“I know Leti, shit!” ~ Atticus Freeman
After further analysis and conversations, I actually hate the relationship Leti & Atticus form in the show Lovecraft Country. Let me first disclose that this show is brilliant, phenomenal, and I have never seen anything like it before. Now, let’s dive into the story of Leti & Atticus. As my best friend describes this sort of relationship, “the Angry Man and Fun-Loving Woman.”
Lovecraft Country is the latest show in the longest while that is so meticulously developed in its own world and multi-layered universe that has held my attention every single episode. So much so that I began to rewatch it.
The style of courting and relationship that begins with Atticus and what is figured to be his first love, Ji-Ah, is starkly different from his interactions and ways of loving Leti. He treats Ji-Ah like the most delicate flower, as any man should that is involved with a woman. He creates a home movie theatre date, brings her flowers, and is extremely gentle with her. In the way a man ought to be with a woman, especially one he is courting.
Ironically, as delicately as he treats her, she is a demon. Literally. An actual demonic spirit resides in her soul. After finding this out, he still cares for her of course and wants her to leave Korea with him and go back to the States. She doesn’t, and he leaves.
When Atticus gets back home, he meets up with Leti, an old classmate and childhood friend. Leti is obviously into him after seeing the boy in her science club grow into this fine man. Atticus knows this because eventually he has sex with her. Also, he saves her in a choice between her and Uncle George. At the very least, he cares for this woman.
Yet when these traumatic events unfold, he consistently ignores her afterwards and intends to leave town. Obviously, for the plot, he stays and they all go on a journey together and encounter more adventures. However, along these trips he is consistently mean to Leti. The same man that took her virginity, she had to tell him later on (because why else would she randomly bleed out during sex?), constantly disrespects her. In addition to his snappy behavior and violent outbursts, he disregards her in a way that he wouldn’t and didn’t do to Ji-Ah. I had to wonder why is that.
I thought of one factor: familiarity.
He had no background with Ji-Ah prior to dating her. In fact, she intended to kill him before catching feelings for him. Still, he loved her after a revelation like that. He had the desire to impress her & be on his best behavior because she didn’t know him. To build a good rapport with someone for any desired outcome, whether that be sex or a relationship, you have to sway their opinion of you to a favorable one to reach that desired goal. That’s what he did and why he pulled out all the stops to impress this Korean nurse who revealed initial intentions to kill him.
But Atticus was familiar with Leti.
There was no driving factor to build rapport with her because they already knew each other to a certain degree. So there was a comfort zone. A feeling of familiarity that did not motivate any intention to be on one’s best behavior. Yet, Leti intentionally acted in every way possible to help Atticus while Ji-Ah did not. Regardless if Ji-Ah’s intentions changed. Leti never had a thought to hurt that man. But continuously throughout the show you see him hurt Leti in many ways.
The only positive displays of attention and affection from Atticus to Leti was during sex and moments of danger where she needed protection. Every other instance felt painful and disrespectful; When he left her in the bathroom after sex, yelled at her in the underground museum, in her house after striking his father, and damn near every other scene.
I understand where the layers of hurt comes from in Atticus’ character which mainly showcases in anger, love in sexual acts, and a lot of yelling. But it is not justifiable to how his character maneuvers his relationship with Leti versus Ji-Ah. He didn’t bring the baggage of his father and brutal childhood to the relationship with Ji-Ah. Not from what we saw. Instead he brought his best self. But he brought all of that luggage and then some into his relationship with Leti regardless of the differences in his intentions over time with both women. He simply treated Ji-Ah better and held her in a higher regard than Leti.
It shows a difference in treatment between Black women and other women. It shows the unfamiliarity between Atticus and Ji-Ah, by race and relation, brings about a warm and gentle treatment from this Black man to a Korean woman.
Inversely, it shows a Black woman tolerating high loads of disrespect and mistreatment that another woman of a different race did not have to experience from the same man in the same nature of a relationship.
It brews the questions:
- Why must Black women suffer to be loved?
- Why aren’t more Black women treated & courted with gentleness by Black men on- and off-screen?
- Why are Black men, specifically, so much more rough with Black women than any other group of women?
To misquote Miss Sorjourner Truth, “ain’t we all women?” I’m finding out from these displays of “affection”, or lack thereof, we are not.
What does this tell Black men and women watching this romantic arc unfold?
It tells us the behavior Atticus exudes regardless of how excruciating, abusive, or painful it may be, the woman, his woman, a Black woman, stands by him all while being disregarded in every other instance. I can only imagine one has to be under a guise of manipulation for those few moments of gentleness, kindness, and protection during sex or in the face of danger to stay with a man like that. Then further engulf oneself into his hoodoo family deep enough to bear his future child and save his family’s legacy.
It’s a dynamic I’m tired of seeing and falling into because of it’s unhealthy and manipulative manner. Unlike what we would like to believe, media has an enormous impact on our psychological development and understanding. It wasn’t until I became older that I became disgusted with the dynamic of Olivia & Fitz’ relationship. It wasn’t until after I went online and seen a tweet that called out the fact Leti & Tic argue most of the time on-screen that I became disgusted with the idea of their relationship being presented as romantic in the name of love.
These are the Love & Basketball, Baby Boy relationship dynamics between hetero- men and women where one party pulls and pushes the other until a resolution comes along much later to where they stand in a relationship.
Like each of those examples, there is an unequal amount of force delivered by one person, in this case, it was Leti. Then Atticus gives into her over time. But first he must attempt to leave her multiple times, disrespect her, and outright scare her in endless moments of anger, aggression and chastisement. Still Leti pressed on where he clearly wanted her to let go. That subtext tells us if you keep trying and investing into someone, regardless of how they respond to it, eventually peace and happiness will finally be reached in the end after a surmount of mistreatment.
I know it’s a show and meant for entertainment, but I also know it is possible to build characters for hetero men & women that can showcase healthy or equitable romantic dynamics without the need to suffer some form of wrath from either character. Or, an imbalance of love & respect between two romantic partners in the name of character building and plot lines. It’s possible. I am personally working on it.
It would be beneficial as a collective society to stop romanticizing those tropes of a relationship as romance or true love when it is much more painful above all else. Love isn’t painful. If it is, it’s not love. It’s pain. Sometimes I wish that distinction between the two was shown more on-screen in romantic storylines. Given the intricate plots enveloped in a show like Lovecraft Country, it would have been possible to display. But I won’t tell Ms. Misha Green how to write, she knows how to do that very well. So well that she actually took heed to a critique and admitted a misstep in direction with the native, two-spirited character, Yahima.
There was only 2 shows that garnered my attention enough to write about in the past, which was Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. You can see how those Emmy, Golden-Globe, SAG award-winning series went down in history and why. The script and acting was superb.
Misha Green created this world based on the book of the same name so well that I want to visit and experience it in a ride, house, or some sort of themed section of an amusement park. I want to meet Leti, Atticus, and Hippolyta. I would say Montrose, but his character wasn’t all that pleasant, understandably so.
My takeaways from the dysfunctional love story of Leti & Tic are:
Black women in comparison to other women aren’t seen as delicate by Black men.
Familiarity brings about comfort that can introduce disrespect.
Unfamiliarity breeds the best behavior.
So in conclusion, remain a stranger to these niggas, period.
I can’t wait for season 2. The cast, crew, and writers did amazing.