HBO’s new breakout series Lovecraft Country may be filled with terrifying creatures like Shoggoth and Cthulhu, but actress Jurnee Smollet wants to make it very clear that there is a much greater threat than the show’s horrifying monsters: racism.
“It affects your livelihood and it affects you on every single level,” Smollet told a Television Critics Association panel. “Our heroes essentially are going on a quest to bring down White supremacy. We are still on that quest today in 2020 as Black Americans. Racism is such a demonic spirit — it’s something that we are still fighting off.”
While Lovecraft Country is especially poignant given the Black Lives Matter protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Smollett isn’t a fan of referring to the show as “timely,” and she makes a very good point as to why. While sitting down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smollet notes that the show would be relevant in 1619 as it is today due to systemic racism that has gone on for generations.
The setting for Lovecraft Country only further proves Smollett’s point that tackling racism will be timely at any point in America’s history. Taking place in the 1950s, the series prominently features “sundown towns,” a Jim Crow-era relic where Blacks were not permitted in certain towns after sundown. However, while Smollett is correct that calling Lovecraft Country timely brushes over centuries of white supremacy, the horror show is connecting with modern audiences in a big way. The debut drew similar numbers to HBO’s Watchmen, another critically-acclaimed series that wove America’s racist atrocities like the Tulsa Massacre into its narrative.
Lovecraft Country airs Sunday nights on HBO.