Dre and Marissa in the pilot episode of Swarm (Dominque Fishback and Chloe Bailey)
A deep plunge into an outcasts’ descent into darkness.
What a heart wrenching experience. A tragic tale about loss, identity, and obsession. If you like surreal, thought provoking character explorations with a bloodthirsty twist, then definitely check out Swarm.
The aptly titled Swarm is fiction based on real life events, a dark comedy horror series a little too close to reality. The series is complex and introspective, covering the modern day dangers of social media, mob mentality, and losing yourself in pursuit of the things you love. The show draws inspiration from true crime serial killer tapes, Scorsese’s iconic Taxi Driver, and every Jordan Peele movie.
Dre at the end of pilot episode "Stung" of Swarm
The series created by Donald Glover and Janine Nabers features striking neon compositions, bizarre nightmarish sequences, and an eerie sense of dread throughout each of its seven episodes.
We follow Dre down her fall from grace as she loses herself deeper and deeper into the eye of the swarm. Dre’s ultimate destination is front row seats to meet her idol, pop superstar Ni’Jah live in concert.
Dre’s entire life revolves around her sister Marissa and their shared love for Ni’Jah. Things often taken a dark turn when Dre confronts people that disrespect either of them. Everything Dre does is in service to this obsession; she is a worker bee ready to throw away her own life to sting those that oppose her queens. Swarm constantly amps up that insect imagery with Dre’s camouflage into different personas and insatiable search for sustenance.
Nest of bees from Swarm
To me, Swarm is a moving portrayal of the duality of life.
Dre lives in her own world so her fantasies often clash with reality and we're left with these mesmerizing dream-like experiences. It's beautiful but also deeply sad when reality hits like a mountain of maggots. She copes with loss and isolation in the only way she knows how, through denial, distraction, and idolization. I'm sure many of us can relate to her feelings. Yet, no amount of pleasure can override unresolved pain and the future only arrives after accepting the past and leaving it behind.
Dre shows us that to truly experience the good, you have to come to terms with the bad. One cannot exist without the symmetry of the other. Life is a balanced scale, and too much blind love can quickly distort into burning hatred.
Still from Ni'Jah music video in Swarm (Nirine S. Brown) Love and hate, pain and pleasure are the outstretched wings of the same butterfly. So take flight. Film and television are mediums that allow you to live life in another person’s skin. To see and feel in ways you couldn’t otherwise imagine. Swarm is one of those series where you feel like you spent a lifetime in Dre’s world. It's definitely worth a visit.
Swarm showed me that moving forward means living life acknowledging the full breadth of your feelings and letting them guide you. That our identity and goals must change over time, untethered to past trauma. You are more than just the things you like, the people you meet, and the things that happened to you. Metamorphosis is an unavoidable part of the ephemeral experience we call life.