(extra credit) THEM: The Haunting Shadows of Prejudice

The show, THEM, vividly portrays the racial tension and discrimination faced by the Emory family as they move to the all-white neighborhood of Compton in the 1950s. The white residents, fueled by deep-seated prejudices, engage in various forms of racism, from microaggressions to blatant hostility. The Emorys become the targets of harassment, exclusion, and violence from their new neighbors.

One form of hostility directed at the Emorys was by the neighborhood’s housewives, who form a disturbingly unified front against them. In one scene, the housewives organize a campaign of exclusion, ostracizing Lucky, a black wife and mother of two, during a seemingly innocent gathering. This emphasizes how racism is not just limited to individual acts but can manifest as a collective, systemic effort to alienate and oppress.

Additionally, the show explores the theme of discrimination through the character of Henry, Lucky’s husband and father of their children, who faces racism in his workplace. Despite his qualifications, he encounters barriers to professional advancement solely because of his race. This aspect of the storyline sheds light on the broader societal challenges that Black individuals faced in the 1950s, emphasizing how systemic racism permeated various aspects of life.

The psychological horror in THEM is meticulously integrated into the narrative, creating a sense of unease and dread that goes beyond traditional horror elements. One notable example is the supernatural occurrences that torment the Emory family, such as eerie visions, haunting figures, and unexplained phenomena within their home. These events serve as external manifestations of the psychological trauma experienced by the characters due to the racial hostility around them.

The show also delves into the psychological toll of racism on an individual level. Characters, particularly Lucky, grapple with paranoia, anxiety, and a sense of isolation as they confront the constant threat of violence. The fear is not only from supernatural entities but also from their neighbors, blurring the lines between the horror of the supernatural and the horror of real-world racism.

Furthermore, the show explores the impact of racism on children, depicting how young minds can be deeply affected by the hostility directed at them. Gracie, the Emorys’ young daughter, becomes a focal point for both supernatural and racially motivated horror. The psychological toll on her is palpable, illustrating the intergenerational impact of systemic racism on mental health.

By intertwining racial tension with psychological horror, THEM provides a unique and viewing experience that forces audiences to confront the unsettling convergence of real-world racism and supernatural terror. The show effectively uses horror as a means to explore the deeply ingrained societal issues that continue to affect individuals and communities to this day.

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