to the viewer that created such a lasting effect. Each scene was a work of art and infiltrated my mind with dread, horror, and an intense urge to take action. The angles of the camera and the sound effects and music choices intensified each scene in such a delicate and torturous way. The episode that revealed the tragedy that the family suffered in their previous home was by far the most horrifying horror scene I have ever witnessed, but it was done in such a way that you couldn’t look away. The anger and pain I felt during this scene made me want to reach right into the screen and save the mother and her child from the torture they experienced while also feeling helpless and unable to do so.
Little Marvin has created such an astounding work of art with Them that I can’t praise it or recommend it enough. Racism is such a despicable aspect of our society, and there is no better way to present it on television than through the lens of horror. Little Marvin has created such a controversial series with such grace that left me breathless. While Them is extremely difficult to watch it is vital that you take the time to view it. It will change you for the better and inspire you to take action. I am not the same after watching it, and you won’t be either.
Published by Ashley Nestler, MSW
Ashley Nestler, MSW is a survivor of Schizoaffective Disorder, Quiet Borderline Personality, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, multiple eating disorders, and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ashley has dedicated her life to educating others on mental health and illness, as well as providing online resources for those who may experience barriers when seeking help for mental illness. She is also the author of “Beautiful Nightmare”, “Into The Fog”, and “Behind Broken Glass Walls”. Her short stories and horror poems have been published in various anthologies. She is an educator on writing and loves to help authors through her book critiques and reviews. View all posts by Ashley Nestler, MSW
Originally published at http://peachykeenreviews.com on April 21, 2021.