Swarm Examines the Dangerously Thin Line Between Fandom and Fanaticism

Amazon Prime’s new show takes "stan" culture to a whole new level.

By Shelby Stewart April 12, 2023

Dominique Fishback plays "Dre" in Swarm

Image: Prime Video

How far would you go to see Beyoncé in concert? That’s the provocative question posed in Amazon Prime’s new horror/comedy series Swarm, created by Donald Glover and Houston's Janine Nabers of Atlanta fame. For Dre (Dominique Fishback) who desperately wants to see her hero Ni’Jah (a Houston superstar loosely based on Queen Bey) in concert, the answer is: much further than she should.

It’s a compelling premise. There are, after all, very few fandoms that can compare to Queen Bey’s. Dre's devotion to Ni'Jah drives many of the story lines in Swarm, placing her in some interesting predicaments (spoilers ahead): joining a cult, sneaking into an after party, and killing random Twitter users who dare direct their tweets against Ni’Jah.

One of the other prominent driving forces in Swarm? The city itself. “The idea was to really solidify Houston as a character in this story,” Nabers told Texas Highways. “It’s the base for who this woman is. It’s the foundation of where she comes from. It’s where the artist that she’s obsessed with also comes from. The pilot was shot in Los Angeles. There’s obviously a different energy in LA than Houston, but there’s a lot of similarities. In Swarm, we wanted to mash that up with this Southern aesthetic and give it a metropolitan vibe.”

Chlöe Bailey plays Dre's sister, Marissa. 

Image: Prime Video

While the connections between Ni’Jah and Beyoncé are clear (but not explicit), it's still fun to draw comparisons. There are mentions of Ni’Jah’s “more spiritual” sister, a nod to Bey’s younger sister, Solange Knowles. The cast even includes Beyoncé's protege Chlöe Bailey, who plays Dre’s sister, Marissa, and Damson Idris (Snowfall) as Marissa’s love interest, who sports an OG Houston Rockets bomber jacket in the first episode. Even Ni’Jah’s Houston tour date falls on the same day as Beyoncé's 2016 concert at NRG Stadium. A coincidence? We think not.

Overall Swarm is an enjoyable comedic and dramatic roller-coaster ride that mashes up emotions and genres. One moment you’re laughing, the next you’re watching Dre happily dispose of her next victim.

If you complete the seven-show series, you'll get a reveal that shines a not-always-complimentary spotlight on stan culture and how it can very easily creep from fandom into dangerous fanaticism.

And, of course, this much Houston-ness has the Twittersphere all, well, atwitter, with opinions on things small and large, including how well H-Town is represented on screen:

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