What I Loved Most About 'Us' Was Its Normal Portrayal of a Black American Family

Updated: Apr 10, 2019



*WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead*


I went to an early screening of Jordan Peele's latest film, Us, the night before its March 22 release date. Despite my aversion to horror flicks (a contradiction to my slight fascination for sci-fi psycho thrillers), I was anxious to see this film for a few obvious reasons: 1) JP is writer goals (Get Out is hands down one of the best, most original screenplays I've seen in recent years); 2) Winston Duke rocking my alma mater's sweatshirt (HU!) is a sight to behold on its own; and 3) Lupita.


As I'm writing this, it hasn't even been a full 24 hours since the film's release and there's already a ton of theories and thinkpieces on it. That said, I'll spare y'all my analysis on how the film's title and theme are basically a double entendre (no pun) for the socioeconomic disparities between the U.S. lower and upper class (the haves vs. the have nots), as well as the demons that lurk "beneath the surface" within us as we fight to achieve some semblance of the "American dream". Not here to discuss how Lupita's character(s) was a clear depiction of how childhood upbringing and/or trauma can play a crucial role in how we grow to perceive and navigate the world around us. Nor am I here to point out the film's emphasis on the ambulance, which signifies danger ahead (as foreshadowed by the toy ambulance truck in one of the first scenes) or how sometimes we have to save ourselves -- from ourselves -- in order to survive in this world (as depicted in the final scene where a victorious Wilson family drives away from their defeated dopplegangers in an ambulance truck). Nope, not here to talk about none of that.


Adelaide (Lupita N'yongo) is your overprotective, nurturing mom who would literally do anything for her family. Gabe (Winston Duke) is your lovable, goofy American dad who makes bad jokes and prides himself on his work and accomplishments (as noted, again, by that glorious Howard sweatshirt he's wearing throughout the film as well as the boat he purchases during their family trip). Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is your normal teenage girl who spends the majority of her time glued to her cellphone and being annoyed by her younger sibling. And Jason (Evan Alex) is your normal pre-teen boy who is playful, nerdy and slightly mischievous.

A typical mom trying to protect her kids from danger.

They are obviously Black, but I love how the film's storyline isn't centered around their blackness -- or race at all, really. It shows them simply being a relatively normal, functioning family. A family that loves taking trips together and eating dinner together and listening to old-school Hip Hop in the car together and fighting evil dopplegangers together (?). That's literally my family (minus that last part lol). Normal, everyday human beings with real life issues, who just love and support one another. Educated, working-class citizens who like to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor every once in a while. People who can be fully aware and proud of their culture (Gabe graduated from Howard, an HBCU; their daughter is the namesake of the legendary Zora Neale Hurston [who also graduated from Howard]; and they appreciate 90's Hip Hop classics like I Got 5 on It and F*** the Police, both staple songs in the Black community) but can still relate to people of other races, cultures and backgrounds (the friends they are vacationing with are white).


I love how their dark brown skin and natural hair aren't politicized. I love how both parents are present and loving of one another and their children. I love how we see a young Adelaide's parents taking her to see a (BLACK) psychiatrist following her traumatic incident, a firm nod to mental health awareness in the Black community. And I love the refreshing normalcy of it all, because that's exactly what it is and that's exactly what we are -- normal human beings just out here tryna live life like the rest of y'all.



This is US: (left) my sister, me, Mom and Dad

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© 2019 by According to Kori