ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: The following contains mild SPOILERS for Netflix's recently released Luke Cage Season 1, albeit ones limited to the first four episodes of the show. Proceed with caution all the same if you're not yet all caught up, though.)

Now, if you're looking for a solid 13-episode stretch of complex, intelligent drama with a largely African-American cast, then odds are you're either reading this article while watching Luke Cage, or after finishing up a second run-through. As far as refutations of a previous lack of diversity go, it's pretty darned fantastic — not least because it carefully avoids as many simplistic stereotypes as possible, while being generally excellent.

For Marvel and Netflix, though, the biggest diversity-related controversy of late has actually involved a different group that's widely under-represented on television (and in movies: Asian-Americans. Between the clamor to re-cast Iron Fist as an Asian-American, and the widespread condemnation of Marvel Studios' "white-washing" of The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, Marvel's treatment of its Asian characters has been big news of late — not least because the Netflix shows we've seen thus far have tended to treat their Asian characters as stock villains and inveterate criminals. And, so...

The Way Luke Cage Represents Asian-Americans Really Does Matter

[Luke Cage/Netflix]
[Luke Cage/Netflix]

Fortunately, then, it did a damn fine job. The likes of "Genghis" Connie and her husband Jin (above) may not have had a huge amount of screen-time, but as several Twitter users pointed out after the show's debut, they sure did make up for that by being a) awesome, and b) complex, non-stereotyped characters.

What's more, the restaurant-owning duo (played by Jade Wu and Clem Cheung respectively) pulled off something extremely rare in modern-day television: They spoke pretty much perfect English. Which, in a television landscape that routinely insists that older Asian-Americans can't speak English without a thick accent and severe limitations on their language use (despite countless actual, real-life Asian-Americans having managed to adapt just fine, thank you very much). What's more, as Buzzfeed's Susan Cheng points out, Jin responds to a criminal's antagonistic comment ("You've been in this country how long, and you still can't speak English?") in "the best way possible": By pointing out that "My English is just fine!" with pitch-perfect timing (and, notably, colloquial use of the language).

[Luke Cage/Netflix]
[Luke Cage/Netflix]

Twitter, unsurprisingly, was thrilled:

In other words? Way to go, entire creative team behind Luke Cage. You managed to actually represent a bunch of aspects of modern America that pretty much every other TV show of the past 50 years has routinely ignored. Now if you could just stop overloading Netflix so we can go back and watch you again, that'd be great.

Still want more on Luke Cage, though? Check out everything you need to know right here, or check out some of the show's earliest Easter Eggs just below:

In the meantime, what do you think? Were you happy with the representation and diversity in Luke Cage, or do you think the show should have done more? Let us know below!


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