SXSW 2023: Amazon’s “Swarm” Is Black & Bloody — AND THERE IS SOME LESBIANING GOING ON!

This review of Swarm contains mild spoilers.

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Writing about queer pop culture has given me a pretty great idea of just how far fans will go to support something or someone they love. Folks sending you messages with a screenshot of your address on google maps or writing long Twitter threads picking apart your critique on their work — and all because you didn’t like the t-shirt their fav was wearing in episode four of a TV series. It’s just that sometimes, their excitement and support for an artist go just a tad too far and in Amazon’s Swarm — shit really hits the fan.


That’s all the information SXSW would give when it came to information about the show but guess what I have a little bit more. Dominique Fishback stars in the series as Dre, a 20-something loner with a childlike vibe who is obsessed with two things, a pop star named Ni’Jah and her best friend Marissa. Played by Chloe Bailey, Marissa seems to tolerate Dre more than she loves her. They have that sort of friendship that is left over from their younger days, where you should have been gone your separate ways but stay connected out of obligation or comfort.

Dre needs Marissa, but she needs Ni’Jah even more. She spends hours on her phone, waiting for any news to drop, only listening to her music, and of course, checking social media to see what everyone is saying about her fav. She tweets from a swarm account, think of those profiles folks make dedicated to sharing any and all things about their fav celeb, show, or couple. It’s a way for Dre to stay in the happiness of the past, a time when she and Marissa were actually close, and a time when she first discovered Ni’Jah.

The show was inspired by Beyoncé and her fans, the Beyhive. Creators Donald Glover and Janine Nabers combed through actual headlines, events, and social media and wove them into the script to place Dre into these stories. It’s interesting because it has been said that they expect viewers to watch and attach anyone to the character of Ni’Jah but — ain’t no way you won’t think of Bey. As you watch you’ll see just how ripped from the headlines it is. It’s kinda wild how much the series doesn’t care that it’s using such IRL shit to create this fictional story, but when the source material is so abundant and so good then why not run with it.

Dre eventually takes her love for the singer way too far and I LOVED it. Seeing a Black woman in a role where there is such a sharp descent into madness was beautiful. Dominique Fishback has been and will always be a star, but this role may have solidified what I already knew for others. Dre has a few sides to her and Fishback manages to knock each one out of the park.

Before you ask, yes, there is a hefty scoop of LGBTQing! Kiersey Clemons & Dominique Fishback get to kissing and carrying on and Billie Eilish plays a glossy-eyed queer cult leader. Another queer thing I really dug in relation to Blackness is how throughout the show it’s hinted at by many adults that Dre might be “A little funny”. I grew up hearing that about queer people from many family members and my parent’s friends, it’s just another way to call out the culture in the show to have Black folks watch and know just how much it is for us.

Dykes fall in love with their friends a lot, and some of you have gone very far to prove your love — maybe Dre does the same.

All in all the show is actually pretty good. It takes a turn somewhere in the middle that left me confused and on google for about an hour, but aside from that, I dug it. It was definitely created to start conversations, about Stan culture, Beyoncé, and about friendships. I really can’t wait for the Beyhive to watch and react because for some of the members — the call is coming from inside the house.

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Shelli Nicole

Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-raised, Chicago-based writer. Her work has appeared in Bustle, HelloGiggles & Marie Claire. She is terrified of mermaids and teenagers equally.

Shelli has written 18 articles for us.


  1. I am two episodes in and this shit is fucking wild. I should have expected that given its a Donald Glover production. And Dominique is absolutely brilliant in this role. I hope she doesn’t get overlooked at Awards season. I think if you liked Atlanta, particularly the third and fourth seasons, you will really vibe with this.

  2. I really really loved this series. Anything about fame and Stan culture going too far is right up my street. There still remains a few burning questions for the finale and the state Marissa’s mental health, but it’s still brilliant.
    I’m glad it’s been nominated for a few Emmys ;)

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