Of all the changes that differentiated HBO’s adaptation of Lovecraft Country from the horror novel it was based on, few were quite as disconcerting and genuinely messed up as Topsy and Bopsy, a pair of demonic twins summoned by racist cops to stalk and torment young Diana Freeman across Chicago. It just so happens that io9 has an exclusive look today at how the frightening pair came to be.
Where the child-hunting monster is depicted as merely an eerie toy in Matt Ruff’s novel, HBO’s Lovecraft Country elevates the concepts behind the character by reimagining them not just as demons, but as avatars of the anti-Black racism that take the literal form of racist caricatures popularized by Uncle Tom’s Cabin. What was so chilling about the demons’ brief on-screen time was the way their presence was the plot’s way of depicting a Black child’s world falling apart around her because of how racism makes young people especially vulnerable to monsters, both literal and metaphorical.
In order to weave Topsy (Kaelynn Harris) and Bopsy (Bianca Brewton) into Lovecraft Country’s story in a way that gave Diana (Jada Harris) the chance to fight a battle on her own—while the rest of the show’s adult cast were busy off dealing with apparitions of their own—artist Afua Richardson’s drawings of the characters became an integral part of the show. In a new exclusive clip from Lovecraft Country’s upcoming Blu-ray release, Richardson and Jada Harris sit down to explain some of the thinking that went into their respective approaches to handling Topsy, and approaching a character who reads every bit as stomach-turning to children as they do adults.
Lovecraft Country is now streaming on HBO Max.
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