Jordan Peele has certainly kept himself busy in the two years since his directorial debut Get Out became a critically adored box office smash. Aside from following the movie up with his second film as writer-director, Us, he’s also created and narrated the latest version of The Twilight Zone, produced and been Oscar-nominated for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, and voiced characters in both Toy Story 4 and Big Mouth. Not only that, he’s also been working on a horror series for HBO called Lovecraft Country with J.J. Abrams. So, here’s Everything We Know (So Far) About J.J. Abrams And Jordan Peele’s New HBO Series Lovecraft Country.
10 It’s just as racially charged as Get Out
Jordan Peele made his name in sketch comedy, but he didn’t truly become appreciated as an artist until he made an incisive horror movie that pointed out the still-prevalent racism in today’s post-Obama society in horrifying ways. Get Out was a very politically charged movie with racial themes. Peele’s sophomore effort Us starred black leads and did have some political overtones, but it was less concerned with race than his previous movie. Lovecraft Country seems to see Peele going back into the racial themes of Get Out, since it’s set in the time that the Jim Crow laws were in effect and will offset Lovecraftian monsters against the very real terrors of racism.
9 It’s a road-trip story featuring Lovecraftian monsters
According to HBO’s plot description of Lovecraft Country, the series will focus on a character named Atticus Black, who sets off on a road trip in search of his missing father with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George. They’re heading across America in the 1950s, where they will face threats from both vicious white racists and, according to Deadline, “the cerebral monsters that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback.” So, it’ll feel like a road trip movie stretched out to a serialized long-form narrative, with Lovecraftian creatures roaming around in the backdrop, ultimately capturing the troubled essence of ‘50s America.
8 The show is based on a novel by Matt Ruff
Lovecraft Country is being adapted from a novel of the same name written by Matt Ruff. Upon its initial publication, it was praised by critics. Reviewer Alex Brown found the book to be “a tense thriller, a horrific nightmare, a heartbreaking tragedy, and a tale of holding onto aspiration and optimism even while being chased through the woods by a hellbeast from another dimension” that “thoroughly and effectively marries race and horror.” The novel was published in 2016, and it only took a year for HBO to order a TV adaptation of the book from Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams.
7 HBO has ordered the show straight to series
While TV networks usually order a pilot episode before they commit to making a whole season, HBO has given Lovecraft Country a straight-to-series order. To be fair, when Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams come into your office with an idea for a TV show, it doesn’t take much for you to buy the pitch.
This means that the producers don’t have to make a pilot episode to persuade the network suits to ask for more and can instead just dive into their story and spread it out among the episodes as they see fit. Usually, pilot episodes cram in as much story as they can to entice the network.
6 The series will shoot in Georgia
The series will shoot in Georgia as planned, despite the state’s controversial new laws on abortion. Atlanta is a hotbed of Hollywood film and TV productions, such as Avengers: Endgame and The Walking Dead. The new laws had some studios and producers pulling their productions out of the area in protest. However, Lovecraft Country will still shoot in Georgia, presumably because they were already in too deep and it would’ve been too costly to move the production. As a compromise, producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele have pledged to donate some of the profits from the series to fighting the divisive new bill.
5 It adheres to a bunch of genres
Hybrid genre stories can be interesting, but they usually only blend two genres and one of those genres is reduced to tropes and clichés while the filmmakers focus on one. HBO’s Lovecraft Country is boldly going for a style that adheres to a few different genres. When the Hollywood Reporter described the show as a “drama series,” Jordan Peele tweeted to clarify that it is “more of a social thriller/horror/sci-fi” series, which certainly sounds ambitious. Horror and sci-fi are a fun mix, while the term “social thriller” existed before Peele came along, but it was his movie that re-popularized and re-defined the term.
4 Jonathan Majors and Jurnee Smollett-Bell are playing the lead roles
The two lead roles, Atticus and Leti, will be played by Jonathan Majors (best known for roles in similarly racial-themed projects as White Boy Rick and When We Rise) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (the sister of disgraced Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who has been cast to play Black Canary in the DCEU), respectively.
The show has lined up a terrific supporting cast, too, featuring Michael Kenneth Williams, a.k.a. Omar from arguably HBO’s finest series The Wire, Elizabeth Debicki from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and The Night Manager, and Courtney B. Vance, who famously played Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson.
3 The pilot will be directed by Yann Demange
HBO has already hired Yann Demange to direct the pilot episode of Lovecraft Country. Demange has previously directed Dead Set, the Charlie Brooker-written reality TV parody with zombies, and a few episodes of Criminal Justice, the BBC miniseries that HBO remade as The Night Of. He made his feature film directorial debut in 2014 with the historical thriller ’71, which may not have been a huge box office success, but was acclaimed by critics. Demange won the British Independent Film Award for Best Director for the film. His sophomore directing effort, White Boy Rick, also starred Lovecraft Country’s male lead Jonathan Majors.
2 The creator of Underground will act as showrunner
Misha Green, who previously created the historical drama series Underground about the Underground Railroad that was used by escaped slaves to make their way to free states, has been enlisted by Jordan Peele to act as showrunner on Lovecraft Country. Green cut her teeth in the TV writing game as a staff writer on shows like Heroes and Sons of Anarchy, and like Peele, her work has addressed America’s racist past (and present). Green is also on board as an executive producer alongside Peele and J.J. Abrams. The female lead of Lovecraft Country, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, has previously worked with Green on Underground.
1 It could be “unlike anything else on television”
When Misha Green was first hired as showrunner, she said that Lovecraft Country could be “unlike anything else on television.” Everyone says something like this when they start working on a TV project, but the premise certainly sounds intriguing, and it can’t be compared to anything else that’s on the air or has ever been on the air, so she could be right. Green explained, “When I first read Lovecraft Country, I knew it had the potential to be unlike anything else on television. Jordan, J.J., Bad Robot, Warner Bros., and HBO are all in the business of pushing the limits when it comes to storytelling, and I am beyond thrilled to be working with them on this project.”