Why you should be watching Black Lightning on the CW:
The first season has concluded and now is a great time to catch up during the hiatus. There will be a season #2 and it has definitely exceeded all expectations of fans and DC folk alike. My initial review of the season premier is here.
Before the premier, there was a collective blerd thinking of, "I'll watch it to support and see what's going on in this post Black Panther euphoria, but it looks corny." After the pilot premiered there was no question that this was a self aware series, that understood its audience and came ready to shine and outshine all others. It holds its own against the Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends shows and though there were many that want Black Lightning to crossover with those DC staples, I sense a resounding, "nah, we good" vibe. It can definitely live in the same universe but show runners...feel free to keep the story in the fictional city of Freeland.
Even with the elements of super powers and fantastical events, this show is well grounded in a reality that plays out in the media. When events happen in the community, news coverage allows the everyday black folk to speak their truth. When in one episode, it was discovered that young black people had been targeted for drug and medical testing, the folk took to the streets and spoke directly to the audience through the news cameras proclaiming that corruption and experimentation on black bodies was nothing new and had its roots hundreds of years into America's past. It's scenes like this that connect the super hero genre to black reality and allow those not familiar with or die hard fans of to join in. Black Panther definitely opened a door for that audience and Black Lightning is serving as a good primer for going beyond.
Of the characters on the show, it was no coincidence that among the most wealthy members of the black community were the religious leaders and morticians. The most corrupt had backgrounds in politics. Black police officers were caught between black and blue and the most revered were the principal at the school. They also depicted intelligence as a badge of honor, and protest as a call to action. The writers were clearly using their platform to spark conversations beyond the characters costume and fight scenes, and that's something to be celebrated.
In one episode, our main character wears a "People's Free Food Program" hoodie with the Black Panther logo. This could be and probably was a two-fold nod. One, to the Black Panther Party ideology of community, self-progress and the program that began as a free breakfast program for children in Oakland in 1969. But it's also a subtle nod to Marvel's Black Panther which premiered before the episode aired. Either way, it's nothing but love and this is just one of the many reasons why if you are not watching Black Panther, you should be.