Set over ten days in sunny East Compton, Calif., “Them” describes what happens when the Emorys, a black family from North Carolina, move into the blinding white suburb. From the start, they face overwhelming hostility, as the neighbors all camp outside their new home and blow up their radios, sitting in the middle of the street as if they’d rather be hit by a car than have this family. in their neighborhood. . But Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas) and his wife Lucky (Deborah Ayorinde) agree they won’t run anymore, clenching their teeth through the white noise. With Karen Stepfords as Alison Pill’s Betty leading the charge, the neighbors seek to provoke and dehumanize them while maintaining a false joke towards each other. The first episode ends with the white neighbors poisoning their dog, and this disgusting act inspires Lucky to Stand up to them, Henry’s gun in hand. But that only causes the neighbors to turn their disgusting fear into an even more vitriolic hatred.
Each of the Emorys has an arc that could support their own film, but are placed here as an interwoven saga of different descent into madness related to identity and racism. Henry begins his job as an engineer to respond to all types of racist talk at work, while being the only black person in his office. Whenever his silly boss belittles Henry or says something offensive, Henry doesn’t just bite his tongue, he compresses his whole being. He’s already served in WWII and has a proven track record in the field, but he knows his current environment tells him he has to live with it. Henry’s story seems to be the most fleshed out, especially as his rage leads to a relationship with a supernatural figure of unsettling historical relevance.
Henry isn’t the only one seeing supernatural figures, as all of the other Emories have their own interactions with strange beings that reflect their inner turmoil. While dealing with her own trauma (revealed later in the story), Lucky attempts to investigate what happened to the other black families who have moved to the area, all while running through a huge gauntlet of feelings regarding the weft. background which is revealed later. Meanwhile, her 14-year-old daughter Ruby (Shahadi Wright Joseph) doesn’t want to be anything like her mother and faces her own racism at school. Then there’s young Gracie, the youngest and least developed member of the family, who has her own visions at House Emory, linked to a book she learned about.