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Donald Glover, and Janine Nabers, have a hit on their hands with Swarm. Ever since the Priime Video series—a psychological thriller that takes an unadulterated, unhinged and murderous lens to Stan culture—started streaming, the Internets and Black Twitter have been littered with hot-takes, reactions and theories.
As soon the series was announced, it was clear that Beyoncé’s “Beyhive” of superfans was the inspiration. To keep things extra spicy, the writers used real-life events to propel that story that follows Dre, portrayed by Dominique Fishback, an obsessed fan of a singer called Ni’jah who is clearly inspired by Bey (her husband’s name is Caché).
Sometimes playing things too on the nose can be a problem, but in the case of Swarm it makes for a wild ride that will have you saying “WTF?” to thinking “Ooh, I remember that!” on to pondering “How exactly is she getting away with all of this?”
As a crib sheet for viewers dissecting the series, we pulled some of the real-life incidents, which spawned some epic moments on Black Twitter reactions, that inspired some of the episodes. There are spoilers below, so tread lightly if you haven’t yet watched Swarm. What are you waiting for, though?
1. The Bite: Tiffany Haddish Said What Now?
In 2018, Tiffany Haddish told GQ that she witnessed some bit Beyoncé in the face at a party. The gossip spread like wildfire, with Black Twitter detectives trying to figure who dared to put their teeth on the Queen. Eventually, the culprit was revealed to allegedly be Sanaa Lathan (hence the Love & Basketball reference in Swarm). However, Haddish has said she never confirmed it was Lathan who took a chomp at Beyoncé. What a time.
2. The Elevator Fade
Back in 2014, footage leaked of Solange Knowles blessing Jay-Z with the hand while in an elevator at The Standard Hotel in Manhattan. Swarm recreated the clip shot for shot, and also steadily mentions Ni’jah’s sister throughout the series. Black Twitter had a field day when that clip dropped, with many speculating that Jay-Z had done something dastardly. Which was all but confirmed by Beyoncé’s Lemonade album, which wouldn’t drop until 2016.
Speaking of Lemonade…
Let’s be clear, Dre is a fictional character. However, Janine Nabers has confirmed that the pilot episode was inspired by a rumor that a Houston woman named Marissa Jackson (portrayed in Swarm by Chloe Bailey) had killed herself after listening to Lemonade and being distraught about someone cheating on Beyoncé. Twitter trolls were even in going in on the poor child. But the kicker is that the rumor was based on a story from a satire site. So it was fake news.
4. Exit Stage Right – On The Run II Tour Stage Rusher
Dueing the last stop of Beyoncé and JAY-Z’s On The Run II Tour in 2018, an overzealous fan had the audacity to run up on stage during the Atlanta show. While in the series Dre, or Tony, actually got to kick it with their hero, the real-life Stan was escorted swiftly and efficiently out the paint.