'Lovecraft Country' Episode 1: Sundown towns' true story has fans wondering how racial practice 'still exists'

Atticus must find out what happened to his father during a Jim Crows America where simply stepping out as a Black man is a crime in predominantly White towns


                            'Lovecraft Country' Episode 1: Sundown towns' true story has fans wondering how racial practice 'still exists'
(HBO)

Spoilers for 'Lovecraft Country' Episode 1

In his book 'Lovecraft Country', Matt Ruff aims at reclaiming this creative liberty over Lovecraftian pulp horror through the story of Atticus Freeman, a sci-fi nerd, navigating the streets of a 50's Segregation Era America to kill monsters and find his family. Interestingly enough, Ruff's real-world racial horror explores more than HP Lovecraft's racist fear that led him to label Black people as "beasts" and "semi humans" ever did. And that brings us to the pilot, wherein many were introduced to the concept of the titular "Sundown" referring to "sundown town" or "sunset town" - learning of which has fans labeling White people worse than Lovecraftian monsters.

The pilot mostly revolves around the nerdy Atticus who must find out what happened to his father during a Jim Crows America where simply stepping out as a Black man is a crime in predominantly White towns. So when Atticus, his friend Letitia, and Uncle George team up to drive around after sundown, a cop creeps up to them. It's an unsettling scene altogether, but the cop alarms the three voyagers that it's illegal for Black people to move around freely after sundown, and they could even be killed on sight. And that is exactly what the term "sundown town" stands for. 

A practice that started primarily in the mid-80s, following the end of the Reconstruction Era, these sundown towns would originate from the concept of strictly White neighborhoods, wherein through intimidation and brash force and bullying, Black people weren't allowed to stay. In that, they weren't even allowed to be within the premises of the town post sundown and Ruff's novel turned Misha Green helmed series to highlight the same by asserting just how risky and dangerous it was to not be White back in the day. In his book, 'Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism', sociologist James W Loewen has detailed how any Black individual present in these wildly common. Sundown towns were subject to harassment, threats and violence, including lynching. The book from 2005 also mentions that some of these towns were still active at the time of release.

Coming across this harrowing reality not all that long ago has been challenging for many viewers. "LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: proof that white people are scarier than shoggoths," Tweeted a fan, referring to the giant behemoth monsters that tore of its own limbs in Lovecraftian lores. 



 

"I wonder at the experience of white people who thought racism ended at the Mason-Dixon Line watching LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. And the number of them scrambling to google 'sundown town'," tweeted another at the premiere.



 

"Much like Watchmen was a lot of people's first exposure to Tulsa, I would not be surprised if tonight's Lovecraft Country was a lot of people's first exposure to Sundown Towns," wrote another.



 

Another fan wrote: "Oh, geez. It occurs to me that I only learned about sundown towns because of the Lovecraft Country book. I don’t even know if I can call it ironic that it’s going to be the same introduction for most of white America." 



 

Another resonated, "Friendly Advisory: Even though the first episode of Lovecraft Country was set in the 50’s, there are still many active “Sundown Towns” in our glorious nation today. Stay woke." 



 

And a striking point made, as tweeted by another viewer, was: "The really sad thing about Lovecraft Country is that if you live in certain parts of the south you know that sundown towns still exist TODAY." 



 

'Lovecraft Country' airs on Sundays at 9 pm only on HBO.

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