THEM/THEY, I prefer They/Them as my pronouns.
That’s not what the new Amazon show ‘THEM’ is about, pronouns set aside, it is about the color of your skin. The clear and present structural racism that beset even the most open of all States, California in the 1950’s. The 50’s, ahhhh, how revered those days are often romanticized, clean streets, art deco homes and interior designs, and the clean white couples dressing so neat together making a life of their own, the American Dream. Except no colors allowed.
I knew something was up with THEM when I started episode one last night, getting over my second Pfizer shot’s side effects. Maybe it was that horror like intro, the soundtrack from the movie Us or was it War of the Worlds? Always thought I’d watch a lot of TV if I got the Rhonna (SARS-COVID-19), instead I watch TV because of the vaccine. The irony, just like this show.
Scene 1 opens with a beautiful grand house set alone in a small valley, isolated and tucked away, among a dry brown fields and trees that clearly look to be suffering from water shortage. Not a single other home in sight, likely for miles and miles. Set in the south, where Jim Crow prevailed, a black woman with her young child prepare for breakfast, when their cute white pup alerts THEM to a visitor. An older white woman, weathered and poor, with a strong thick southern accent walks in from down the dirt road, only to sing an eerie slavery song. (Even the poor old white folks hated blacks.) What or why the person was there was yet to be seen, but one could only know; THEM only wanted to be alone and ‘just get along.’ But in those days and now, trouble finds THEM.
Never quite knowing what happens after THEY see that old white woman, we know in our stomach, mine gurgling for my Trader Joes oven dinner, that this old lady and their song was a harbinger of death. A warning, get out and get clear. What fear we could see in the mothers eyes. Even at her door step, even at home, never safe.
THEM abruptly cuts away to THEM traveling long and far to the State of California. Where dreams come true, the golden state. Golden State, named for the abundance of gold once being here, not for the sunsets!
Soon we see THEM traveling into LA, Los Angeles, where at the time, white people where still 9/10’s of the population. 9/10’s. For you hsitorian’s, that’s what a black person was considered 9/10 of a person.
Arrival to Compton, where all of us know now in context, that this City was at one time predominantly black, now to most not knowing, the hispanic gangs have pushed out a lot of the black families. It’s problem that doesn’t make headlines, like the Kardashian’s social media blunder. However, in the 1950’s, it was white. All white. I mean white cake, white shoes, and God dammit, white sidewalks. At least that’s what the show was portraying. The houses were new, the kind you see in the classic magazines, track homes built for a white family, I must add green, all so ever green manicured lawns.
The neighborhood adorned with white families just living in the moment, stared and googled as THEY arrived. In plain day light, not in the dark of the night, Californian’s showed their true side, no colors allowed. ‘Clear as Day’ as THEY say.
While black and browns, and the AAPI fight the hidden structural racism today, marching down the streets, only to be thrown in jail, fighting the deep undertones of racism except when called upon by a President, rid and pillage the Capital. In the grand 1950’s, it was open season, enforceable by any and all legal means possible, except no lynching. I have several more creepy episodes to go, but one could see, at least I could see…as awake from my second day after the vaccine…
The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.