So if you were online at all in the past month, your timeline was probably littered with posts on Netflix’s new Marvel series, Luke Cage. Even though we were watching the show in our perspective homes pretty much as soon as it came out, it felt like we were all in the same room because we just kept commenting on each other’s social media about the show. The obsession was instantaneous — and we weren’t the only ones who felt that way. Luke Cage was so popular when it first dropped that Netflix went down across the US, UK, AND Ireland for a few hours on that Saturday.
We’re still working through rewatching the series, but we already know that if you are not watching Luke Cage, you are missing out. Here’s why.
OK, we know pretty much every TV show and movie is based in New York City, so you might be rolling your eyes but hear us out. The NYC portrayed in Luke Cage is an NYC we rarely see and it’s great it’s finally getting some mainstream love. The show takes place in current day Harlem (with other uptown neighborhoods such as Washington Heights and Hamilton Heights making an appearance). Getting to explore the famous neighborhood in modern day life for 13 episodes is quite special. Normally, when Harlem is portrayed in fictional mainstream media, it’s usually in a period piece. Luke Cage’s depiction of Harlem is a more realistic representation of what it’s really like to live in the Big Apple. Don’t let Sex in the City and Girls fool you.
One of the first things you will notice when watching the series are the references to black history, art, literature, music, slang, everything. The show’s creator and showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker explained to The Daily Beast why his racial identity was central to the series: “All black art is always judged to illuminate our experience and prove that our stories and our history and our lives matter. And that goes back to Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, take your pick. Telling this kind of story is no different.” He continued, “It was important to me that we have a hero that was black — and he didn’t just happen to be black. His identity is a part of him.”
Misty Knight, Mariah Dillard, Claire Temple, Inspector Priscilla Ridley to name a few. Luke Cage has so many amazing women and none of them are white! How many TV shows have had these many women of color period? And how many women of color (or women in general) are given nuance and depth? Coker finally brought television to the 21st century.
In addition to the incredible women characters, everybody is freaking about the show’s music. Coker was a hip-hop journalist and brought his deep knowledge of the genre and music into the series. Each episode is named after a Gang Starr song and the soundtrack features hip-hop legends such as Wu-Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest and musical icons such as Nina Simone.
OK, this one is personal: I grew up on Cuban coffee and drink Bustelo every morning so this little nugget from my culture brought tears of joy and nostalgia to my eyes.