Given its general nature–a horror show with sci-fi elements with race as a major theme–it only makes sense that, when Lovecraft Country did an episode based around the 1921 Tulsa massacre of Black Wall Street, we might want to compare this show to another HBO drama that likewise covered race in America and famously showed that same incident, namely Watchmen.
So, let me get that out of the way as Hippolyta uses the multiverse machine to get the Book of Names from the last place anyone ever saw it.
In short, I would say as much as I like a lot of what Lovecraft Country is doing, I somewhat preferred the way Watchmen did it more. Granted, Watchmen was about a whole lot of things, racism being one of the bigger ones, but to say it was only about race might be doing Watchmen a disservice.
That said, what Watchmen had to say on race was incredibly hard-hitting, recasting one of the more mysterious figures from the original graphic novel as a black man and showing some of the uglier aspects of America. Lovercraft Coiuntry is doing much the same thing, but on a smaller, more intimate scale by focusing primarily on one extended family.
If anything, that goes for how the Tulsa riots are portrayed. Watchmen opened with it as a large, chaotic, incredibly violent mess seen from the limited point of view of a child being hustled out of town, seeing his own parents for the last time. It looked like a big set piece, appropriate for the series.
By contrast, the riot seems…smaller on Lovecraft Country. Much of the violence takes place off-screen, or when we do see white people moving in to attack, there only seems to be maybe eight to ten guys involved. Again, Lovecraft Country is a show with a smaller focus, and with Leti, Montrose, and Tic there, there’s some drama as Montrose and Tic witness a younger Montrose getting a beating from his own father and Leti has to basically convince Tic’s elderly grandmother to hand over the Book of Names by doing the one thing they all said not to do and let people know they were time travelers. Plus, since Leti is now fireproof, she can walk through a series of bombs unscathed to get back to her own time.
Granted, that does explain why the Book disappeared from Tulsa. Of course, the only reason the Freemans and Leti are even looking for the thing is because Christina will do something to help the potentially dying Diana if she can have it. Oh, and it turns out that time travel can’t really change anything since Montrose, as a boy, was rescued from a mob by a mysterious man who turned out to be his future son.
So, while the actual attack looked smaller than the one on Watchmen, it still held the right amount of power needed to fit the story this show is trying to tell, putting the tragedy on a more personal level, and that’s something I can certainly appreciate.