Focusing on the city of Freeland and the citizens who live there, the show tends to favor how consequences affect the characters rather than interpersonal drama driving the tension. And that's by design, according to co-showrunner Salim Akil.
The producer spoke with Collider about at the TCA Winter Press Tour, revealing Black Lightning is everything he wanted to see in a superhero series.
"I asked myself, if I was gonna do a superhero show, what I wanted him to do. I wanted him to f**king go into Richmond or Chicago or Watts, or whatever city was suffering from gun violence and drugs, and clean it up," Akil said. "I knew I had to do it a certain way, and I knew I had to do it as honestly as I could. I didn’t want to do a show where violence was impersonal, or where you could watch it and never notice it. I wanted to do a show where, when the violence happened, you were like, 'Oh, shit!'"
"So, when we first had the idea to shoot LaWanda, everybody was like, 'No, you can’t shoot a mom!' But we did, and I think people will feel it because that character felt so real. That actress did such a great job. So, yeah, I did want it to be a completely different type of feel."
Unlike many other superhero shows, Black Lightning is more about the consequences of power and violence rather than glorifying those aspects to push the narrative forward, as evidenced in tonight's episode.
"Episode 3 is called 'LaWanda: The Book of Burial,' ‘cause we bury her. Just because she died in Episode 2, she doesn’t go away," Akil said. "We see the consequences on the community and how they react to it. I don’t think I’ll ever do a show with violence where there’s no consequences ‘cause I know the consequences. I’ve experienced them. I’ve worked in a mortuary and seen the consequences of what guns and knives do to people. I’ve buried people. I’ve held people in my arms who were bleeding from gunshot wounds. There’s no way for me to disassociate myself from that and make it look pretty."
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.