Dominique Fishburn in SWARM

Dominique Fishback as Dre in SWARM.

Swarm: A Brilliant Psychological Thriller on Stan Culture

The brilliant psychological Beyoncé-inspired thriller that shows on what lengths a stan will go though to get to see their favorite artist.

Swarm, Amazon’s newest series from Donald Glover and Janine Nabers, finally graces our screens, and it’s a wild and cringy ride. The series follows Andrea “Dre” Greene (Dominique Fishback), a stan of her beloved mega-multiplatinum recording artist Ni’Jah, (Nirine S. Brown). Dre and her sister Marissa (Chloe Bailey) have been Ni’Jah stans from their teens to adulthood. That changes, however, when Marissa grows out of her stan phase, while her Dre remains the ever-loyal Ni’Jah stan.

Right from episode one, it’s no secret that Ni’Jah is an inspired version of Beyoncé. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’re not on Twitter, you know that the Beyhive is massive and loyal. Right off the bat, you learn that Ni’Jah stans also call themselves The Hive. They would follow Ni’Jah to the ends of the earth; she can do no wrong and is perfect. Stan culture thrives on the idea that their fave is infallable and must be protected at all costs.

Obsession comes with a price, however. Dre sets herself apart from other devoted fans in this series by memorizing every single song and album; she knows the meaning of everything Ni’Jah does. Dre plunges into financial debt and ruin just to get a chance to see her fave in concert. That goes south quickly when tragedy strikes, causing Dre to spiral into an unknown but familiar madness. 

Dominique Fishback as Dre in the poster for SWARM.
Amazon Prime’s SWARM is available in its entirety now.

Without spoiling the show too much, Dre convinces herself that Ni’Jah is more than her favorite artist; Dre sees Ni’jah as her friend. But viewers learn that there’s more to it than that. Have you ever seen stans swoop in to defend their fave on a critical tweet? The stans in Swarm do too, but Dre takes things one step further than just protecting Ni’Jah online from trolls and toxic men.

As I continued to binge the series, I noticed some similarities to Netflix’s You. You’re following a person whose particular brand of psychosis tries to convince them that their horrible actions have a reasonable explanation. It’s not their fault they commit these acts of violence while trying to obtain closeness to the person they admire and love most. 

As I crept toward the end, one more detail stood out. You will see very little of Ni’Jah throughout Swarm. You get glimpses of her music videos and a fun rendition of the “Who Bit Beyoncé” incident from 2018, which casually mentions that Sanaa Lathan was the alleged culprit. Seeing little bits of Ni’Jah mirrors how Beyoncé keeps to herself unless she must or wants to appear. 

I enjoyed Swarm, not just for the fantastic cast with some fun guest stars like Rickey Thompson, Billie Eilish, and Paris Jackson, but for the critique and display of toxicity in modern fandom. Don’t confuse The Beyhive with The Hive in Swarm, though. The two are very different even with their similarities.

Swarm is a dark, casually funny fictional reality inspired by real-life events that weaves itself into the stan culture and world of an alternate version of Beyoncé. As crazy as I thought this series was, I enjoyed the wild episodes surprising me with how dark, creepy, and twisted, it was. This show isn’t for everyone; though, it serves as reminder that being drunk in love with your fave isn’t always a good thing.

All episodes of Swarm are now available on Prime Video.

Check out more from Portia here with this review of The Partner Track.

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Portia is a Philly-based writer who shares her honest thoughts on the latest movies, shows, and video games. When Portia isn't busy writing, you can find her painting, reading outside, procrastinating to finish her book, or playing video games.

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