Lovecraft Country As Art

Lovecraft Country

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Hi Gene and Ash,

I started composing an email shortly after watching episode 10 critiquing the season as a TV show but I wasn’t satisfied by doing so. It didn’t feel quite right.

I then started to think about HBO and whether they should have been braver in commissioning a three season run but I wasn’t convinced that was fair either. After all, they gave Misha Green an opportunity to showrun an incredibly ambitious show and allowed her to fill the writers room predominantly with black women. HBO need to be praised for those decisions.

Then I listened to the deep dive and your discussion which helped me to crystallise my thoughts as to how to approach Lovecraft Country as a completed season.

That approach is to view Lovecraft primarily as a piece of art rather than TV. That is the show represents the artist’s struggle to articulate their internal ideas through a medium. This allows me to have a more forgiving gaze and allows for a better dialogue with the ideas being grappled with.

As you both touched upon, the ideas in the show were bigger than the story carrying them. Is that surprising though? Racism is a huge beast that operates in so many aspects of society, both consciously and unconsciously, that we are still struggling to reveal and work through.

Take my Montrose hypothesis that I wrote after episode 9. I definitely feel that those influences were involved in the development of the season but were they articulated consciously in the writers room? Or were they part of the unconscious river that we are all attached to? After the final episode, I am leaning towards the latter.

Perhaps I am just happy to stay in my playpen of ideas? This show has made me happy in re-involving me in ideas I explored in the past. I have been looking through my bookshelf at books on history, race, sex and demonology (as you do) and I have learned things from both the show and the Shat podcasts.

Sometimes TV shows are just TV shows (hello Westworld season 3). Occasionally TV is proper art that makes you think. Rarely you get a fusion of great TV and art. Lovecraft Country isn’t great TV but it has made people think and engage.

Jacques Lacan once described psychoanalysis as a process that changes people but if it makes you happier as a result then that is a bonus. That kinda feels apt for your Shat On TV experience with this show.

My hope for this season is that it acts as a bridge for better and deeper conversations once the initial critique as a TV show works it’s way through. I do take encouragement from the fact that the biggest frustrations are about not exploring the characters enough rather than genre/world building.

This is perhaps the most interesting question. You have a black female showrunner and a writers room full of black women who create these complex female characters and then they are underutilised to the service of the story. Instead they get superceded by dead female characters in the final episode. I’m not sure what to make of that to be honest.

Anyway I am glad you survived the show.

Take care Shat family
John Lish

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