‘Swarm’ alludes to the Beyhive, but the new thriller is about much more


Note: This article discusses plot points in “The Swarm” but avoids major spoilers.

Yes, Donald Glover and Janine Nabers’ new series “Swarm” opens with the declaration that “this is not a work of fiction” and that “no resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is intentional.” Do it.” And yes, the show features a larger-than-life pop star with a loyal, ever-buzzing fan base, Joe Ticketmaster breaks. When she announces an important visit, a witness Argument between her husband and sister in the elevator and is bitten by a stranger who At least one person believes in Sana Lathan..

But “The Crowd,” which premiered Friday on Prime Video, isn’t about Beyoncé — not really, anyway. It’s about Dre.

Dre (Dominique Fischbeck) is a 20-year-old woman obsessed with the legendary superstar Najah – an obsession she shares with Marissa (Chloe Bailey), who introduces herself as her sister and best friend. has happened But when a tragedy sends Dre reeling, his obsession with Najah takes something deeper: an antisocial relationship that becomes intertwined with his bond with Marisa.

“We really, really, really wanted to put a black woman at the head of the story in a way that you see a lot of white men in Hollywood do this anti-hero journey,” Nabers said on Zoom. said “You’re with them — until you’re not. You sympathize with them. Sometimes you just hate them. Sometimes you love them.

“Giving this journey to a black woman was very important to me as a black woman,” added Nabors.

Dre makes for a memorable anti-hero, even when his actions are difficult. the clock Her backstory is intentionally vague, though we get more details — just enough, that is — with each episode of the seven-episode series.

Program came to Bailey and Fishback in a similarly obscure way—as an untitled project by Glover. Both were directed to watch the 2001 French-language psychological drama “The Piano Teacher”. Fishback had just finished filming “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” in Peru when he got the call. Originally, she said, Glover wanted her to play Marissa. But after seeing the script, the “Judas and the Black Messiah” actress knew she had to play Dre. Glover offered her his full support – no audition required.

Fishback was offered few details about his character beyond the fact that Dre was “emotionally stunted”. As a result, she couldn’t approach the character the way she usually does—by journaling and trying to get to know the character psychologically. “I had to realize [the character] Physically — and be present,” she explained.

“It gave me a sense of freedom,” Fishback said, noting that Nabers and Glover trusted him to bring his artistic talents to the project. “It was a lot of fun for me, because then I started doing really weird things physically and seeing what reaction I got. Donald would be like ‘That was weird – I like it.’

In the first episode, Directed by Glover, Dre sucks his fingers in a vulnerable moment. The scene is shocking and laugh-out-loud funny — and it evokes the reality of “Atlanta.” Fishback said the script called for Dre to suck his thumb, but the actress thought the role was “too interesting” for her, instead of Dre himself after one of his sisters sucks him. Soothing modeling done. Fingers as a child.

Nabors, a playwright and TV writer whose credits include “Watchman” and “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce.” Glover was working as a writer/co-executive producer on the fourth and final season of “Atlanta” when he shared the idea for what would become “Swarm.” The pair worked for months on a pitch for the series and took the idea directly to Amazon, which released Glover’s 2019 film “Goa Island.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.)

“Crowd” Writer’s Room Jahan Nabars stepped into his first showrunner roleMany other “Atlanta” alumni are involved, including Pham Odiorji, Jamal Olori and Stephen Glover. “We were already creating a lot of content with great people, and it just felt natural that most of the writers from ‘Atlanta’ would come to the project,” Nabers said.

“Sheep” continues several traditions. Founded on FX Drama. — one of the pioneers of his small but expanding canon of what Nabers calls “Weirdo Black Shoes” — includes story subversion and a standout episode that plays like a true-crime documentary. And like “Atlanta,” “Swarm” features beloved black actors — including Carrie Summers and Levine (of “The Five Heartbeats” and “Temptations” fame), as well as rising star Damson Idris (of FX’s “ Snowing”) can also subvert expectations (or alternatively, I play).

Also in the writer’s room was Malia Obama—former President Barack Obama’s oldest daughter—referred to here as Malia Ann. The former First Daughter co-wrote an episode that sheds light on Dre’s traumatic backstory.

Despite the Beyoncé parallel, the writers had plenty to draw on among their ranks. “I made this show with someone who has his own mob of people around him who do the most weird and ridiculous and horrible things to try to get close to him,” Nabers said.

It’s not just the show’s narrative that explores our culture’s often skewed view of celebrity. This is woven into the show in various ways — including cameos by a very famous pop star and the children of (another) very famous pop star. And Bailey himself is one. Patronage of Queen Bwho signed the singer-actress and her sister Halle Bailey to his management company as the duo Chloe x Halle.

Viewers “can cast whoever they want in the role of pop star in our world,” Nabers said, noting that Najah is rarely portrayed on screen. “We don’t really see her for a reason because she’s a sensation — she’s supposed to represent something that we all understand and know at a distance.”

Although Bailey has his own relationship with the fan — through his own closely watched career and that of his mentor — he said he didn’t connect that aspect of his experience to his portrayal. Marissa’s “‘crowd’ isn’t about choice. “Totally,” he said. “It’s about Dre and how — the things she loves — how obsessively she clings to them.”

Her scenes with Fishback were intense and often emotional, and Bailey threw herself into playing a character “who looks good on the outside” but is “horribly broken on the inside.” As the pilot’s director, Glover was patient with the stars and any emotions that came up for them during difficult scenes, Bailey said. “He brought his vision to us, but let us add a big part of ourselves to it.”

“We made sure every bit of it was honest and raw in every sense,” he added.

Every episode of “Swarm” was shot on film, with Nabers, Glover and company referencing films including “American Psycho,” “Caché” and, of course, “The Piano Teacher.” Although they tell a coherent, if vague, story that unfolds over a two-and-a-half-year period in different cities, each episode functions – very deliberately – as a short film.

“We really set out to break a lot of barriers in the way we tell this story, with the avant-garde of this story,” Nabers said. “This is ours. Grindhouse in many ways. And we’re really proud of that.”

the crowd (7 episodes) premiered Friday on Prime Video.

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