What would you do if you found out that your 7-year-old son had superpowers (right after freaking out, of course)? Well, Raising Dion — a new show coming to Netflix — explores that question. Because parenting isn’t hard enough as it is, I suppose.
Not only does the story revolve around a young child, but Dion and his parents are black. Dion is being raised by his mom, Nicole, after his father (played by Michael B. Jordan, who is also the show’s producer) dies. Nicole has to navigate the challenges of being a single mother along with parenting a young man with strange powers.
Raising Dion, based on a comic book by Dennis Liu, doesn’t yet have a Netflix premiere date, but it is already generating a lot of buzz for several reasons. Dion is a little boy who goes from being a typical 7-year-old to a superhero seemingly overnight. He’s also being actively raised by a single mother, and his family is black.
As a black single mother, I am so here for this. It is rare that young black kids get to see other young black kids in such powerful and amazing roles, and representation matters.
Creator Dennis Liu explained why he conceived the character of Dion, and how necessary he is in 2017: “More than ever, we need more stories told from different points of view, and my hope with Raising Dion is to create a cinematic experience for all families that will lift your spirits and make you laugh and cry.”
Based on the short film making its way around the internet, the show seems to revolve around how Nicole and Dion learn to work with and live with Dion’s powers. He’s a 7-year-old boy so, of course, he’s going to be a typical little kid.
A perfect example: the scene where Dion is lying on the floor, trying to levitate his iPad off a high shelf so he can have some screen time. “Put that iPad down,” she warns without ever looking up from her book.
“Dion, you better not be naked out there,” she yells in another scene where he has gone missing and she sees a pile of his clothes on the floor. In another scene, Dion is able to create a fire-like current from his hands and they roast marshmallows together. And no one will forget the scene where he lifts a dog into midair with his mind. Just wow.
Nicole and Dion live in New York City, where it’s theoretically easy to blend in while also standing out. And chances are, a little boy who can make body parts disappear is going to turn some heads. To help Dion manage his powers, his mom creates a book for him called, “When to Use Your Powers,” but really, it is a guide for both of them. She is obviously out of her element in a number of ways. Then again, as a single mom to a little boy, feeling out of your element is just par for the course some days. Add in the superpowers? Well, that would be too much. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it.
Nicole enlists the help of her late husband’s best friend, Pat, to help film Dion daily so they can keep track of his powers and the progress he makes as he learns how to use them. He gains powers and loses powers, and some of them become stronger and more dangerous. And when men in black suits and sunglasses begin following them, Nicole has to quickly figure out how to protect her son and herself.
Only one issue of the comic book and a short film have been released, so we can only guess what the 10-episode Netflix season has in store. As a viewer, I hope the show explores the challenges of being a single mom raising a son and being a family of color in a major city. And since there are so few superheroes of color, I hope they dig deep into what it means to carry his blackness and his powers with pride. This is such a strong message to send to young kids of color who have so few examples of a strong black mother and a strong black child on television. And lately, there aren’t many superhero stories that are truly kid-friendly.
Even though there isn’t a premiere date set for Raising Dion, you can still add it to your Netflix list. Hopefully, Dion uses his superpowers to bring the show to light, so we don’t have to wait too much longer.