Review: Raising Dion

Raising Dion is an American superhero, comic book streaming series on Netflix adapted from a 2015 comic book and short film from the same name. The basic premise is a widow, Nicole, raises her son, Dion, after the tragic loss of her husband, Mark, from an accident involving a, seemingly, freak electrical storm. On top of the standard struggles of raising a child as a single mother with low job prospects, Nicole soon finds that her young boy has developed superpowers. Now, she must protect Dion from anyone who would do him harm, keep his ever growing abilities secret, and navigate the basic day to day of simply living. However, there is an ominous force and power that appears to be taking out Powered individuals across the world; an unimaginable horror that may be a lot closer than Nicole realizes.

Superhero shows, and comic book based properties in general, are usually a bit of a mixed bag. Most are far more ambitious than what their budgets actually allow for. And there are certainly elements of that to be found in Raising Dion. Obviously, the “power” sequences are CGI or other special effects and used sparingly, probably for financial reasons. However, unlike other superhero shows, particularly those on the CW network, budget has not impacted the talent of writing and casting. Suffice to say, Raising Dion is far better than basically every CW comic book property but does not quite reach the levels of the Marvel, HBOMax, or Prime offerings. Though, to be fair, it is based on lesser known and popular IP (intellectual property) than the programming found on those streaming sites and network.

Every hero gets a team behind them…for reasons.

Still, the show does manage to craft an interesting narrative where the stakes and consequences make sense and actually follow a logical progression. Even the villain reveal in the latter half of the first season is justified and rational for what we’ve seen occur up to that point. Of course, the series is not without faults. The choices and actions of the titular Dion are at times annoying and verge on idiotic, and him being a child only goes so far. Children are inexperienced and curios, but most are not total morons who actively put themselves in danger. As well, Nicole’s actions and character are somewhat questionable from time to time, and her reactions and choices seem more inclined to continue and drag on a story than necessarily what an actual person would do.

But, these minor criticisms do not take away from the work as a whole. And, unlike most cape properties, Raising Dion does discuss social issues and themes without taking a sledgehammer to them or feeling like a badly planned Saturday morning PSA. In one scene early in the first season, Nicole deals with having the “talk” with Dion after he is unfairly punished at school. She is unsure of how to approach that important conversation wanting to protect her son and his innocence and kind heart while knowing that he needs to be prepared to how he will be seen and treated by many in the world. It is a difficult conversation to have that has no simple answer. Again, in other shows, this moment would feel tacked on or performed rather poorly, but here it is both organic and significant to the characters and the narrative being told at large.

It was kind of weird to see Jason Ritter in this. He is oddly good at playing this character…

This solidifies one of the strengths of the series: the willingness to show the full dimension of its characters. There are many, if not most of them, characters whose identity would be categorized as “other” or “minority” to some extent in the series. These traits and characteristics aren’t the defining features of these characters, but they are not ignored or set aside. In fact, in most instances they are directly acknowledged and even celebrated. Again this is done without feeling insincere or vying for some sort of brownie points. It is merely treated as a fact of life and weaved into the stories and lives of each character.

All in all, Raising Dion is not going to break barriers or win huge awards or become a huge cultural milestone or movement. However, it is a solid, entertaining series that can currently be viewed in its entirety in a weekend. And, it’s definitely one worth watching.

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