Them, the new horror anthology series by Little Marvin, explores racial terror in 1950s America. In conversation with Shadow and Act, Little Marvin shared his thoughts on what home truly means, and how he’s creating space for more Black horror stories to be told.
Witnessing the terrorization of Black people in everyday life is what prompted Marvin to write Them, an idea that came to him about four years ago. There’s the constant public display of police brutality towards Black people, but Little Marvin wished to examine what this horror would look like as it invaded more private and intimate places, such as the home.
“It’s no secret that public spaces are weaponized against Black folks and have been since the dawn of the country. What I hadn’t seen was the tension between the public and the private space, and that most private of spaces, the home – which is supposed to be the safe space right? The world outside might be crazy but on the inside we have each other. The show began for me with a question, ‘What happens when the home turns on you too?'” he told Shadow and Act.
The anthology series is set during The Great Migration, where home ownership from the viewpoint of both Black and white people can be explored. The dream of the suburban home was prominent during the 1950s. “That really built the thriving middle-class of suburban home ownership that we all think of – which for Black folks we know it was anything but a dream, in fact it was a nightmare,” said Marvin.
In Them, the Emorys are the only Black people in a Los Angeles suburban neighborhood, and they are immediately not welcomed by their white neighbors. Marvin wanted to challenge the idea that certain spaces are meant for only specific types of people. “The American Dream is supposed to be for all of us – it is not owned by white people and it is not meant to be owned by white people. For me, it’s not about this Black family living amongst white people. It’s about a Black family living in the best place, with the best home, access to the best schools and jobs, and that’s something that we all want. The idea that white people kind of held those things as their own creates that tension,” he said.
Since there haven’t been enough Black horror series and films, many have been comparing the series, based solely on the trailer, to Jordan Peele’s Us––when the two couldn’t be more distinctive.
“Because there’s only been two or three [creations] in the last four years, that’s why we get compared,” said Marvin. “Lena Waithe kicked the door open so that I could come through. It’s my job to turn around and open it for the next generation and flood [horror] with new stories so that those comparisons never have to be made [again].”
Marvin hopes that Them will allow Black people in horror to be seen and heard more, as they deserve. He plans on helping other Black actors, producers, and directors to bring a refreshing change into the genre of horror. Season one of Them stars Ashley Thomas, Deborah Ayorinde, Alison Pill, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Ryan Kwanten, and Melody Herd. It is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.