'Lovecraft Country': What Is HBO's New Show About?

Lovecraft Country appears to have a lot going on. It’s got Black characters in the 1950s dealing with society before the Civil Rights Movement. It’s got a road trip. Oh, and it’s got monsters too. HBO’s new series is based on the book by Matt Ruff. It worked well for the network when they adapted George R.R. Martin.

Misha Green adapted Ruff’s book for HBO. Green was also on a Television Critics Association panel for Lovecraft Country on Aug. 5 where she discussed what the show is about. Lovecraft Country airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. on HBO. 

‘Lovecraft Country’ is about monsters and racism 

H.P. Lovecraft was an author who whore about monsters like the Chtulhu and Shoggath. Huff created a historical drama in which those monsters were real. 

I think that the monsters are a metaphor for the racism that’s kind of always been through America and even globally. Jim Crow was everywhere at the time. It was clear for us that the show was taking place in the North and understand that this was a problem all across America. Yes, we definitely talked a lot about putting them on the same plane as the monsters. That parallel was very clear for us and we were very adamant about making sure that we kept that throughout the season.

‘Lovecraft Country’ is historical and modern

Although Lovecraft Country takes place in the 1950s, modern elements from 2020 creep in. Green did the same sort of thing in her previous show, Underground, using modern music as a soundtrack for the Underground Railroad.

“We kind found that really worked well on Underground was this idea of using modern music to bridge time, to take a period piece off the wall,” Green said. “It’s not a portrait anymore that you’re stepping into. So, for me, that was just another thing that I knew I was going to bring to this project as well, and it’s just so fun to play some Cardi B in 1950 and have it resonate just as much as it does today.”

This is a big show

Costume drama and big visual effects are each daunting in their own right. Combining both in Lovecraft Country makes it one big show. 

Lost, I think, kind of paved the way for this bigger TV making,” Green said. “I think the show is definitely an epic journey that wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t making TV at the level that started kind of with Lost and that pilot. We just went for everything in that space from the adventure story to the horror story to sci-fi, all of it. Big genre fans will definitely see those Easter eggs and those homages throughout.”

Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) goes looking for his missing father (Michael K. williams) in the town of Ardham, Mass. His friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) joins Atticus on the road, and in the crosshairs of the Lovecraftian creatures. 

“I love monsters,” Green said. “I’ve been a horror fan since I was a kid. So, it was just kind of going into that whole realm and creating these CGI monsters and really finding that was exciting and fun. And for me, again, the genre works best when metaphor is on top of something real, so it felt really prescient here and what Matt Ruff had done in his book to parallel how the monsters from pulp was the metaphor on top of the racism that was going on in America, and it’s still going on.”

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