Donald Glover’s newest series on Amazon Prime is called “Swarm,” and it’s a criticism of the celebrity stan culture, where fans idolize and deify singers and dancers to the point of forming a cult of their own. Heavily parodying the fan club of popular singer Beyoncé, “Swarm” features a fictional character named Ni’Jah, who has a massive Twitter follower group that calls themselves the beehive, and they “sting” anyone who dares to insult their goddess. A congregation of borderline insane internet fans who take offense at the slightest disparagement of their idol, “Swarm,” demonstrates the vicious nature of fan clubs. However, one fan of Ni’Jah takes things to the extreme and begins murdering those who might not like her idol. Dre (Dominique Fishback) is a mentally deranged fan who commits a string of murders merely because the victims dislike Ni’Jah. Based on real events and actual characters, Glover’s “Swarm” explores how an unhinged fan can destroy several lives because of some comments on Twitter, and here’s a breakdown of Dre’s insanity in Season 1.
It’s common for young people to love celebrities, especially if they’re singing or dancing icons who can teach teenagers to dream and make them feel that the idols’ lyrics are custom-made for their troubles. However, if the love for celebrities spills out of the cup of normalcy, this spells trouble for the fans themselves and the people around them. It was the latter that happened to Andrea, aka Dre, who was insanely devoted to the singer Ni’Jah – a fictional character based on Beyoncé – and her entire room spoke volumes about her unbridled love for the woman. Dre knew she wasn’t traditionally the prettiest girl, at least compared to her roommate Marissa (Chloe Bailey), but that didn’t matter to Dre because she had Ni’Jah’s songs and Marissa as her company. Fiercely devoted to the girl she called sister, Dre bought two tickets for $1.8k to go to Ni’Jah’s concert as a surprise for Marissa, but her roommate had other plans. Dre’s socially awkward nature was picked up on by Marissa’s debauchery-prone boyfriend Khalid as an indication that she liked the man, and he even tried kissing her while she was at work. Dre, however, was a loyal sibling to the ones she cared for and turned down Khalid. Luck wasn’t on Dre’s side, and a robbery made Marissa leave Dre when the latter tried explaining that Khalid wasn’t a good man. Be it her hyperventilation in the face of difficulties or Marissa being tired of cleaning up Dre’s mess; the girl walked out of Dre’s life. That night, Dre made love to the first man she saw at a club just to understand why sex is considered such a big deal in society.
When Dre found that Marissa had taken her own life because Khalid had cheated on her, something broke inside the show’s main character. Dre decided that the two women whom she loved the most in the world are all who matter to her, and she’ll do everything possible to silence every naysayer and hater they might have, starting with the man who was the reason for Marissa’s death. Dre reached Khalid’s home and bashed his head in with a blunt object while he was preparing tea for them and then began forcibly eating, with Khalid’s blood still on her hand. However, before she committed the murder, Dre’s mind buzzed like a thousand bees as she became like the hive-mind of Ni’Jah’s fan club, which prowls the internet looking for anyone who might dare to breathe one word of negativity against their goddess. After smashing Khalid’s head in, Dre finds twisted pleasure in eating unhealthy food, and this quickly develops into an addiction. After her first kill, the next target on Dre’s list is a man named Reggie Wilkins, who could be considered an internet troll. He enjoyed getting a reaction out of obsessed fans and sat back laughing as the devotees seethed in rage. Dre was a different kind of devotee altogether, and she took up a job at a strip club just so that she could locate Reggie and end his life. His crime? He disrespected Ni’Jah and laughed at Marissa’s death.
Perhaps it was her socially awkward demeanor or strangely silent nature that made her a very interesting person, and led a woman named Halsey striking up a friendship with her, albeit one-sided. Dre saw Halsey fight with her boyfriend and snuck out and bashed the boyfriend’s head in, and just when we thought Dre might be the vigilante who stands up for women, albeit with murder, she shot Halsey dead for talking too much. This just goes to show Dre was an unpredictable lunatic who could do anything at any moment, and people would always be at risk if they were near her. Dre became a nonchalant binge eater who refused to stop eating even when a college baseball player offered her money to let him pleasure himself in front of her. The only time there was any life behind the soulless eyes of Dre was when she spoke of Ni’Jah, and that’s the only time she’d speak with any excitement. By Episode 3, murder had become an addiction for her, as she’d sneak into people’s houses and paralyze them before interrogating them about their favorite singer. There was an immense “Scream” vibe from the psychotic girl, who almost got what she had coming to her when she tried attacking Reggie Wilkins, but the big guy started strangling her. With luck on her side, Dre was rescued by her fellow dancers, who attacked Reggie while one woman shot him dead. With zero care for her fellow women, Dre escaped, leaving them high and dry—something that would return to haunt her in later years.
