TV Series ‘Them’ Sparks Controversy

Adam Bear, Staff Writer

With the sheer volume of new TV shows that come out every year, it is rare that one sparks as much conversation as Amazon Prime’s new anthology series ‘Them.’ Since the trailer for the first season, subtitled ‘Covenant,’ was released, many viewers have taken to social media to express their frustration. The show looked like yet another piece of media that dramatizes Black pain. Many viewers also noted that the executive producer of ‘Them,’ Lena Waithe, has a history with graphic depictions of Black suffering.

Once ‘Them’ actually released, more people began expressing frustration. Although white characters are subject to violence in the show, many people have noticed that scenes of white pain are generally short and generally consist of cartoonish horror-movie violence. Contrastingly, scenes where Black characters are subject to violence and pain, are usually much more realistic, and the scenes last for much longer.

A major criticism of ‘Them’ is that it is “torture porn,”—meaning it has gratuitous scenes of pain to profit from white guilt and Black trauma. Another criticism is that the violence found in ‘Them’ is unnecessary to its plot. ‘Them’ is, in essence, an allegory for racism and oppression, not a literal depiction of how it works in the real world.

Why, then, critics ask, must the show have such realistic scenes of violence? They do not contribute to the allegory, and so they seem unnecessary and only placed there, once again, as “torture porn.”