We’ve all been around enough to know that fandoms nowadays can get crazy. Almost dangerous even. The stan culture is alive and well, but there’s an insidiousness that the internet has stoked and encouraged. For some fans, these celebrities and properties are their life. It’s the thing that keeps them going day in and day out. But what happens when this love and devotion turns to murder? This question is explored in Janine Nabers’ and Donald Glover’s latest series, SWARM.
Between 2016 and 2018, SWARM follows Dre (Dominique Fishback), a young person obsessed with the world’s biggest popstar who will remind of pop sensation, Beyonce. After a series of traumatizing events, Dre quickly takes this obsession too far and goes on a journey of destruction and self-discovery in the process.
A fascinating character study, Dominique Fishback crafts an engaging performance in her assumption of Dre. You can’t look away even when you know the humming of bees signifies someone’s end is near. Fishback crafts a multifaceted character here, with the emotions and physicality of the character easily changing to fit what gets thrown. If you weren’t paying attention to Fishback before, you really should.
When a worker becomes queen
While the story itself has its bumps, with some edit and logic choices that don’t help it in execution, the audience joins Dre on this journey of self-discovery. Along the way, we begin to piece together the reasons why their life has taken such a tragically bloody turn. The writing from Nabers and Glover keeps the audience on their toes. Full of twists and turns, we can’t reasonably predict what’ll happen.
There is a rhythm to each episode until we hit Episode 6. Episode 6 is jarring, which ends up throwing off the flow of the story. It also takes the viewer out before they’ve finished the series. If Episode 6 and Episode 7 were flipped, it would make more sense with the structure that had already been pre-established. The twist at the end of Episode 6 would have also landed stronger.
The look and feel of the show are aesthetically pleasing. As Dre moves from city to city, we see each setting take on new life. Everyone they meet along the way fits the vibe of the location. From cultists to strippers to LA fitness gays, we watch as Dre adapts and everyone around her is just set dressing. They all have their role to play in Dre’s crazy reality. Keep your eye out for some surprising celebrity cameos. A huge shout-out needs to be given to all the below-the-line departments here. From location to production design, hair, makeup, and costume design, all of it was executed well.
The hook of SWARM
With seven episodes clocking in at around 30-35 minutes each, this series will be a quick binge, even despite the final two episodes reading as jarring. At the center of SWARM is the true queen bee, Dre. A tragically damnable character fueled by a singular motivation in their actions, Fishback’s portrayal of Dre provides the lure that will keep viewers hooked.
As a general head’s up for anyone who needs it, here are the trigger warnings. Trigger warnings need to be mentioned for suicide and self-harm. I’d also argue potential ED-related triggers. If you’re averse to nudity and sex, SWARM is likely not going to be for you.
All seven episodes of SWARM will be available exclusively on Prime Video on March 17, 2023.
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