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Black Lightning and Grown-ish: The Evolution of Black Television

As we all know, February is Black History Month and it started off pretty well, if you ask me. But something else has come to my attention recently. Two amazing shows that I’m about to talk about, Black Lightning and Grown-ish. Both of these shows were kind of on everyone’s “If I have time I’ll watch it” list. Now, they have become “I want to tune in every week” shows. Black Lightning and Grown-ish have also earned an achievement most tv shows have not. They both have the highest viewer rate on a premiere date from the CW and Freeform. What makes these shows so special? And why are so many people tuning in weekly now? Each show has a diverse cast and they also hit on major issues in almost every episode, which I will explain in a few.

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Black Lightning:

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First we start with Black Lightning. This show kind of came out of left field. Many people heard about this show coming out, but didn’t really know what to expect. I for one will not lie. I was not a big Black Lightning fan before this show. I was more so of a Static fan and a fan of the cartoon series Static Shock.

When we first meet Jefferson Pierce, he is retired as Black Lightning and is a Principal at Garfield  High School where his two daughters Jennifer and Anissa attend school — Anissa working as a teacher. Within the first 5 minutes of this episode, we already get deep into the psyche of what it means to be black in America, especially when Jeff and his two daughters are randomly pulled over by a cop going home from a commencement ceremony. The cop believes Jeff fits the description of someone they’re after, but the woman in the backseat of the cop car says he is not the one. This pisses Jeff off to where we see the first real glimpse of his powers almost.

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At first, I saw a lot of people say that this show was corny, and that his costume is corny. To me, this show is great. It has mostly an all black cast, then the topics and issues that happen in this show are very real within the black community. Also, we see a character who isn’t just springing into action every chance he gets. Jeff lost his marriage due to being so committed to being a superhero, and he is trying to repair that with his ex wife Lynn. Each episode we see that Black Lightning more and more has the feeling of needing to put the suit on full time again, and be in the streets like he use too.

I also have to add that the villain of this show is excellent. Tobias played by Krondon. If you do not know who Krondon is, he’s a Hip-Hop artist who also raps with the Hip-Hop group, Dilated Peoples, every now and then. I was super excited when I heard he was casted and wanted to see how he would do. He has been excellent.

This show also shows a great amount of Black Love, with Jeff and Lynn, with Anissa and her lesbian loves, and then also with Jennifer and now Khalid. It is amazing to see all of this on television. And even more nice to see strong black women on television.

Before I forget, I have to add the music in this show is so amazing, so smooth. CW has to release a soundtrack for this show or do what Mr. Robot series started doing and showing the music at the end of each episode. The different soul, funk, Hip-Hop, late 60s to 70s music, sets the tone for each scene and comes in at the perfect time.

Grown-Ish:

Grown-ish

For all those who do not know, Grown-ish is a spin off from the ABC show Black-ish which I am very much a fan of. In this show we go into the college life of Zoey Johnson played by Yara Shahidi, and how she is coping with and dealing with her first year in college. I have to add, this show is not for every one that is grown. This show is not for the 40 and above club, sorry guys. This show hits on a number of issues in and out of college. We first see Zoey in a midnight class (something I never heard of and thank god I didn’t have one) but we see her and a few other students in class taught by her Uncle, Uncle Charlie. This is just a curve ball in itself, but Zoey soon becomes friends, we meet Luca, Aaron, Nomi, Vivek, and Jazlyn and Skylar Forster, and also her roommate Ana. They soon learn that they have one thing in common — college is rough.

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A lot of critics did not know how well Grown-ish would do with it being a spin off and also being on Freeform, instead of ABC. This show has gained one of the highest viewer ratings on a premiere date, and has also already been renewed for a second season when only 4 episodes have been released. Tonight a new episode will be airing at 8pm, so this shows that not every show has to be on a major television channel to get viewers.

The one thing that I think truly attracts people to this show is the different dynamics. This show doesn’t just go deep into topics, it stays in that area and tries to find a solution or a way to think more logical. We don’t just get superficial thinking, we get a real thought process of how someone that age might think and feel. One episode that was really great was the one recently where a huge basketball star Zoey was tutoring, Cash, needed a good grade to pass and stay on the team. This show broke down how most college athletes, even though they are on scholarships, they are also broke and basically have no money.

Another really good episode was last week’s episode when Nomi and Aaron were talking about double standards. If a woman is a lesbian or bi-sexual, everyone sees it as hot and thinks of threesomes, but when a man is bi-sexual, it’s disgusting and not everyone can really take a guy serious if he is bi-sexual.

Grown-ish not only goes deep into topics, but it is also very funny and shows how Zoey kind of talks to the camera or audience. We see different sides of each character, from dating to family, to how each person is kind of going through their own problems. But everyone doesn’t really show it until it gets to be unbearable. If you haven’t watched this show definitely go binge it.

Honorable Mention: The Chi

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For all of you who aren’t familiar with the show “The Chi”, this is a Chicago based show written by Lena Waithe. You’ll probably remember her from “Masters of None”. This show dives into the heart of the Southside of Chicago and the hard life of several individuals who are affected by a number of unexplained murders in the city. Even though this show is on Showtime there also free episodes on YouTube. Episode 1 was released on YouTube a month before the release date to get early fan reactions. This show is truly a roller coaster of emotions — amazing and heart wrenching. There are so many great young faces and also some faces we are familiar with. If you haven’t checked out this show go do it.

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