Raising Dion

Using a mostly unknown cast, this superhero, sci-fi, romantic, scary series succeeds on every level.  Dion and his mum Nicole live in Atlanta and from the first scene, we find out that Dion has developed some super powers.  What sets this apart from your typical superhero movie is love at its very heart; the bond between Dion (Ja’Siah Young) and Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) is beautiful to watch.  Nicole is a former party girl with a talent and a promising career who just happens to fall in love, have a baby then lose her husband.  At certain points, this show sets aside the superhero stuff and we see how Nicole is coping, what she’s feeling and what she’s dreaming about. We see her not just as a mother but as a young woman.

Ja’Siah Young perfectly encapsulates what you might expect from a 7 year old who’s just discovered he can make things fly with his mind (among other things) – he’s scared but he’s also REALLY excited.

Besides Ja’Siah, the young talent in this show is outstanding and special mention goes to Sammi Haney as Dion’s friend Esperanza. I fell in love with her so much, she’s fearless, pragmatic, wise and really funny. This is her first acting role, stealing every scene, she drops some properly funny quips. One lovely touch is that Sammy’s real Dad, Matt, also appears very briefly in the show as her characters’ Dad.

It feels like a show imbued with integrity and unexpectedly for a show in this particular genre, themes of race, disability and sexuality are also touched on, and very deftly handled. There were some issues raised that hadn’t ever occurred to me, and it’s evident that these parts of human life need sharing in a variety of accessible ways to increase understanding.

It seems commonplace now to say this about television these days but the production values are the same as you’d expect from a movie. The SFX are especially stunning and create fantastic things that look real; the choice of music throughout is perfect as well. The piano reprise of Lauren Daigle’s ‘You Say’ while Nicole dances on her own is just beautiful.

Michael B. Jordan (Creed / Black Panther) produces this series as well as appearing in a supporting role as Dion’s father, Mark. In the flashbacks to before the incident that takes him from his family, he has perfect chemistry with Alisha Wainwright and Ja’Siah Young. This is a burgeoning family that we care about really quickly and so the later separation becomes more poignant.

Jason Ritter (I was big fan of his Dad, John) is dependably good as Mark’s friend and colleague, and latterly the ever-reliable shoulder for Nicole and Dion. I’d only seen Jason in the short-lived ‘The Event’ (which I’d really enjoyed).

I’m very much looking forward to season two.

CastAlisha Wainwright, as Nicole Reese
Ja’Siah Young, as Dion Warren
Jason Ritter, as Pat Rollins
Michael B. Jordan, as Mark Warren
Sammi Haney, as Esperanza Jiminez
SeasonS1 (2019): 9 episodes