In the second season of Black Lightning, one character will seek professional help to process her new powered status.
In an interview with Variety, series executive producer and showrunner Salim Akil expanded on his decision to feature Jennifer (China Anne McCalin) in therapy during the second season. “We don’t believe in that sh*t, but we’re the No. 1 people who need it. After slavery and Jim Crow, they should have sent an army of therapists into the black communities to heal people,” he told the site. “All of the sh*t you see in our communities is because we haven’t healed properly from the amount of abuse and oppression, and if you can say that being raised by a bad parent f*cks your brain up and you pass it onto your children, than what do you think years and years and years and years of oppression has done to a whole group of people? And so I wanted to at least mention it — at least say, ‘Maybe we could get a little help.’”
While trying to send a positive message about therapy is the thematic underpinning of the story, Jennifer has plenty of specific reasons to talk to a therapist. For one thing, she has powers now, and that leads to a whole set of questions. As Akil put it, “It’s hard enough just being a young woman, then being a young black woman, and now having these powers that everybody’s afraid of.”
Her situation also reflects another thematic issue in the program’s sophomore year: Freeland Police using the Green Light epidemic to put down young black men. This year, the drug will more effectively create superpowers in its users and create a hysteria around those “most likely” to use it. It deepens the established metaphor and the series’ ongoing mediation on the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s.
And we would expect nothing less from Black Lightning, which uses the language of superheroes to comment on some tough issues.
Black Lightning returns October 9th on The CW.