Them is a 2021 Amazon original series.
0 out of 10 stars. This was much too violent for regular viewing. There used to be an X rating so people could avoid this type of film. Where’d that go?
The backstory for this series is that the Emory family in 1953 moved from North Carolina to the Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles, California after their infant son was murdered by their racist neighbors. None of this is really shown, so already the plot is a bit vague and confusing. The episodes are numbered by days and are supposedly the 10 days of terror they were subjected to by their Compton neighbors.
Episode 1: Day 1 Covenant
The Emory family moves to Compton, but Henry doesn’t tell his wife Livia that there’s a covenant attached to the sale of the house. That covenant explicitly forbids the house to be sold to anyone with Negro blood. The realtor assures them that covenants are not enforceable. The question is by whom? Because the neighbors take it upon themselves to enforce that covenant by terrorizing the Emorys and their two daughters Ruby and Gracie.
On the first day there, the white neighbor across the street calls all her PTA friends and they sit outside the Emory house on the street staring at them all day and playing loud racist music. When Livia walks Ruby and Gracie to the bus stop for school, the kids whisper and taunt the girls, but Livia lets them go to school anyway. And we can only imagine what is waiting for those two girls at school.
Meanwhile Henry starts his first day of work as an engineer, but the white receptionist refuses to show him where Engineering is.
At the end of this very long day for both of them, the white women pack up their chairs and go home, leaving their husbands in charge of the night’s festivities. The men agree they will begin by killing the Emory’s dog Sergeant who is a tiny terrier. They break into the house to do it, break the dog’s neck, and leave him dead in the basement for the children to find. They hang his collar on the doorknob, proving they were inside the house to further terrorize the Emory’s.
In a scene that was somewhat confusing, Gracie wakes in the middle of the night to see a tall thin apparition in their kitchen. Which hints at the house possibly being haunted. In the morning, Gracie wakes with burns around her neck from the apparition strangling her.
So, let’s talk about reality. This type of thing did happen and still happens to renters across the United States. Banks, corporations, realtors, and slumlords hire people called ringers to terrorize tenants into moving so they can either sell the property, bring in higher paying renters, or otherwise remove people they deem undesirable like people of color and the elderly. They’ve been doing this since the 1970s and since most judges and lawyers are slumlords, they are rarely prosecuted. And killing pets is one of their favorite tactics to get people to move because the police view pet death as “accidental” and “non-prosecutable”. Prosecution is expensive and even if they win, the ringer gets a fine, not a prison sentence.
From 2009 to about 2016 there was a series of articles in newspapers across the Pacific Northwest on this very topic. The one I remember was a first hand account from a Portland, Oregon blogger whose neighbor was terrorized by their landlords. The complex was called Oswego Point and this elderly woman had lived in the complex before it was sold to a foreign corporation that was owned by Saudis. So she was protected from huge rent hikes and numerous restrictions put on tenants. Well, the Saudis wanted her out. First, they broke her dog’s legs and it was a small dog. When she didn’t move, they killed it. While she was grief stricken, they trumped up a bogus reason for evicting her and sent her a summons that she missed. She was evicted less than a month later, proving that eviction laws in this country are unlawful. This didn’t happen in 1953. This happened in the 2010’s.
The blogger identified several of the staff at Oswego Point as former convicted felons. These were serious criminals. One of the staff, who was married to a black woman, posted a photo of their black daughter who was about three years old, in a dog’s cage. This was apparently some form of punishment and he laughed about it with a very inappropriate racist caption. Keep in mind, this was an employee, a staff member who interacted with tenants daily. When you stand by and watch people commit these acts of cruelty, you are as guilty as the person who committed them.
0 out of 10 stars. This was much too much violence and it was graphic. I don’t want my family watching this. No one should. In the context of racism, only documentaries should contain this type of content.