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Billie Eilish in Swarm
Billie Eilish in Swarm
Prime Video

A Dive Into “Swarm” and Stan Culture

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

Spoilers Ahead!

“Who’s your favorite artist?” I’m sure at one point anyone has been asked that question- but in this show your answer could be deadly.

The newest show on Prime Video, “Swarm” is getting all the buzz. Rightfully so as the works of creators, Donald Glover, and Janine Nabers, and star, Dominique Fishback shine so brightly.

“Swarm” centers on Dre (Dominique Fishback), a girl who can’t get enough of everything that huge pop star Ni’Jah (Nirine S. Brown) puts out. The character of Ni’Jah is a Beyonce-level star who has a similar fanbase called the “Swarm”, like Beyoncé’s “Beyhive.”

As a part of the “Swarm” Dre talks about her obsession with the musician online, mostly through a Twitter account, participating in Stan Twitter with others in the Swarm.

No matter what Dre is ride-or-die for Ni’Jah. She will do anything to make sure she gets tickets to her next show, is there for the drop of every music video, and will take down anyone who goes against Ni’Jah.

Described as a “satirical psychological horror thriller,” the story of Dre as the show follows her downward spiral, watching her every move based on what Ni’Jah does. 

After the death of her sister, with whom she shared a love for Ni’Jah, Dre reacts with anger and passion and goes after the person she believes is to blame for her death: her sister’s boyfriend. She goes over to his house and murders him, starting her killer streak.

Using her Twitter account, Dre finds people who bash Ni’Jah on Twitter, stalks them and goes after them. Fishback plays the eerie character with such nuance you can almost believe that this is a person that could exist in real life.  

In the episode “Taste” Dre gets the chance to meet Ni’Jah in real life, only to bite her, reenacting the 2018 news headline, “Who Bit Beyoncé?” Glover and Nabers make it apparent they are referencing the star with a similar reaction from the Swarm as the Beyhive reacted. 

Episode four, “Running Scared,” introduces Billie Eilish in her first acting role as the leader of a “female empowerment” group. The tension between Fishback and Eilish in their scenes together elevates the stress Dre is going through even though she seems to be surrounded by people whose main focus is keeping the peace.

The final episode, “Only God Makes Happy Endings,” features Dre with a new look and a new name, now going by Tony. It seems like she has found her final destination but turns on her partner after a bad comment about Ni’Jah.

Dre is an active member of what is affectionately called “Stan Twitter” known on Twitter as cult-like in real life and is depicted as so in the show. It is an online community that bands people together based on their shared interests, but in the past is known for being aggressive in their approach.

Stan culture doesn’t just reside on Twitter but can spread to any social media outlet. When a fan’s favorite artist is attacked by another singer or celebrity the fans make it their number one priority to go after them.

This part of social media can be very toxic at times, hopefully never ending up as aggressive as Dre, but can still make it hard for celebrities whose only crime is existing and doing their job. 

The show is revolutionary, as it takes a look at how obsessive Internet culture can be. Glover and Nabers created a show that dives into how all-consuming the Internet can be and how it shapes today- although maybe not as violent in real life.

Sophia is a junior majoring in Public Relations at Penn State University. She loves watching movies, listening to music, and hanging out with her friends.