Is it a copy or inspiration? Producer and actress Lena Waithe has garnered heat after releasing a trailer on March 22 for her upcoming anthology series with LIttle Marvin, “Them.” The series explores terror in America by telling a story about a Black family in the 1950s that moved from North Carolina to an all-white Los Angeles neighborhood during the period known as the “Great Migration.”
The family’s idyllic home becomes ground zero where malevolent forces — next-door and ethereal — threaten to taunt and destroy them.
While Waithe and Little Martin are excited about their upcoming series on April 9, social media has had quite a bit to say on how similar it is to well-known producer Jordan Peele’s film “Us.” Peele is best known for his comedic and horror films. Ironically, Waithe’s trailer premiered on the same day as Peele’s two-year anniversary, which also stars actress Shahadi Wright Joseph, who can also be seen in Peele’s film.
Undoubtedly, diversity in the film industry is important, but Waithe not only duplicated a similar plot as Peele, but the aesthetic of the production also looks extremely familiar. Before seeing the producer’s names at the end of the trailer, it is automatically assumed to be another Peele extraordinaire which is why social media was in such an uproar the day of the trailer release.
One Twitter user wrote, “It is probably unfair to say Lena Waithe is biting Jordan Peele here but, calling it Them and having someone from US in the cast does not help her case.”
The series was also compared to the theme of HBO series “Lovecraft Country.” Originality is important, and pertinent when releasing productions in this day and age. Waithe lacks that with this rather duplicated series.
Another Twitter user wrote, “How did Lena Waithe go from saying ‘your art is stunted when you’re trying to pretend to be something you aren’t’ to copying … Barry Jenkins and Jordan Peele???”
Waithe is also under the gun for creating a series that depicts industrial complexes such as racism and Black trauma. I believe it is highly unlikely to see a Black film or series that does not display any type of trauma. Black culture should not be depicted as traumatic, or comedic, but Waithe does just that in this series.
Unfortunately, I do not see myself tuning into this series, it is not diverse, and it does not stray away from the stereotypical Black distress that producers continuously push out to the community. Hopefully Waithe will soon be released from the shackles of industrial complex films and shows.