Janine Nabers doesn’t have a Twitter account (“I am a little scared of Twitter”) but she says Donald Glover, who “lives on Twitter,” saw a tweet that inspired their newest show. “There was a Black woman that he follows on Twitter who he just loves her tweets, and she was like, ‘Why does every Black woman on TV have to be a therapist or a funny best friend or someone looking for love or a teacher? We can be crazy; we can be serial killers too.’ And the rest is Swarm.”

When Glover pitched Nabers on a show about a Black woman obsessed with a pop star, she knew it needed to start in Houston. Nabers, a Houston native now based in LA, was working with Glover in his Atlanta writers’ room when he approached her with the idea for his next project. “Atlanta is crucial to his identity and his way into a story,” Nabers explained in an interview after Swarm, the Amazon TV series cocreated by her and Glover, premiered its first two episodes at South by Southwest. “And being from Houston, it was my way into the story.” By anchoring their story of an icon-obsessed serial killer in a Black woman from the South, Swarm expands the meaning of representation while holding up a funhouse mirror to fandom and social media.

The resulting first episode (on Prime March 17) is inspired by rumors that Nabers remembers popping up in Houston after the April 2016 release of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. The rumors, given new life in the series, become the villain origin story of Dre (Dominique Fishback), a Houstonian who’s devoted to her sister, Marissa (Chloe Bailey), almost as much as she’s dedicated to her idol, Ni’Jah (Nirine S. Brown), the show’s Beyoncé stand-in. After a life-changing tragedy following the release of Ni’Jah’s Lemonade spoof, called Festival, Dre’s devotion rapidly turns violent.

When we first meet Dre, she’s engaged in a sacred ritual familiar to most modern-day music fans: navigating Ticketmaster so she can purchase pricey tickets to Ni’Jah’s tour stop at NRG Stadium. Swarm doesn’t shy away from the Beyoncé comparisons (at least not on screen, though in person I was asked to avoid any Beyoncé-related questions), with a note before each episode declaring that any similarities between real people and events are intentional. In Festival, those similarities mean a bejeweled knight on horseback, trippy visual effects, and Ni’Jah twirling her long braid in a circle of dancers. A shot of Dre’s Twitter feed during the release shows Ni’Jah fans coming to the same realization of infidelity that Beyoncé fans reached during the release of Lemonade. With Ni’Jah, Nabers and Glover hilariously capture the essence of a Beyoncé video or social media post and toe the line of parody without veering into outright mockery.

I could all too easily see myself in Dre’s frantic Ticketmaster navigation and the frenzied fan comments exalting the brilliance of Festival or expressing disbelief and anger that Ni’Jah’s partner would dare cheat on her. Those posts read like they’d been lifted directly from my own tweets and group texts. Swarm captures the joy of being in a fandom like the Beyhive, of being in community with other devotees on social media as we live-tweet a new release, even as it pokes fun at us. In the reflection of fandom that Swarm highlights, I can admit that yes, fans can look ridiculous and some of us can take our devotion a bit too far. It’s humbling, but also unexpectedly entertaining. It makes me wonder if I’ve done too much in stanning for my faves. (The answer is no.)

Dre, on the other hand, doesn’t seem capable of reflecting on whether her devotion to Ni’Jah is a bit much. In contrast, she seems unable to understand why others aren’t more obsessed with Ni’Jah. While other members of the Swarm shout about Ni’Jah’s twins from their social media balconies, Dre decides to do something about the trolling that spreads so easily on social media. “Who’s your favorite artist?” she asks someone who dissed Ni’Jah on Twitter. It sounds like a threat when she asks. Because it is.

“We really created [Dre] out of our want to tell a story that provokes the feeling that some of the anxiety [of social media] provokes,” Nabers said. “I think a lot of people get really worked up with tweets, with Instagram, with the things that they see online, that people really just take so much of it to heart. And so many people are just so willing to jump into the conversation in a violent and kind of grotesque way.”

At the series premiere at SXSW, Dominique Fishback admitted to initially struggling to get into the headspace of a character who didn’t have a clear psychological thread for her to follow. She would ask Glover and Nabers for more clarity about Dre, and while they directed her to films like The Piano Teacher and Under the Skin, they also kept repeating that Dre was “emotionally stunted.”

“The thing that [Donald and I] talked about a lot was just the idea of creating a character that’s a little bit of a fly on the wall in her own life, someone who doesn’t always have the words to say what she feels and what she’s thinking,” Nabers said. “But somehow we see in her mannerisms that there’s a lot of thought process happening here.”

The result is a deft performance by Fishback that anchors the series, while also giving it levity with some well-crafted physical humor. As Dre, Fishback is constantly analyzing and adjusting to her surroundings. When a clunky dance at a strip club drives customers away, Dre readjusts with a sultry performance that’s such a one-eighty that it still elicits laughter, not because it’s awful, but because it’s so good. Her calculations lead her to killing and more killing, and Nabers pointed out that Dre’s first few attempts are supposed to be amateurish. “We were really telling the story of someone who is trying on and fitting into the physicality of becoming a killer,” Nabers said. “It is supposed to look awkward, and it is supposed to be funny at times.”

It might also look awkward and funny because of who’s playing the serial killer. It’s not often that Black women are written and cast as someone so blatantly unhinged, a point made by the Twitter user that got Donald’s attention. Although “representation” can sometimes feel like an empty buzzword—or worse, become a scapegoat when a project flops—the tweeter and the show they inspired have a point: representation can also mean the freedom to step into unsavory roles without fear of respectability or the stigma of stereotyping.

“I think that’s a headspace that’s reserved for white people mostly,” Nabers said. “Some of my favorite shows on TV are very white shows: Succession, White Lotus, Transparent. Those people are all despicable. They’re all horrible to each other. They treat each other like shit. They do really horrible things. And this is like seasons and seasons and seasons of stuff. We’re giving you one season. . . . If that makes you angry, then I think that you have to step back and ask yourself why. That is what this experiment is for me as a Black woman.”

Swarm is an experiment worth following. Mostly since it’s in favor of such a valiant cause as defending Beyon—I mean, Ni’Jah.