Directors: Nelson Cragg (Eps.1, 2, 4, & 8), Craig William McNeill (Eps. 6 & 9), TI West (Eps. 7 & 10), Janicza Bravo (Ep.5), Daniel Stamm (Ep.3)
Story By: Little Marvin
Cast: Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Shahidi Wright Joseph, Melody Hurd, Alison Pill, & Jeremiah Birkett
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Oooooo…. This series took such an interesting, and slightly unfortunate turn. I received a text message from a friend to about this series, and after seeing the posters and trailer, I wanted to know just exactly what this series was going to give. And, as the TikTok saying goes, “it didn’t even give what it was supposed to have gave…” Well…at least not from beginning to end. 51-ish% of this series was actually rather clever and intriguing. The other 49-ish… … … … I mean, somebody got a little carried away with the imagination and creativity.
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Below are my grades for key components in #Them that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development.
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
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Character Arc/Development: B
General Entertainment Factor: Interesting Enough
Film Enthusiast Entertainment Factor: Interesting Enough
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1. The acting was phenomenal! Deborah, Ashley, and Alison were absolutely amazing!👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
2. Speaking of Ashley…I loved him in them glasses and mustache… yeeesssss. 😩😍
3. The character arc was strong for the most part, and put the Emory family through a series of social situations that allowed for an understandable character development that eventually led to a positive-ish arc—because we all know the truth when it comes to race relation in America. 😒🤦🏾♂️👍🏾
4. To continue with the arc, the issue with a part of the character development is with the youngest daughter Gracie. Something doesn’t feel as thought out about what her traumas, with or without White people, could’ve been to really elevate the overall arc of the Emory family. I do feel that having her stay back that day with Chester could have added more texture and possibility for her character. 🤷🏾♂️👎🏾
5. A creative aspect to this series that I actually enjoyed is the way it addresses trauma and racism in a paired and horrific way. 👍🏾👍🏾
6. All-in-all, the plot is pretty solid. It follows what seems to be a Fichtean Curve, but it could also be a Freytag Pyramid structure. The strength of the plot structure is experienced more in the first 5 episodes of the season—i.e. the first 5 crises of the rising action, which is the bulk of the plot. 👍🏾
7. In addition to what I mentioned in point #4 about Gracie, I also found the existence of “the man in the black hat” to be poorly thought out. It took 7-8 episodes to finally get a chance to know his “why and how,” as if it was supposed to be this amazing “ah-ha” moment, when the series should’ve actually just started with that episode to not only provide some foundation to the plot’s development, but to also take a heavier horror direction with the series with his inclusion. 🤦🏾♂️👎🏾
8. To piggyback off of point #6 (and maybe even 7), episodes 6-10 felt like an entirely different series. There was something realistically terrifying about the first 5 episodes, but then the last 6 episodes felt like the typical horror flick—The curse of La Llorona or Drag Me To Hell type of film. If I can use make-up as a metaphor—someone didn’t blend in that foundation well…or didn’t provide the right shade… 👀🥴🤦🏾♂️
9. Um… did we really need that identity factor to Clarke? I think not…🤦🏾♂️👎🏾
10. There was some special potential with episode 5 and Helen… I wonder what that realistic horror could’ve looked like if the series expounded on that historical fact. 🤔🤔
11. There were 2 or 3 themes that I found to be well executed throughout the series via the Emory family, but the theme I liked most focused on the mental strain White people had/have on Black people. This theme of “insanity/losing one’s mind” was well done. 👍🏾👍🏾
12. You know, those last 5 episodes really messed up pacing for me in the sense of messing up the flow and overall essence of that realistic terror of racism of the first 5 episodes. ESPECIALLY episode 8…🤦🏾♂️
13. I had a thought around episode 6, and that thought was, “I think we should NEVER give the okay to visually showcase Black people murdering each other as a result of Whiteness…” If there isn’t a spirit that is impacting ALL people equally, then let that spirit only mess with those of its own race.
I just found it uncomfortable and problematic, especially in the context. 🥴👎🏾
14. The best part of episode 9 were in the house, with the family and Marty. Again, because it followed, for me at least, the same realistic terror of the first 5 episodes. 👍🏾👍🏾
15. All of the last episode, except for the final 1-3 minutes, felt rushed, lazy, and cheesy. Like giving the ghosts in Michael Jackson’s Ghost video actual lines to recite. 🥴👎🏾
16. YES Anika Noni Rose! 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾
17. Um…I am on the fence about Da Tap Dance Man…🥴
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Overall, #Them gives Netflix’s His House-meets-early episodes of Lovecraft Country-meets-a Beautiful Mind-meets Tyler Perry’s Temptation. Little Marvin truly had something creative and special with the first 5 episodes of this series, but the second half of the series felt experimental and slightly extra. It’s not a bad series at all, but it was a disappointing use of quality by the end for me.