Netflix has is the one of the biggest influencers of TV in the modern day and they have begun trailblazing into different styles, different genres, and different ways we view Television. In the series Luke Cage, Dear White People, and On The Block, there are countless multicultural styles that give each show its own racial identity to appeal to their audiences. Each show hits its own different demographic of racial issues. Dear White People is showing the racism in modern day universities, Luke Cage is showing the poverty and racism in Harlem, and On The Block seems to be located in Southern California where gang violence is prevalent.
When watching Dear White People, we are immediately indulged into the truth behind racism in Ivy League universities in the United States. Even larger than that, the racism we see in the university is something that is seen all across the nation. Netflix had some “big rocks” to create a show on this but it was a powerful topic, and good choice. Currently our nation is divided quite drastically by a number of outliers, and Dear White People was brave enough to take the issues head on. In the show, we are given a glimpse of what its like to lead an African American student run organization. Within these organizations, we seem predominantly African American students who have a hatred towards the generic White population when they try to downplay the current state of racism in the United States. As far as the characters in the show, they do a good job portraying them but as a white middle class student, I cannot relate to them specifically because I have not felt the racism they have. I can see through Gabes eyes as he wants to help the situation, but even though he is trying, there is not much he can do to help.
In Luke Cage, the show is placed in Harlem, which is a historically African American community. When looking at the selected actors in the show, they chose everyone in the set by hand. Being in Harlem, the majority of the characters in the show were minorities. The landlord for his apartment and the owner of the restaurant were Chinese. The surrounding cast seems to be a mixture of Mexican and African American. This is different from most shows we see present day. We do not see this kind of casting for shows, especially in the genre of superheroes. Most superhero stories, the superhero is a white male or female who is ridding a city of crime. This is different for so many reasons. Luke Cage is a very strong character who is extremely likable to the audience. He is very witty and hard working and he doesn’t like people disrespecting others as we saw in the fight scene in the Chinese restaurant. He is a poor man who is escaping his past by working as a janitor and kitchen staff jobs to stay under the radar. If you look at any other superhero movie in the past quarter century, this is far from anything you would have seen. This is what Netflix does best though, taking something you would like to see that is outside of the comfort level of most studios, and make a powerful show from the idea.
Lastly, On The Block, which is set in what seems to be southern California. It demonstrates the lives of a group of high school kids and the troubles they face in the gang infested neighborhoods. Netflix takes the lives of children which tends to be full of life and happiness, and incorporates the troubles that infest these lower class, minority, neighborhoods. There is a group of 4 kids, each of them from their own minority background, trying to figure their way through high school. One of the four has a long line of gang members in his family and was just pressured into joining the gang. Alongside the racial issues, they have to battle the difficult task of being a teen just trying to journey through life.
In general, I enjoyed watching the three shows. Luke Cage was a magnificent change to the normal super hero movies we watch every year. He is a strong character who I found to be very relatable. He worked hard to make a living and he wants everyone to be respected. In On The Block, I found it nostalgic to see these high school freshman trying to make their way through the beginning of high school and stressing about these smalls issues like looking good on picture day and worrying about rumors in school. Lastly, in Dear White People, even though I couldn’t relate to the show as much as some of the others, it did remind me of the racial issues I see on a university modern day.