The one factor that scares Lovecraft Nation Creator Misha Inexperienced is to play it secure
Misha Green finds new ways to scare viewers with each episode of Lovecraft Country – from haunted houses to demonic twins – but the creator herself isn't so easily scared. "I'm very rarely scared," says Green. Well, aside from one thing, "I think stasis scares me: the idea of not growing, not challenging yourself, not being surprised."
Certainly no one who has watched Lovecraft Country is going to accuse Green, Adweek's Game Changer of the Year, of failing to challenge himself. Each episode of their HBO series, based on the 2016 novel Matt Ruff, about two intertwined black families in the 1950s, Jim Crow America fighting racism while grappling with myriad supernatural horrors, swings around the fences. One episode takes the audience on a lavish journey through space and time, another tells the story of a South Korean nurse obsessed with a "kumiho", and some of them feature some of the scariest creatures you have ever met.
In short, it's exactly the kind of incredibly ambitious show that Green put on with HBO from the start. "I said, 'I want to grow up, I want to be epic, I want to take what Matt Ruff did in the novel and try to reclaim space for people of color who were usually left out," he tells Green . "This is one of the reasons we got it on HBO because we wanted it to feel like a movie in every episode."
A lifelong horror fanatic, Green immediately sparked Ruff's novel. “As a huge fan of the genre, this stuff was the easy part for me. I can literally say, "Here are 20 different things we can do with our ghost story" because the genre is my favorite, "she explains.
She used the book as inspiration for the season – "every chapter has its own feel," she says – and packed each episode with enough twists and character development to fill entire seasons of other shows. "I watch TV and enjoy it because then sometimes I like, wow, we see the same scene 20 times in one episode. What are you waiting for?" Green says.
Lovecraft Country is Green's second show as a creator after Underground, WGN America's critically acclaimed drama about the Underground Railroad she helped create, which debuted in 2016 and ran for two seasons. That series gave her "the confidence to blend genres by using historical pieces with genre elements," says Green, who had previously written for Sons of Anarchy and Heroes. "Underground was basically a robbery thriller."
As with Underground, Green added modern music to the Lovecraft Country soundtrack, using songs by Marilyn Manson, Rihanna and Cardi B because "a lot of what we do in Lovecraft Country is now," she says. But she improved her playing by including spoken word tracks after taking inspiration from its use in Beyoncé's Lemonade and the 2016 James Baldwin documentary, I Am Not Your Negro. The third installment in the series begins with the audio of a 2017 Nike ad for the gender equality campaign celebrating Vogue legend Leiomy Maldonado, an icon of the New York ballroom scene, with a narration by Precious Angel Ramirez. "When I saw that Nike commercial, I felt something," says Green, who blamed the place for breaking down ballroom culture and "bringing the heart to the mainstream" – a feeling they repeat on their own show wanted to.
As the season progressed, even HBO was discouraged by Lovecraft's immense scale. "They said," We're so excited about a really big show, "and then about halfway through they said," This is a really big show! "Recalls Green." I said, "Yeah, and we're halfway there so we might as well keep moving!"