Lovecraft Country, HBO's genre-melding new horror drama, has a predominately Black cast, which is rare to see in mainstream horror, sci-fi or any of the the other pulp genres the series operates in. Showrunner Misha Green, using author Matt Ruff's book as a template, consciously put her flag down for Black people on the cosmic horror subgenre of 1900s horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, who was notoriously racist even for his time, as well as many other genres that have typically excluded Black creators and protagonists.
"I think it was something that Matt [Ruff] was doing in his book that I really appreciated and wanted to continue throughout the series was this idea of reclaiming a space that hadn't typically been made for people of color. Which is funny because horror is about others, and the othering, and all of that," Green told TV Guide. "That's engrained in all horror, yet it was excluding people of color mostly. So for me, that was definitely part of what excited me about the project in the first place, and something we wanted to keep and honor and expand even outside of even H.P. [Lovecraft], and really go into all of the pulp genres that have left people of color out."
Jurnee Smollett, who plays Letitia "Leti" Lewis, a Black woman who refuses to make herself small even in Jim Crow-era America, praised Green for her vision for the show and for finally giving performers like her a chance to play in these worlds. "Lovecraft Country, through the leadership of Misha, really deconstructs these classic genres and flips them on their heads and reimagines them in such a radical way and centers Black voices, voices who've been shut out from these genres for so long," Smollett said. "I'm such a fan of horror and sci-fi and have felt frustrated as an artist from being unable to participate fully in them."
Lovecraft Country is set in the '50s and has some retro visual and genre sensibilities, but the themes it explores are very contemporary — largely because Black Americans still feel many of the same fears today. "The reality that I could, god forbid, leave my home and meet my demise, merely based on the color of my skin, is f---ing horrifying," said Michael K. Williams, who plays troubled patriarch Montrose Freeman. "And that is part of the Black experience living in America. So to fuse that with the typical horror genre I think is brilliant and I think it's very timely."
Lovecraft Country airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO. It's available to stream on HBO Max.