• Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

How Amazon Prime’s ‘Them’ Reimagines Black Experiences Through Horror


If you enjoyed Lovecraft Country and Get Out, you will appreciate Them; and maybe watch it with the lights on too. The 10-episode limited series was released on Amazon Prime Video.  The series is reminiscent of American Horror Story: Murder House, for our AMH fans. But it has one single, realistic element that’s scarier than getting killed by a bunch of ghosts. Them scares us with the harsh reality and horrors of 20th-century racism in suburban America. Go figure. 

“As the sinister elements outside the home ratchet up, that obviously allows for the cracks and fissures within each of them to be infiltrated by something malevolent,” Little Marvin, the creator of the series, told The New York Times.

What is Them about? 

The show takes place in 1953. It follows a Black family moving from North Carolina to the suburbs of East Compton, Calif. The family includes the mother, Lucky (Deborah Ayorinde) and the father, Henry (Ashley Thomas) and their daughters Ruby Lee (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Gracie Jean (Melody Hurd).

Almost immediately after settling into their new home, the Emorys began to battle with their neighbors. Their leader, Betty (Allison Pill), rallies together her own “angry white mob” to throw racist attacks towards the family.

Them: Telling The Black Experience Through Horror

The discrimination that the Emorys family face seems frightening; however, not in a traditional, horror flick sense. But just add in the assault, torture, and murder of Black people, a creepy minstrel character, and supernatural forces; then you have a full-fledged nightmare.

“I [watched] an interview with Mahershala Ali — he was saying that when he’s scared of material, that’s the piece that he will go to,” Thomas told WWD. “And so I took that approach.”

More and more filmmakers and television directors have been using the genre as a means to convey Black trauma. Most notably is Us (2019), which displays the same horror elements as used by Alfred Hitchcock. Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017), is the reason why we hesitate about drinking tea with white friends. 

The TV series Lovecraft Country, and the Netflix movie, His House (2020), also intertwine the Black experience with horror.


“As with comedy, I feel like horror and the thriller genre is a way, one of the few ways, that we can address real-life horrors and social injustices in an entertaining way,” Peele said in a 2016 interview with Forbes“We go to the theater to be entertained, but if what is left after you watch the movie is a sort of eye-opening perspective on some social issues, then it can be a really powerful piece of art.”

Them is available now on Amazon Prime


Mia Hollie

Mia is a recent graduate of Penn State and an aspiring writer. When she is not writing for RoyalTee Magazine, she enjoys listening to music, learning graphic design, and reading.