A new captivating thriller about “stan culture” recently premiered on Amazon Prime and has left some viewers with mixed reactions.
Swarm is the latest cultural phenomenon by artist and producer Donald Glover, alongside playwright and television writer Janine Nabers, and premiered on Mar. 17.
Glover, whose musical stage name is Childish Gambino, previously wrote and created the series Atlanta, a tale that follows the lives of an aspiring rapper and his manager through surreal episodes that could stand alone as short films with plots that vaguely tie into the main themes.
Nabers was a contributor on Atlanta, so the two coming together to create a thought-provoking psychological horror thriller is not far-fetched.
Consider this an official spoiler alert, as the following details may give away the show.
Swarm stars actress Dominique Fishback, as Andrea ‘Dre’ Greene, and includes a star-studded cast featuring Damson Idris, Rory Culkin, Rickey Thompson, Paris Jackson, Billie Eilish, Cree Summer and writing from Malia Obama.
The seven-episode series toys with the layers of fandom in the current heightened climate of the internet. Dre is a superfan of her superstar idol Ni’Jah and throughout the series the audience witnesses the lengths Dre will go to defend her favourite artist and avenge the death of her late adoptive sister, played by Chloe Bailey, who also loved Ni’Jah.
Dre is willing to horrifically hunt down and even murder those who fail to acknowledge Ni’Jah as their favourite artist and just about anyone who gets on her nerves.
There are a few hints throughout the show that reveal the fictional character of Ni’Jah is based on Beyoncé. The series title is a nod to Beyoncé’s notorious fandom, the Beyhive, and sounds and imagery of bees plague each episode in a symbolic connection to the dedicated fan group.
The show also features real-life moments from Beyoncé’s life and career, including a reenactment of the Solange and Jay-Z elevator incident, tour names like the “Running Scared II Tour” instead of “On The Run II,” and countless others.
If that’s not eerie enough, each episode begins with a chilling disclaimer that reads, “This is not a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is intentional.”
The series even goes so far as to create a mock true crime documentary episode centering Dre as a serial killer, with a phone number and working voicemail that viewers can call and listen to.
Others have taken to Twitter to share their confusion on the thought-provoking series.
And some are giving Fishback all the flowers for her enticing performance.