Nella, a black, twenty-something aspiring editor, already has enough to trouble her in her New York publishing job without having to worry about uncanny events in the office. Her boss asks her to indulge a racist author, older coworkers tut at her music while young ones showcase their allyship, and newly-hired colleague Hazel — the only other black employee — appears to be a sly rival masquerading as a supportive friend. And then there are the eerily flickering lights, the ghostly apparitions and an alarming anonymous message which lands on Nella’s desk imploring her to “leave now”.

In other words, Get Out. Like Jordan Peele’s landmark 2017 film, 10-part series The Other Black Girl pointedly draws on the heightened vernacular of horror filmmaking as a means of confronting audiences with the disquiet and marginalisation black Americans face in daily life. Executive producer and author of the source novel Zakiya Dalila Harris once worked in publishing, and Hulu’s workplace satire-cum-mystery thriller also serves as a send-up of the infamously pale, stale literary world.

Violence initially comes in the form of back-stabbing. Nella proofs a problematic manuscript by the publisher’s biggest asset. While she is told to swallow her concerns by those higher up, Hazel (Ashleigh Murray) encourages Nella (Sinclair Daniel) to challenge the writer himself, only to jump in and ingratiate herself. A smooth, code-switching operator, Hazel brushes the incident off as a misunderstanding and convinces Nella that they can enact meaningful change in the industry together. 

The uneasy dynamic between two young women in a cynical, self-interested company feels like rich material to carry a story. But though the motivations behind the use of tongue-in-cheek horror are clear, sometimes it feels as if the show would have been more impactful as a conventional drama. The Other Black Girl can fall between the cracks of various genres — not quite searing or funny enough as a satire, slightly too exaggerated to truly unnerve. As an editor knows well, sometimes less is more.


On Disney+ from September 13 and on Hulu in the US