A pop star's killer fan runs amok in 'Swarm.' Why it's 'not a work of fiction'

Sonaiya Kelley, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Prime Video's "Swarm," from Donald Glover and "Atlanta" scribe Janine Nabers, focuses on the dangers of stan culture, obsessive fandoms and being chronically online.

The limited series, now streaming, stars Dominique Fishback as Dre, a a member of the "Killer Bees," a fandom that may call to mind a certain other Beyhive.

After a tragic accident leaves her alone in the world, Dre develops a taste for murder and drives across the country to be closer to the object of her affection, the pop star Ni'Jah (an obvious stand-in for Beyoncé). Many of the events depicted, from pop culture scandals involving star-studded elevator brawls to splashy, ripped-from-the-headlines murders — are based on true events that took place in the 2010s.

"We did research for months to basically find events within a two-and-a-half year period that we could put our main character into," said Nabers. "So it's really not a work of fiction. We've taken real internet rumors, real murders and combined them in the narrative of our main character, Dre. Not much of it is fabricated."

The L.A. Times caught up with Nabers and Fishback to discuss that improbable ending.

Q: What does Ni'Jah represent for Dre?


Janine Nabers: Ni'Jah represents a sense of purpose, a sense of acceptance. And I think she represents Dre. They come from the same neighborhood, the same city, both Black women, they have their very particular relationships with their sisters. There's like a parallel track in a lot of ways with these characters. So the fact that she identifies with this woman so much and looks to her as this kind of godlike figure gives Dre meaning and a sense of understanding.

Dominique Fishback: Ni'Jah represents somebody who happens to have the language and ability to express it in a way that Dre felt heard. And then meeting Marissa, to find somebody that equally loves this person as much as she did, it just solidified that relationship. She's hope, beauty and independence.

[Warning: Spoilers about key plot points of "Swarm" follow.]

Q: Where do you think Dre's bloodlust comes from?


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