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Lovecraft Country reclaims pulp fiction for the Black men and women it excluded

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Lovecraft Country starts with a dream. A Black man fights on a battlefield, but we can’t see who he and his fellows are clashing with. The reveal is spectacular: aliens, monsters, and a princess of Mars. The soldier stares down a menagerie of impossible beings from the works of Wells and Burroughs, white writers who only ever thought to send white men off on adventures to face these creatures. In this dream though, the Black soldier is Atticus Freeman, confronting them with some help from a hero of his own: Jackie Robinson. Then he wakes up — back to the reality of the 1950s where white men are entitled to the world, the paperback on his chest where white authors lay claim to fantasy, and the racism that barely lets him exist in either.

Based on Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus (Jonathan Majors) as he goes on a journey to find his father Montrose (Michael K. Williams) who has disappeared somewhere in Massachusetts. On his travels, he’s joined by his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), and together, they brave the earthly horrors of racism alongside the otherworldly ones of things unknown.

But that’s only the first two episodes. Horror has a way of following you, and Freeman’s family soon becomes a magnet for the strange and terrifying, their Chicago neighborhood a place where ghosts and monsters hide in plain sight. Each episode of Lovecraft Country becomes a fable where the moral is the same: racism is a monster, and perhaps it’s time the racists fear something, too.

There’s also the matter of the man the show takes its name from.

Like a lot of American racists, Howard Phillips Lovecraft holds an enormous and disproportionate level of influence in his particular field, horror fiction. Similar to D.W. Griffith, he has a venerated place in the canon because of his groundbreaking work, despite the clear and apparent repulsiveness of that work. This is not really up for debate; you can see for yourself that Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is Ku Klux Klan propaganda, and much of Lovecraft’s writing is openly racist and shocking even for his time.

But alas, many have said, he is so good at what he did, and thus is inextricable from horror because he’s influenced most of your favorite writers. If you dabble in any kind of horror, there’s a little bit of Lovecraft rattling in your brain, and decades of fiction inspired by it likely put it there. And so there has been a rot at the heart of this mode of fiction — Cosmic horror, stories about what happens to the minds of characters who discover that humanity is insignificant and there are things older and far more powerful than we could comprehend lurking outside of our comprehension. It’s horror conjured by privilege, the fright that comes from imagining that you are not the most important thing in the universe — the arrogance of Lovecraft’s bigotry codified into genre fiction.

Lovecraft Country is a story about taking all that back, starting with the man’s name, which has become synonymous with the kind of horror he produced.

This is what gives Lovecraft Country its most disconcerting quality — its tone. Its episodic structure makes each episode a different kind of story where Atticus and his family are the heroes, the adventurers beset by unseen evil imagined by authors who thought of them as undeserving of their own story. Because while the show is named after Lovecraft, the racism is not limited to him: it is a feature of the genre. The terror of cosmic horror was canonized by men who did not have much to dread about their own existence.

Image: HBO

And so Lovecraft Country leaps from genre stepping stone to stepping stone, never really settling in one place long enough to dive deep into the implications of every premise, to let the viewer sink into any particular feeling of familiarity. It can be bracing if you are unprepared for it and dissonant if you are expecting the kind of “prestige” presentation befitting the HBO brand — itself often a signifier of whiteness and privilege.

Needle drops are often baffling and on the nose, pulling from Cardi B and Nina Simone. Characterization is haphazard, and dramatic turns take place out of left field, as if entire scenes are missing. On some level, it is deeply frustrating television, especially when it proves itself capable of episodes like “Holy Ghost,” a taut and effective horror story about a haunted mansion full of ghosts who want revenge on the racist who killed them. But Lovecraft Country‘s aims are straightforward, and maybe they’re enough — asserting that horror, even the pulpy kind often dismissed by the cultured, is driven by fear of the Other, and that we have not thought enough about who the Other that has been feared all this time is.

A funny thing about Lovecraft: there are very few direct adaptations of his work, none in mainstream film or television. Cite him all you want; his grip on the pop-cultural consciousness is tenuous at best. In making Lovecraft Country for HBO, showrunner Misha Green and her collaborators have arguably made the most popular work with the man’s name on it, affixing it to a story that would abhor him. Like an Old God, Lovecraft Country has stirred and worked its way from Ruff’s novel to premium cable and posters and advertisements. It has gazed upon its namesake and found him not wanting, but insignificant. The fear his writing spoke of, now turned to Lovecraft himself.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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