TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 1)
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Affecting, honest, and with a far more mature understanding of racism and injustice than popular entertainment would otherwise offer up, Black Lightning is the show we need in 2018. Many elements of the show set it apart from its CW counterparts in the Arrow-verse, which contribute to the sense of great promise held by this pilot episode: primarily, our protagonist is a middle-aged black man returning to his superhero identity after almost a decade, doing away with the slow and predictable origin stories many other DC shows have subjected us to. It is also a superhero story that confronts not just crime, nor blindly reinforces institutions of law and order for the benefit of the status quo. No, Black Lightning instead challenges crime as a symptom of the institutional and systemic oppressions that create a culture of crime in the first place. Just as importantly, this show is brazenly black. On a pop culture landscape that sees white male after white male enter the superhero universe, it’s refreshing and necessary to see a show driven wholly by a black man and a wider black community, and their struggle to exist trapped between police brutality and gang violence.
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