An obsessed fan of the world’s biggest pop star sets off on an unexpected cross-country journey.
Starring | Dominique Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah) as Dre and Chloe Bailey (Praise This) as Marissa
Where to Watch | Amazon Prime
Release Date | Streaming March 17th, 2023
I will always be drawn to Donald Glover’s projects, whether a series, movie, or new music. He is an excellent overall artist, so when it was announced that his latest project, SWARM, would be streaming on Amazon Prime, I impatiently waited for the show to hit my screener’s queue. Let’s say I was not disappointed by the thriller.
With the writer for the award-winning series Atlanta, Janine Nabers, serving as writer and showrunner for the series, you can tell how similar the shows are in tone. One can say the shows share the same universe with the story, camera style, characters, and similar structures, besides all the murders that occur in SWARM.
As I was introduced to the lead character Dre played by Dominique Fishback within the first five minutes of watching the series, I was met with a visual of Chloe Bailey that I did not expect to see. I am sure people will be talking about it on the internet. We see Dre’s obsession with scrolling the internet of her music idol Ni’Jah, equivalent to Beyonce. In fact, the stories and rumors that have circled Beyonce are used in this series, down to her fan base known as the Bey-hive.
In a Vanity Fair interview, Nabers explained the lead character Dre by saying, “We were really interested in creating an antihero story,” She went on to mention how she and Glover drew inspiration from classic TV antiheroes who were messy but compelling—Mad Men’s Don Draper, The Sopranos’ Tony Soprano—and created a new version of that archetype, “through the lens of a Black, modern-day woman. Nabers and Glovers, combined with the acting of Fishback, create a truly mysterious but intriguing anti-hero in Dre.
When we first are introduced to Dre, she’s scrolling through her social media fan site of her favorite singer Ni’Jah, whose life she solely revolves around and is comparable to Beyonce. Dre is so obsessed with the artist she opens a credit card to buy tickets and doesn’t even have enough to pay her rent. Dre struggles to connect with the natural world and often feels awkward or out of place around others. There is character growth with Dre as she slowly sheds her shy and low confidence into a more confident murdering super fan. One might say she becomes a serial killer, with specific triggers that occur once someone attacks or does not acknowledge her idol Ni’jah.
Not only is Ni’jah closely similar to Beyonce, but even the events/tabloids surrounding Beyonce are similar, and in Atlanta fashion, the writers and actors make it work. Setting up jokes and planting easter eggs for the audience to enjoy, similar to the Teddy Perkins episode of Atlanta in season 2, episode 6, or the “Three Slaps” episode in Season three.
Chloe Bailey plays Dre’s best friend and roommate, Marissa, who seems more grounded and positively influences Dre. She has grown out of the Ni’Jah fandom and is the closest thing she has to family. Marissa plays a significant part in the series, contributing to Dre’s wild, murderous adventures from her routine life. Bailey has some great chemistry with Fishback as her best friend.
Outside of Bailey’s chemistry with Fishback, the introduction of the Marissa character within the first five minutes definitely came as a shock to me. Let’s say some adulting things happen, and don’t be shocked when you see it trending on social media. I know I was thrown entirely off guard.
Other guest stars include Damson Idris (Snowfall), Paris Jackson (Sex Appeal) and Billie Eilish, and X Mayo (The Blackening), who all play colorful characters that make each episode worth watching. Their interaction and communication with Dre are something you’ve probably heard from some friend, family member, or crazy neighbor but it’s hard to believe. Although the series is meant to cover two and half years’ worth of Dre’s life, it feels like more with the hijinks she gets herself into in different states.
SWARM has a lot of visuals that set the tone of each scene, mainly when Dre is triggered or has a flashback. At times, the change in environment, including colors, lighting, etc., made me unsure if Dre was in her head or actually playing it out in reality. Much credit goes to the series directors, including Adamma Ebo, Ibra Ake, Donald Glover, and Stephen Glover, for creating these scenes.
SWARM is a thriller with funny and shocking moments that will definitely trend. I have only seen the first four episodes, but I can already say that Dre’s stories get crazier than the people she meets, and it will serve as a palate-pleaser for fans of the Atlanta show. My biggest question is, what will Beyonce think of the series?