On Saturday, Comic-Con@Home brought together the cast members of HBO’s brand new series, Lovecraft Country. The panel featured Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, Michael Kenneth Williams, Aunjanue Ellis, Wunmi Mosaku, Abbey Lee, and Courtney B. Vance. Sarah Rodman, executive editor of Entertainment Weekly, moderated the conversation.
Jurnee explains the premise as a new drama for HBO about a young man, Atticus (Jonathan Majors), who returns home after his father goes missing. Atticus goes on a quest to bring his father back home with his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and his friend, Letitia (Jurnee’s character).
“It’s a family drama tapping into so many themes that we get to explore about who we were as a nation and who we are now and who were in Jim Crow nation in 1955,” says Jurnee. Courtney chimes in, “And how the themes of what is going on back then are still going on today.”
After each actor dives in a bit more about each of their characters, the conversation pivots to the relevancy of the show’s themes with today’s society. “There are so many themes that we explore in this show that resonate with us as being Black Americans in 2020. Unfortunately, as we’re seeing, sometimes our police departments are what Angela Davis calls, ‘One of the most dramatic examples of structural racism,'” says Jurnee.
The series ranges from topics such as green books, sun downtowns, and white fear
Those themes Jurnee alluded to deal with everything from green books (a manual that was written by Black citizens that gave an outline of places that were open to them in segregationist America) to sun downtowns (the town’s in which Black people needed to leave before sundown if they cherished their lives).
Abbey’s character, Christina Braithwhite, is an allegory for the modern day Karen. As the daughter of the leader of a secret order, Sons of Adam, Christina is the main antagonist. “She represents on a larger scale sort of the oppressed 1950s women, liberating herself from the patriarchal society and family she’s been brought up in all the while doing it with her white privilege.”
It’s unsurprising to see Jordan Peele’s name attached to this adaptation of author Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel. He continues to make remarkable strides showcasing the story of Black lives and the importance of these stories in a unique way.
Jurnee also comments on tapping into systemic racism that our nation is built upon is dark but necessary. “My teacher refers to it as blood memory. It’s something that reverberates through our DNA, this visceral connection to the oppression of our people. That’s why these stories, we’re still telling them. It helps you have the strength to tackle these stories.”
If this conversation hasn’t convinced you to watch the show, maybe Courtney’s pitch will. “Watch Lovecraft Country because it is so different and so engaging. Especially during this time period, we’re living in now. You thought you had something going on with Game of Thrones, but watch out. […] We’re working our throne. This is gonna be something you ain’t never seen before.”
And just as the panel wrapped up, an exclusive scene from the series was shared.
It’s family business. HBO’s new genre-bending TV series, Lovecraft Country, premieres August 16 on HBO. Stream the whole Comic-Con@Home panel on their official YouTube page.