To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Swarm is a satirical psychological thriller series created by Donald Glover (Atlanta) and Janine Nabers (Watchmen). Nabers serves as the head writer with Adamma Ebo (Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.) leading the directing team. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Dominique Fishback, Chloe Bailey, Damson Idris, Billie Eilish, Karen Rodriguez, Nirine S. Brown, Paris Jackson, Heather Simms, Kiersey Clemmons, Cree Summer, and Norm Lewis. The story follows Andrea Greene, a young woman whose obsession with a pop star takes a murderous turn after the suicide of her best friend.
In Houston, Texas in 2016 Andrea Greene (Dominique Fishback) activates her new Discover Card so that she can buy two tickets for The Evolution Tour headlined by her favorite artist Ni’Jah. She posts on Twitter that she was able to purchase tickets and receives instant responses from other Ni’Jah fans. As she leaves her room she notices that her roommate’s door is slightly ajar. Looking inside, she sees her roommate Marissa (Chloe Bailey) having sex with her boyfriend Khalid (Damson Idris) and stares at them. Khalid notices Andrea looking through the door and smiles at her.
Donald Glover is a very versatile entertainer and has come a long way from playing mouth-based video games. A jack-of-all-trades, Glover does comedy, acts, writes, produces, and raps under the stage name Childish Gambino. Glover has been on a hot streak for nearly a decade. He created the hit show Atlanta, which lasted four seasons on FX. He played a young Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) and Simba in Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King (2019) – a movie where literally one scene was live-action! His third studio album Awaken, My Love! (2016) was met with critical acclaim with the single “Redbone” winning the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Two years later his hit single “This Is America” debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and won Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rap Performance, and Best Music Video. With all these accolades it’s no doubt every studio was looking to work with him.
The chosen aesthetic for the series bleeds surrealism. Like Andrea the show feels a little off. Now and again there is a buzzing sound like a swarm of bees is near, that makes you feel uncomfortable. While not innately a horror series, that sound, in my head at least, makes Andrea feel closer to Candyman which is pretty scary. The lighting is over-saturated and the background is typically out of focus. The show feels like watching a daydream or a play. This style along with the statement at the beginning of every episode pays off down the road in the big reveal of episode six.
Swarm is the only show I can think of that follows a Black female serial killer. Talk about a niche, but Glover and Naber found an interesting in with the fan angle. Above everything else, Swarm is a look into modern fan culture and it’s connection with mental health. It’s devolved into this “if you’re not with us then you’re against us” mentality. While physical altercations are few and far between, online altercations happen every day. People aren’t allowed to dislike anything anymore without getting ridiculed.
Dominique Fishback flexes all of her acting muscles in the series. Andrea is a super fan of Ni’Jah and while her best friend’s dedication has waned over the years, Andrea is still willing to do anything for the singer. This is evident in her eventual killing spree of anyone who bad-talks the singer. While not outright revealed, it does seem like Andrea has some kind of social disorder. Most likely due to her rough childhood in the foster system. Her reactions to murdering people become more nonchalant as the series progresses to the point where she is no longer someone you root for. She lacks the charisma of Dexter or Hannibal leaving the viewer more interested in the crazy situations she gets herself into than her.
It’s quite apparent that Ni’Jah is a Beyoncé-esque pop star and her fans, the titular Swarm are based on the BeyHive. Her husband’s a wealthy rapper, she’s from Texas, and some people feel that her younger sister is a better singer even though she is not as famous. There is even footage of Ni’Jah’s sister fighting her husband in an elevator. Needless to say, I feel the BeyHive might feel like this show is some kind of attack on their character by Glover and Nabers and might have some things to say online about this clear comparison. But with Glover and Beyoncé being associates I’m sure she was well aware of his plans for the show.
For a new show, this was an interesting first season although I doubt it’s appealing enough to l gain a massive following. I give Swarm Season 1 an Average 3.9/5. Six episodes may have worked better as the final episode doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the season. I am interested in seeing where a second season will go and how long they plan to keep the show going. I personally see three seasons as the max.