“Surface” is “Get Out” for Black Women

Faithe J Day
9 min readJul 31, 2022
Photo by Dave Goudreau on Unsplash

The work of filmmaker Jordan Peele has ushered in a renaissance of horror and psychological thrillers which address identity politics and the legacy of racism within American society. However, unlike historical dramas, which depict more explicit forms of racial ideology and violence that were endemic to the past, these new films deal with more subtle forms of racism that are unique to this historical period. In the article “How Black Horror Became America’s Most Powerful Cinematic Genre,” Gabrielle Bellot outlines the history of horror films that center on Black American lives. Specifically, Bellot writes that “Black horror. . . seeks to capture the all-too-real fear of walking through America in a Black body”.

This is why I have been so interested in many of the series from Apple TV+ that use both severe and comedic genres to address sociocultural issues. On the comedic side, the show “Roar” offers an almost intersectional feminist approach to series like “Black Mirror” or “The Twilight Zone.” In contrast, Apple TV+’s latest show, “Loot,” depicts a Black woman taking on modern-day concerns about the moral imperative of billionaires. And this weekend, the platform delivers the show “Surface,” a mystery thriller and film noir that centers on the brain and mental health but can easily be interpreted as a unique take on the Black horror genre of film and television.

Spoiler Free Summary of “Surface”

The series begins in San Francisco, CA, with the protagonist Sophie (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) recovering from a trauma resulting in extensive memory loss. Sophie’s character is presented as going through the motions of a life to which she has no tangible connection. The only bond that seems to unite pre- and post-trauma Sophie is that she is not happy in a life that, on the outside, appears ideal. From her friendships to her home and husband, Sophie lives in luxury and comfort, with zero responsibilities outside of philanthropy and personal development.

Faithe J Day

Writer, Creator, and Educator. Millennial and Internet Expert. Top Writer in Social Media, Culture, Television, and Feminism. Learn more at https://fjday.com