‘Lovecraft Country,’ another Atlanta-produced HBO series, receiving great reviews

Jonathan Majors, left, and Courtney B. Vance in "Lovecraft Country." (Elizabeth Morris/HBO/TNS)
Jonathan Majors, left, and Courtney B. Vance in "Lovecraft Country." (Elizabeth Morris/HBO/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

This follows last year's Emmy-nominated 'Watchmen.'

“Lovecraft Country,” which debuted Sunday, is the latest HBO drama shot in Georgia to receive strong reviews.

While some of the show was shot in Chicago, where the series begins, and other parts of Illinois, “Lovecraft Country” also spent plenty of time last year around metro Atlanta and Macon. Its home base for interiors was Atlanta’s Blackhall Studios.

The series, based on the 2016 Matt Ruff book “Lovecraft Country,” is a mix of race, horror, history and intrigue, using monsters as metaphors. . Season one stars three main characters, including Korean War vet Atticus (Jonathan Majors) seeking to find his missing father, Montrose (Michael K. Williams). He goes on a road trip with his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance), and childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett).

They end up facing no shortage of obstacles, both real (racist cops) and fantastical (putrid dog-like shoggoths, courtesy of writer H.P. Lovecraft), in this era of Jim Crow 1950s.

On RottenTomatoes, among 58 reviews, 57 were positive, or 97 percent. As of Sunday evening, about 83 percent of users liked the series as well. On Metacritic, the show received a 79 out of 100, with 25 positive reviews, seven mixed ones, and no negative ones.

Here’s a sampling of praise, which largely focused on the show’s ambition and originality and is based on the first five episodes made available to critics:

  • “The creativity on display is phenomenal, with writing that’s layered with meanings and allusions, acting that brings the kind of emotional grounding you don’t always find in genre stories, and visual realizations that are stunning.” – Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe
  • “It’s pulp fiction by way of the 1619 Project, where America’s original sin might simultaneously be slavery and a ritual blood sacrifice with the potential to open up a portal to another dimension.” – Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
  • “That H.P. Lovecraft — troubled, imaginative, racist — should inspire a book and a series that centers Black characters, and that expressly uses his own creations to flesh out the inner lives he denied them in his own work, was not something he could have imagined.” – Glen Weldon, NPR
  • “The series continuously shapeshifts in episodic fashion, starting with a road trip, then a haunted-house story, an Indiana Jones-esque hunt for treasure buried beneath a museum, and more, each equally manic and, at times nearing absurdity. It’s a series perfectly suited for the madness that has been the year 2020.” – Tambay Obenson, Indie Wire

To be fair, the critic at The Atlantic’s Hannah Giorgis found the allegories simplistic, as the show in its first five episodes “spends so much time focusing on its white characters’ near-comic monstrousness that it undercuts the development of its Black leads.”

"Lovecraft Country" was shot in metro Atlanta.
"Lovecraft Country" was shot in metro Atlanta.

Credit: HBO

Credit: HBO

HBO, for many years, ignored Georgia as a place to shoot anything. But the siren call of the state’s generous tax credits and more available studio space made it easier for the company to finally embrace the state.

In 2018, HBO shot part of its Emmy-nominated series “Sharp Objects” starring Amy Adams and last year, HBO featured the limited dramatic series “Watchmen,” which received 26 Emmy nominations this year, more than any other program. That series, too, tackled race and cops and Black American history in its own grandiose, sometimes bizarre way. It was largely produced in Georgia. Interiors were shot at Atlanta Metro Studios in Union City and exteriors were all over the place, from Decatur to Cedartown.

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