The ‘Black Lightning’ Discussion That Was Supposed to Be About ‘This Is America’ (Podcast)

Let’s talk about CW’s Blaxploitation-lite superhero series

black lightning
The CW

Sometimes you sit down to talk about one thing and end up going in a totally different direction than you planned. That’s what happens in the latest “Low Key” podcast, in which we set out to talk about Donald Glover’s provocative “This Is America” and ended up praising CW’s Blaxploitation-lite superhero series, “Black Lightning.”

You can listen on Apple or right here:

Both “This Is America’ and “Black Lightning” use familiar, friendly mediums — music, dance, superheroes — to delve into serious issues that are beyond uncomfortable to talk about, like gun violence and racial profiling. In this episode of “Low Key,” Aaron Lanton, Keith Dennie and me talk about how we responded to the deliberately jarring, confusing images in “This Is America,” and that led to an eye-opening talk about why white and black Americans can have very different expectations of law-enforcement interactions.

If you aren’t watching “Black Lightning,” the CW series stars Cress Williams as high school principal Jefferson Pierce — who moonlights as superhero Black Lightning. The show goes to surprising places, especially with an aside about drug dealing that’s somewhat reminiscent of the “Hamsterdam” season of “The Wire.”

You already know what “This Is America” is.

If you like this episode of the podcast, please take a second to review us on iTunes. And feel free to hit us up with your thoughts on the episode, anything else we should cover, and what other superhero shows we should be watching. I’m @timamolloy, Aaron is @alanton11, and Keith is too cool for Twitter but we can pass along fan mail.