Dre had a strange power over people, be they men or women. She made George—a formerly obese man who only ate healthy now—stuff his mouth with all kinds of junk food and later locked him inside a room with a massive cake. In all probability, George ate himself into a food coma and died behind closed doors, but there’s no way to confirm this yet. Previously as well, Halsey felt drawn to her, despite Dre having zero characteristics that made her remotely interesting, unless her psychotic killing spree can be a good conversation starter. A neurotypical person is one who knows how to behave in a group setting and doesn’t act in a manner that might be harmful or embarrassing to themselves or the others involved. Dre, being the furthest thing from a neurotypical human, didn’t know the ideal way to react when she saw her idol Ni’Jah in front of her after sneaking into an after-party with George’s pass. Instead of introducing herself as a fan of hers, Dre proceeded to bite her idol before quickly realizing what she had done and bolting out of the place before the people could catch up to her. It’s almost fair that a witch-hunt began to track down the psychotic woman who had bitten Ni’Jah, and if caught, Dre might’ve been served the same treatment she was dishing out to those who dared to dislike her favorite singer.
When Dre was invited to a country retreat home run by an all-women’s group with Eva (Billie Eilish) as their leader, all the women took an instant liking to Dre without any idea what a vicious psychopath she was. After a grueling hiking session, Eva started Dre’s counseling and slowly began breaking down the murderer’s walls of defense. It was revealed that Dre had once hurt someone and then just apologized for spilling red milk; it was in reference to stabbing a girl who had been her and Marissa’s classmate. It’s very dangerous to try to enter the deranged mind of an insane being like Dre, but Eva succeeded with her eerily blue eyes and disturbingly calm voice. When Dre learned that the woman purposefully kept her phone away from her, Dre became furious and got into her car and stepped on the gas, accelerating towards Eva. After running over Eva, Dre kept stepping on the gas until Eva’s entire body was crushed under the car and then killed another woman by smashing her head with the car door. The last woman was battered to death by Dre, but she was the one crying when she turned up late at the concert and missed Ni’Jah. The episode where the woman took a stranger in and tried to help her should be the finest warning against trusting strangers who are being followed by police.
In a sequence structured like a true crime documentary, Dre’s past is revealed by the investigating officer, Loretta Greene, who discovers that Andrea was adopted by the Jacksons as a sister for their daughter Marissa Jackson. However, Dre never could become a part of the family, and Harris Jackson, the father, could barely tolerate the socially awkward creature. After being booed off the stage during a talent show, Andrea stabbed a girl named Gwen and started strangling her for pranking Marissa, and that’s when Harris turned her out. During her formative years, Dre was bullied for her personality and looks, and that’s when she found refuge in Ni’Jah. The singer became the entire reason for her being able to function, and she devoted herself to the woman she considered a goddess, which is why she’d hear buzzing as her brain stopped functioning when Ni’Jah was disrespected.
In the series finale, after an undisclosed amount of time has passed, we see Dre having cut her hair short, wearing men’s clothes, and living in her car. She came across a beautiful girl named Rashida who took an interest in Dre, and they started dating, and it was the first time Dre showed an interest in a person other than Ni’Jah. Dre met Rashida’s parents, and even though she’s still socially awkward, she was doing something other than murdering and had even learned to live without her phone. On their anniversary, Dre decided to gift Rashida tickets to Ni’Jah’s concert as a surprise that left her girlfriend furious because she had made it crystal clear on the first day that she hated Ni’Jah. When Rashida screamed at Dre for wasting $4k down the drain, she listened for a while before strangling Rashida to death with tears rolling down her face. Dre remained the psychotic killer she was, and Rashida had to pay for it because she’d started a relationship with the shady woman with a questionable background. The series ends with Dre jumping onto Ni’Jah’s stage during the concert and being seen being escorted out by Ni’Jah, who consoles her inside her car. In actuality, however, Dre was immediately arrested and dragged into Atlanta jail, which meant the entire scenario of Ni’Jah holding Dre was just in her head, and she started living in her fantasy to escape reality. At this time, Dre was insane and believed inside her twisted mind that it was Ni’Jah who was consoling her, whereas it was the cops taking her away to the station.
The first season ends in a way to present Dre in a sympathetic position, but one has to keep in mind that Dre brutally murdered several innocent people, including Rashida, for their opinions about a singer, and she needs to be strapped in a straitjacket and thrown into a padded cell. It’s a shame how fans lose touch with reality and start fantasizing that their idols are their entire world, which makes them a threat to everyone around them. Be it her several childhood traumas or her socially awkward nature, nothing excuses the plethora of crimes that Dre committed, and she needs to be punished like any other serial killer when Season 2 rolls out.