What is SWARM?


Cooper Milliken

On the 24th, the trailer for the new Amazon Prime original series SWARM was released and…it’s confusing to say the least.The show was created by writer/producer Janine Nabers and actor/writer/director/producer Donald Glover. Glover is known as the creator and lead in the television series Atlanta which won several Emmy awards in its four season run while Nabers is better known as a producer and writer on multiple television programs such as the previously mentioned Atlanta, but also HBO’s Watchmen, Apple TV’s Roar, and the Netflix series Away. I, of course, was interested in the show as Glover’s name was attached to the project, and after watching the trailer I’m more intrigued than ever. 

The most we know about the series are the creators (Glover and Nabers), the series’ cast (including as our lead Dominique Fishback, Damson Idris, and Chloe Bailey), where and when it’ll be available to stream, a couple of posters, and a plot synopsis. Admittedly yes, this sounds like a lot, but when you consider that the plot synopsis is simply a sentence and the trailer includes little context (outside of what “The Swarm” is in context of the show), things become even more confusing. 

SWARM is described as the story of “An obsessed, Houston-based fan who goes to increasingly violent lengths for her favorite R&B singer.” Again, that’s not very much to work off of and the most context it adds is that the show probably takes place in Houston, Texas. We know very little about SWARM, but I think that’s the main reason I’m excited for it. The trailer is very cryptic, the details are scarce, and it all just feels like a big mystery to solve. 

Glover has always been great at crafting a strong sense of mystery and ambiguity. Atlanta had many unanswered questions by the end of its run, and actually created more with its final episode. Glover has been quoted as saying that he loves endings, but he can tend to put an end to a project without providing his audience with any answers. This isn’t a detriment to his work, as it creates more interest and discourse amongst the audience, but it also prepares those following his work to be confused on whatever he has coming out next. Nabers has a similar track record with her work as the ending of HBO’s Watchmen was left to interpretation and the two episodes of Atlanta that she has lead writing credit on were…weird to say the least (if you’re wondering these are episodes Sinterklaass Is Coming To Town (3.2) and Work Ethic! (4.5)). 

So, I have a feeling SWARM from the start will be no different, but I doubt the show will be anything like Atlanta. I have this feeling that the show will be much more serialized than episodic. Many of Atlanta’s episodes are one and done stories that have plot elements that are rarely brought up again. Meanwhile, Nabers’ work consists of season long spanning stories that are all much like chapters in a book. With the way that SWARM sets itself up as a descent into madness, I think the show will have the weirdness of Atlanta, but the overarching story structure of something like Watchmen.  With this though it heavily differentiates itself from Atlanta which I believe was the purpose from the start as Atlanta was a comedy/drama while SWARM is described as a horror show (the trailer even features our lead mopping up an extremely large puddle of blood). 

Although, does all of this really answer the question of what SWARM is? I mean, yes, it adds context to SWARM setting it up as an Amazon Prime Original Horror Series created by Donald Glover and Janine Nabers, starring Dominique Fishback. Although, does adding context give much to answer what this show is? Like, what’s so important about SWARM to where I’m writing an entire article on the show? Well, I think SWARM is going to be the best show of the year. I think it’s going to be an intense, interesting, and insightful look at parasocial relationships, obsession, and what it means to be a part of “The Swarm”. I think SWARM is going to have a cultural impact much larger than what Atlanta had, but I also have a feeling that many people won’t like it as much as Atlanta. SWARM is likely going to be cynical, disturbing, and make the audience face truths about themselves and their communities that they don’t want to face. In this way I think it’s going to be very similar to the controversial Atlanta Season 3. People are going to call it “pretentious” and “divisive” although in reality SWARM is likely going to be as important as HBO’s Watchmen and Atlanta, but also likely better than both. 

Do I have extremely high expectations for this series? Yes. Am I going to be wrong about the impact and importance of this show? Probably not, but you never know. This series may be a little less Jordan Peele and a little more William Crain, but that’ll all be decided on March 17th, 2023 when the first episode of SWARM comes out on Amazon Prime.