Donald Grover strikes back with yet another comical-edged psychological horror thriller, “Swarm” (2023), following up his classic in the same genre, ‘Atlanta,’ this time partnered with Janine Nabers, another talented American playwright. Swarm is set to stream on March 17, 2023, on Amazon Prime Video. The plot mainly revolves around a young woman whose obsession with a pop star drives her into dingy situations. As per the embodiment, it seems it was intended to portray pop star Beyoncé, a music sensation. The series is a perfect mix of black comedy and drama backed by intense suspense, including psychological serial killing and intensifying erotic scenes.
“Swarm” was created by Glover and Janine with the aim of creating an anti-hero story taking inspiration from the famous fictional characters Tony Soprano and Don Draper, binding his comparison with the erotic psychological drama “Piano Teacher” and the satirical crime film “The King of Comedy.” Malia Obama, daughter of the ex-President of the United States, Barack Obama, is also among the top contributors as a writer in this series. Other writers include Karen Joseph Adcock, Kara Brown, Stephen Glover, Ibra Ake, and Jamal Olori. Donald McKinley Glover Jr., who is also popular as Childish Gambino, is a multi talented personality who has exhibited his expertise in several fields over the years, including acting, singing, directing, as well as producing.
Glover started his career as a writer for the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” at the age of 23 when he was hired by Tina Fey, another notable writer at NBC. He later went on to write other film classics like “Mystery Team” (2009), “Clapping for the Wrong Reasons” (2013), and “Guava Island” (2019) and television series like “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (1993-2009), “CollegeHumor Originals,” “Awkward Black Girl” (2011-2013), Ultimate Spider-Man” (2012-2017), and many more. He has acted in most of them, even producing music for Guava Island. He has even entertained the world with numerous music videos. He was rightly partnered by Janine, who happens to be a playwright as well as a librettist. She was also a two-time Lila Acheson Wallace fellow at The Juilliard School and has won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series once.
The series mainly entails Dre (beautifully enacted by the very deserving Dominique Fishback), the young woman who is way too obsessed with pop star Ni’Jah (a stand-in for Beyonce). Fishback is an American actress who is best known for her roles as Billie Rowan in “Show Me a Hero” (2015), Darlene in “The Deuce,” and Deborah in “Judas and the Black Messiah” (2021), for which she earned a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The recurring star cast also includes Chloe Bailey, a singer, and actress in real life, as well as Marissa “Ris” Jackson, who happens to be Dre’s sister in the series. Chloe’s other notable works include “Beyoncé: Lemonade,” “The Georgetown Project,” “Grownish” (2018–22), “Last Holiday,” etc. Nirine S. Brown, famous for “White Boy Brown” (2010), “Sprinter” (2018), and “Shepherd” (2023), has played the role of Ni’Jah, the pop star Dre idolized, and Karen Rodriguez has portrayed the role of Erica, Dre’s friend. Other guest appearances include Damson Idris as Khalid, Marissa’s boyfriend; Atkins Estimond as Reggie; and Kiersey Clemons as Rashida, a college student with whom Dre happens to fall in love. However, the most talked-about cameo that steals the spotlight is that of Billie Eilish, who played the role of Eva, a women’s empowerment cult leader who takes Dre under her banner. This is her first work in the television department. Eilish is a well-known singer who has bagged huge ovations, including seven Grammy Awards, six MTV Video Music Awards, and three Billboard Music Awards, among other awards, at an early age! She won the Grammy for Best Original Song for “No Time to Die,” which is the title track of James Bond’s movie. Her music, like “Lovely,” “Bad Guy,” “Ocean Eyes,” and “Happier Than Ever,” is enjoyed by all and critically acclaimed all over the world.
Dominique Fishback As Dre
Dre is the protagonist of the series, a young, socially awkward woman who is madly obsessed with a fictional pop musician named Ni’Jah (Nirine S. Brown). This series has a captivating and timely theory that conforms to the toxicity of social media and fan-based infatuation with the celebrity. And Dre will represent these burning issues through her gooey and ghostly nature. She has a loving nature, and she is very picky about people. She loves her step sister Marissa the most. In the first episode, it is shown that she truly cares about her sister and is way too protective of her. After years of bonding over their profound love of Ni’Jah’s melodies and a Twitter fan account, the thriller arrives at that juncture in their lives when it’s abundantly obvious that the bonding hasn’t been sound for both Dre and Marissa. Dre’s silence is infinitely more complex and difficult than her being a booming psychopath. Dre’s murderous rampage started after her sister attempted suicide due to a breakup and other personal fights. She started blitzing the people who were not fans of Ni’Jah Queen. From a harmless die-hard fan to a reckless felon, Dre sniffs out all the online critics and haters. In the beginning, she was considered a voiceless character who eventually turned into a noise in the world of pop music. The violent, leading character finally accepts her sexuality by the end of the series when she falls for Rashida. Though it seemed like she had changed into a better person, Rashida still had a keen disliking for the pop singer Ni’Jah. But instincts that are powerfully built cannot be destroyed in seconds. Driven by a bad temper, Dre mercilessly slaughters her girlfriend and a few other people just to attend the concert she had dreamed of since childhood. This outrageous character only breathes into the world of music and loses her sanity over the stan culture, promising the audience a creepy, bloody, and terrifying peripeteia with psychological corpus.
Chloe Bailey As Marissa
Marissa is not only a sister but a best friend to Dre, and the two of them share the same apartment. When the two are together, there are giggles, waves of laughter, love, and companionship that truly define a sisterhood. Marissa is a promising character who has many adult responsibilities to follow rather than cyberstalking social media pages like Dre. She is juggling her career as a make-up artist and has a partner, but she is constantly fighting her own deepest fears and anxieties before she departs for her heavenly abode, leaving Dre midway.
Nirine S. Brown As Ni’Jah
Ni’Jah has no discrete role on screen, but she is definitely the prime moving force that always exists in the background. She is the imaginary superstar of Dre’s life and is extremely devoted to her music career, as well as to her fan page ‘Swarm.’ Ni’Jah symbolizes a feeling of guidance and approval in the series. Both black women have few similarities as they belong to the same dimensional society and city, sharing many parallel paths over the screen and in reality. Because of Dominique Fishback’s commitment to every attribute of Dre, the saga’s humor is gut-wrenching and intriguing in every bit. Ni’Jah’s portrayal is mirrored through Dre’s character, where she feels seen, loved, and listened to. Dre carries enough love and hate inside her to finally caramelize with Ni’Jah’s love, elegance, and individuality in the end. Maybe this character is omniscient throughout, but the way Ni’Jah represents a sense of sympathy and affection toward Dre clearly reminds the audience of Marissa, the angelic figure!
Billie Eilish As Eva
The famous American singer Billie makes a remarkable appearance in her first on-screen acting performance. Eva is a quiet and inquisitive character with whom Dre crosses paths while traveling to the jazz festival (Episode 4). Though Eva offers a free concert ticket to Dre, her shady lifestyle endangers Dre’s desire to stand in the front row at Ni’Jah’s concert. She demonstrates her capacity to turn her own star existence in a graceful manner while similarly enforcing thrust as a cult leader that would be discovered by Dre soon.