Swarm was one of the most highly anticipated titles at this year’s SXSW. People who watched Atlanta know Donald Glover‘s sense of humor is dark. It also swerves into the horror lane regularly. So when it was announced that his next show would be a limited series thriller, we got in formation.
The series follows Dre, a young woman whose obsession with a pop star takes a dark turn. The show is a very cool blend of humor, satire, murder, and drama. The series was co-created by Janine Nabers (of 2019’s Watchmen series). One of the writers is also Malia Obama of THE Obamas. So it came out of the gate swinging.
Part of the buzz around the project also stemmed from casting Chloe Bailey in a more adult show than we’re used to seeing her in. We were also interested in the Billie Eilish casting announcement. It’s Eilish’s acting debut, and we hope it’s not the last we see of them in the genre. However, Dominique Fishback is the lead and evokes sympathy and empathy. At times you find yourself rooting for her character despite what side of the weapons she’s on. Her ability to get every single laugh while doing some of the wildest stuff imaginable is a skill that led many of us to accidentally binge the whole show in one sitting. There are also quite a few kills that feel very “good for her.”
Every episode tells you, “This is not a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is intentional.” This is because the writers took a lot of influence from the Beyhive. Their pop star Ni’Jah’s (played by Nirine S. Brown) career and style even resemble Beyoncé so heavily that you almost expect Ms. Knowles to be listed as a producer or to make a cameo. Swarm continues to blur the lines between fact and fiction by utilizing murders and internet rumors as a playground for the character of Dre to wreak havoc.
One of the strongest things the show has going for it is this murky line of truth. We see toxic fandom every day and watch obsessions for public figures that lead people to some of the most unimaginable actions. So, that sits with you as you watch Dre make her way through people who disrespect her queen. It’s hiding beneath the surface of every laugh, giggle, and “I hope Dre kills this person too” moment. The fact that all of it could be true is the scariest thing about the show. While we can take comfort in some of these rumors being unverified, we have to sit with knowing the true ones are reflective of where we are as a society at the moment.
Because I binged the whole show and had a great time for the most part, I don’t want to say too much. However, I will say if you dug Atlanta’s awkward disturbing comedic vibe, then you’ll probably enjoy this too. The two shows have many of the same attributes, but one focuses on a Black femme with a nasty murder habit.
Swarm premiered at SXSW this year. All 7 episodes are currently streaming on Prime Video.