By: Jasanna Sevier
On September 30th, 2016, Netflix dropped Luke Cage, a new show about a bulletproof yet troubled man battling against illegal systems plaguing the city of Harlem, New York. The series circles around the theme of Black people doing what it takes to be ahead and stay alive but there is also a consistent reflection on how people can do better for the children living there and how the government has allowed for things to get so bad. Like in reality, views clash when it comes to the ethics that one should uphold and transfer to the younger generations. Luke, being far from a perfect citizen, struggles with making the right choices for his community and finding out what it’s like to be a hero.
This may all seem like a typical superhero show with the same underlying messages as others on TV right now, but this is not true. Luke Cage is the first Marvel TV series that does not have a white superhero or main character. Not only that, but the amount of white characters in this show is unprecedented in a Marvel or Netflix show other than The Get Down. Along with that, Luke Cage is a show oozing Black music, traditions, and references. Blade (2006) was the first Marvel based TV show that had a main black hero yet most of the leading characters were white and the show only lasted 13 episodes. If you google “Blade: The Series cast”, Stinky Fingaz, the actor who played Blade in the show does not even show up.
Once you digest the fact that this is a Marvel show, watched by fans coming from Jessica Jones where the character Luke Cage originated from, it makes all the difference. Jessica Jones was a show featuring a white female hero figure with a mostly white cast, soundtrack, etc. Now these dedicated fans, intrigued by the mysterious past of Luke Cage have to transition to this new series which is almost completely different in every way. It’s forcing them into a space they might not be comfortable in but this is something that has been needed in TV for a long time.
White fans may watch one episode of Luke Cage and feel that this type of show is not for them. This is not the case. This show should be for everyone. There is this misinterpretation that if there are less than a certain number of white characters in a show, white people should not watch it. Yet, every minority in this country has to deal with under-representation in the majority of TV shows and movies that have almost all white main characters.
There are extremely important topics on politics, racism, class-ism and injustice that shows of Black, Latinx, and Asian majority cover that white people are ignorant of because it is believed that those shows are only for those cultures. There is knowledge that is being overlooked because people want to stick to their own. Everyone should challenge themselves to not only watch this show but others that feature races that they are not associated with. White shows only display one side of life in America and neglects what is happening to the rest of the country. Luke Cage is stepping stone for a bridge that is hopefully going to form in the future and unite more cultures in entertainment.