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Black Lightning

This CW superhero show tackles much more than supervillains.

Black Lightning The CW
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Now entering its second season, Black Lightning — the youngest TV show based on a DC Comics property to land on The CW — remains a tricky proposition. It wants to be a rousing, entertaining superhero series, with great fights and death-defying feats. But it also wants to engage in serious discussions of what it means to be black in America, what it means to be a father in America, what it means to be a man in America — and of what it means to be all three in America.

The series succeeds thrillingly often — especially when you consider it has just 42 minutes each week to achieve its lofty goals. That’s thanks to the work of instantly charismatic star Cress Williams, and the showrunner Salim Akil, who combine Black Lightning’s many layers into compelling, action-packed scripts. Oh, and it’s a sneakily insightful series about aging, to boot.

“Black Lightning is not without its own flaws, including occasionally disjointed or abrupt storytelling, but its clear desire to educate and inspire through compelling family drama continues to make it a show of consequence.” Allison Keene, Collider

Metacritic score: N/A (79 out of 100 for season one)

Where to watch: New episodes of Black Lightning air Tuesdays at 9 pm Eastern on The CW. The first season is available on Netflix.

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