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On Amazon’s ‘THEM,’ the Craft Team Put the Spoilers in the Wallpaper

There were meticulous details in the costuming that, at times veered into being spoilers themselves

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Consider This: Conversations highlight television’s award-worthy productions through panel discussions with the artists themselves. The above video is in partnership by Amazon Prime Video, produced by IndieWire’s Creative Producer Leonardo Adrian Garcia, and hosted by TV Editor Kristen Lopez.

The landscape of Amazon Prime Video’s series “THEM” is filled with horror from the moment the Emory family moves into their new Compton residence. That fear and tension isn’t limited to the project’s storytelling. As the crafts team members behind the series lay out, they wanted to imbue history and tension into everything surrounding the Emorys and everything they wear.

Costume designer Mari-An Ceo says the many meticulous details in the series’ costuming at times veered into being spoilers themselves. In some cases, those details were tiny. For instance, the villainous Miss Vera’s collar looks like a book, which subtly connects her to little Gracie Jean (Melody Hurd). In other cases, the details made deeper connections with the family’s history – and American history more broadly.

In one scene, Lucky Emory (Deborah Ayorinde) is set to confront Betty Wendell (Alison Pill). Her dress is dark and printed with trees. “We took trees, which heark[en] back to lynchings,” said Ceo. “She’s [Lucky] in a brown dress, but it has all the pastels from the houses in the neighborhood. We printed that ourselves.”

That attention to details extended to the house the Emorys themselves live in. Production designer Tom Hammock points out that the white families in the neighborhood have pastel houses. Those colors even permeate their interiors. (Just look at the wallpaper!) The Emorys’ house, however, has darker wallpaper. It is more dimly lit to evoke the lack of welcome and the darkness that will eventually play out.

“That tension between the inside and the outside was huge,” said series creator Little Marvin. “What I love about what Tom accomplished was – we’re making a horror show; it’s a genre exercise. So the balance between pledging fealty to the exact minutiae of details of the 1950s but just skewing it ever so slightly so there’s a bit of a hyper-real element to it… he beautifully captured that feeling of being unmoored.”

As Little Marvin points out, the show was a true collaborative process, with suggestions being presented not just by him but by the many different craftspeople he worked with. The creator jokes that there was a heavy sense of the meticulous, with everyone involved wanting to make the world as period authentic as possible, while still conveying who the characters are.

Watch the full panel above.

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