Two weeks ago, Netflix revealed that they had ordered a 10-episode, straight-to-series science fiction family drama from commercial and music video director Dennis Liu, forthcoming Black Panther villain Michael B. Jordan, veteran show-runner Carol Barbee (UnReal, Judging Amy), writer-producer Michael Green (American Gods, Logan) and Charles D. King’s MACRO (Fences). It is slated for release as an original Netflix production!
Based on Liu’s 2015 short film about an African-American single mother who discovers her young son has multiple, constantly changing abilities, Raising Dion will play out in hour-long episodes!
Liu ‘s comic book of the same name is illustrated by Jason Piperberg and served as source material for the short film, adapted by Barbee and directed by Liu.
Raising Dion, the series, will follow the challenges faced by Nicole Reese (Upenda Morton), bringing up her 7 year old son Dion (Nyri Howard) after the death of her husband Mark (Jordan). Dion starts to manifest magical, superhero-like abilities, and Nicole must figure out the origin and extent of her son’s gifts and how to raise him as a healthy, well-adjusted child, whilst balancing the normal dramas of raising a gifted son as a single mother. She enlists the help of Mark’s best friend Pat (James Clark), who is tagged in the trailer for role model duties.
Liu said, “I started this project many years ago because I wanted to see more diverse representation on film and television and I’m excited to partner with Netflix, who I know shares that commitment… 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.”
This is the first TV series order for MACRO, the multi-platform media company founded in 2015 by former WME partner King, with the goal of bringing diverse stories to film and TV. The company just raised an additional $150M in equity and debt financing to produce and finance four to six film and TV projects a year.
Cindy Holland, VP, Original Content for Netflix., said, “We haven’t seen this type of superhero story before — an origin myth full of imagination, wonder and adventure, all grounded in the experiences of a modern single mother… Michael B. Jordan is an exciting and dynamic talent, and I’m excited to see him, MACRO, Carol and the team translate Dennis’ unique vision to television.”
Barbee will serve as series showrunner and will executive produce alongside Liu, who will again also direct; Jordan will play a supporting role as Dion’s late father, and will also exec produce through his Outlier Society Productions, as will MACRO’s King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, Kenny Goodman, and Green.
With Liu and a different producing team attached last April, 2016, the project was slated for a series pickup pending pilot script approval. However, a decision was made to retool Raising Dion to avoid any potential overlap with Netflix’s breakout hit Stranger Things. Following a short writers room hiatus, the drama was back on track as of November 2016, and Jordan joined at the start of 2017. Casting started in February, though Jordan remains the only on-screen actor set to appear in the series
We are tentatively optimistic about this, particularly as it will add to the anticipation of the release of our Super Black Hero movie Black Panther, next February.
This trailer suggests a smart, sci fi production with sharply observational comedy and a great chemistry between mother and son. What is already worrying is the absent father theme and the role model assigned to his white best friend.
So, again, we have the promising diversity speech and another production full of potential, but after the execution of The Get Down, Dear White People (the movie), Detroit (movie), even The Incredible Jessica James and with the TBB jury still out on Star Trek: Discovery, subliminal negativity still prevails, as white characters remain as the aspirational/ role model/ saviour; colourism confers advantage of lighter skinned/ mixed heritage characters over darker skinned, and black women are still sassy/angry/ and now mutinous.
While we await release, you can download the first issue of the comic book for FREE, and purchase a physical copy from here.
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