TV Features

"Lovecraft Country" Reminds Us That Magick Is as Real as We Believe It Is

One of the ideas explored by HBO's Lovecraft Country was the meta-boundary between fiction and reality—not only for the characters of the show, but also for us, the viewers.

The show (which is based on a book called Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff) finds Tic, his love Leti, and his father Montrose contending with the storyline of an autobiographical book (also called Lovecraft Country) written by Tic and Leti's future son.

One of the earliest episodes mentions the Necronomicon, an infamous book of magic featured in H.P. Lovecraft's fiction stories. This is an acknowledgement of the 100-year-old Lovecraftian world of antediluvian terrors.

But the way Lovecraft Country introduces the esoteric arts is very much aligned with real history. Magickal lodges with secret initiations exist. Voodoo priestesses exist. Korean shamans, called mudang 무당, exist and even influence top-level politicians. Lovecraft Country and HP Lovecraft''s legacy constantly interrogates the boundaries between fiction and reality, asking readers to question their own realities as well as their capabilities to create their own worlds or influence them through stories.
Keep ReadingShow less
Culture Feature

The Real-Life Magic of "Lovecraft Country": Interview with a Korean Shaman

There is a growing movement to reclaim indigenous Korean culture, which has normalized the role of mudangs in Korean society.

South Korean Female Shaman

Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun, Shutterstock

HBO's Lovecraft Country recently introduced mainstream America to a witchy Korean character called a "mudang."

This is not fiction, however; mudang is a real title given to real spiritual practitioners who are in high-demand in South Korea and the Korean diaspora community. The mudang depicted in Lovecraft Country is a pale comparison to real-life mudangs today. Who knows if the producers of the show even knew that mudangs were real (although plenty of people in Hollywood are aware, and some are even starting to consult with mudangs like Jennifer)?

Keep ReadingShow less
Culture Feature

Jurnee Smollett Speaks Out on Brother, Jussie, and the Challenges of Being a Black Woman in Hollywood

The Lovecraft Country star has had to learn to stand up for herself, and is sticking by her brother.

Jurnee Smollett Lovecraft Country


Next week Lovecraft Country will be premiering on HBO.

The highly anticipated sci-fi/horror series set in the Jim Crow era of 1950s America—produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams—is already creating a lot of buzz, and Jurnee Smollett's Letitia Lewis may prove to be the breakout role that she has long deserved.

She's been acting professionally since she was too young to walk—if diaper commercials count—but as she noted in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she has avoided taking roles that she sees as degrading or objectifying. Sadly, as a Black woman in Hollywood, that has severely limited the amount of work she's gotten over the years.

Keep ReadingShow less

Jordan Peele has made a name for himself for telling the story of the black experience in America with the atmosphere of tragicomic psychological horror it deserves.

But if there's one thing that movies like Us and Get Out lack, it's the incursion of eldritch horrors from realms beyond our perception. That's where J.J. Abrams of Lost and Cloverfield can help out with Peele's new project for HBO, Lovecraft Country. Based on Matt Ruff's 2017 novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country tells the story of Atticus Black, a young black man living in the Jim Crow 1950s, who needs to travel to a dangerous region of America—the titular Lovecraft Country—to track down his missing father.

Keep ReadingShow less