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Billie Eilish's Swarm Character Has A Chilling Real-Life Inspiration

"Swarm" is the latest show to dive into the dark side of fandom. Created by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover, who previously worked together on Glover's "Atlanta," the series follows Dre (Dominique Fishback), an obsessive fan of the Beyoncé stand-in Ni'Jah (Nirine S. Brown), as she attempts to get closer to her favorite artist by any means necessary and leaves a bloody trail of death in her wake.

However, one of the biggest gets in "Swarm" is no doubt the acting debut of pop sensation Billie Eilish. The Grammy-winning singer guest stars as Eva in Season 1, Episode 4 ("Running Scared"), the leader of a "female empowerment group" that is actually the thin cover for a cult with a devious real-life inspiration.

If this sounds familiar to you, you'll no doubt be thinking of the scandalous fallout that surrounded the NXIVM cult. A group that was also largely spearheaded by a pretty girl-next-door type with shoulder-length blond hair, Allison Mack, Eva's cult in "Swarm" marks a pretty easy comparison to the real-life group that was responsible for untold amounts of trauma for dozens of young actors.

Eva and her group are inspired by the real-life NXIVM cult

The series' co-creator, Janine Nabers, said Billie Eilish's character is inspired by the NXIVM cult and its sex trafficking, racketeering leader, Keith Raniere. The real-life group was involved in a myriad of sex trafficking charges back in 2018, and its leader, Raniere, was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

Allison Mack, his second in command, was complicit in recruiting women to the cult and even branding them as slaves with a symbol made up of her and Raniere's initials. Nonetheless, her sentence was only three years, mainly due to the fact that she was also a victim of Raniere herself. While Dre is able to escape from the cult in "Swarm" through brutal acts of force, many women in NXIVM were not so lucky.

Raniere was forced to pay $3.4 million in damages to 21 victims of the cult, as well as an additional fine of $1.75 million. While these real-life figures and other NXIVM cult members weren't mowed down in bloody succession in the way that the cult members in "Swarm" are, the fines and prison sentences that Mack and Raniere received clearly display that crimes of this nature are taken very seriously and are punished heavily as a result.