A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Be yourself. Don't shrink or hide to make others comfortable. It's important to find your center and regulate your emotions. Friendship and empathy are key, and teamwork, courage, and perseverance can be powerful forces. Even if you do bad things, you can still be a good person. It's important to communicate boundaries and to respect others' boundaries.
Positive Role Models
Dion is a kindhearted child who has a loving relationship with his mom. He's polite, respectful, and empathetic toward others. He also shows courage and perseverance in risking his own safety to protect others. Nicole is a widowed mom who has lots of challenges but is brave, empathetic, and resourceful, always putting her child first. Pat can be kind and encouraging but lets his hurt and ego take over, which leads him to do bad things. Esperanza is a girl with a zest for life and wry sense of humor. She's a loyal friend to Dion and has a strong self-image despite referring to herself as "invisible" (because she uses a wheelchair). Adults and children show importance of communication and teamwork.
Based on a comic book by Dennis Liu (Taiwanese American/Canadian), illustrated by Jason Piperberg (White American) and adapted by Carol Barbee (White American), the series centers on Dion, a Black boy with superpowers. He's being raised in a single-parent household following the death of his father. The cast is majority Black, and Dion's mother has a conversation with Dion about how he might be treated differently because of the color of his skin. The powerful CEO of biotech company Biona is played by Korean American actress Ali Ahn, and Black teachers and doctors, as well as women, appear in positions of authority. Dion has asthma; the importance of carrying his inhaler is shown, but it doesn't hold him back. His best friend, Esperanza, uses a wheelchair. Though the reason for this isn't mentioned in the show, actress Sammi Haney has brittle bone disease in real life. Her character is smart, outspoken, and creative, and she's part of the show's central friendship trio, the Triangle of Justice. A strong, protective, and kind adult mentions his anxiety disorder, showing that he can live successfully with it. Dion's aunt Kat is a lesbian, though her on-screen relationship comes and goes quickly. At one point, Dion tells his aunt that he knows sexuality is "a spectrum."
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Violence & Scariness
Big CGI monsters and battles, as well as special effects dangers like a scene in which Dion accidentally makes trees fall into a lake. Repeated flashbacks to a father drowning; he's shown bobbing in the water and gasping. Repeated mention of father's death, and deaths of other parents are later referenced. A branch knocks a child unconscious in the water, ghostly figures whisper, zombie-like creatures attack, a character has a fit and foams from the mouth, a rifle is used to threaten (but isn't shot), people are struck by lightning and fall down holes, an adult attacks and robs a child in the street, and a child is hooked up to machines in a hospital and injections are administered. (He's later forcefully taken away from his mother by men in hazmat suits.) Deaths are shown on-screen, with characters sucked up into the air by a supervillain. But there's very little blood or gore. A young character is bullied by classmates, mostly in the form of dirty looks, rolled eyes, and insults ("lame," "loser") rather than physical violence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Nicole has romantic tension with several characters -- expect kissing, flirting, and dating, as well as lots of talk of romance between her and her friends. She's shown kissing her husband romantically in flashbacks, and she kisses another man that she dates. A couple is seen in bed together (no nudity).
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Language includes "bastard," "ass," "pissed," "crap," "crappy," "hell," "damn," "shoot," and "oh my God," plus taunts such as "lame," "loser," "moron," "jerk," "nerd," and "freak." "Fart" and "butt" used in toilet humor jokes.
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Products & Purchases
Frequent Star Wars references, and Star Wars toys are shown on-screen. Additional comic book, movie, and TV references. Twix appears often as Dion's favorite candy. Microsoft, Nike Air Jordans, Philadelphia cheese, Google, Apple, and Amazon are all referenced in passing.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Nicole drinks wine at home to relax; in one scene, she pours a glass to take to the bath, then comes back for the bottle, but she's not shown drunk. Another scene sees Nicole and a friend drinking at a bar, and the two look slightly tipsy as they walk home. Characters are injected with various biotech treatments in a medical context.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Raising Dion is a TV series based on a comic book about a second-grader (Ja'Siah Young) who discovers that he has superpowers and his widowed mom (Alisha Wainwright), who isn't sure how to raise him and keep him safe. The death of Dion's father (Michael B. Jordan) is mentioned regularly, and there are flashbacks of his drowning. Expect near-constant threat/peril, with CGI battles and scenes with giant monsters and storms, as well as characters who are hooked to machines in a medical context. Schoolyard kids harass a main character, using mostly verbal threats rather than physical violence. Dion's mom talks to friends about romance and occasionally flirts and goes on dates. She kisses Dion's father in flashbacks and another man on a date. Language includes "bastard," "ass," and "crap," as well as name-calling. There's occasional potty humor, like when two characters decide that "Fart Boy" is a good superhero name. The cast is inclusive, centering on a young Black boy in a majority-Black cast, and a Korean American actress playing a woman in a powerful position. Dion's best friend is a girl who uses a wheelchair -- she's frank about the limitations of her body and calls herself "invisible" to the other students, and she's also hilarious, smart, and confident. Racism is directly discussed by characters and seen in an incident involving a White teacher at Dion's school. Characters show empathy, communication, courage, teamwork, and perseverance in challenging various levels of villainy.
Is It Any Good?
Combining a family redemption drama, a coming-of-age tale, and a superhero fable gives this delightful series an entirely fresh take on comic book adaptations. Raising Dion's inclusiveness with a majority-Black cast certainly adds to that accolade, as does its willingness to tackle important subjects, like racism. Superhero tales, including those that zero in on young heroes who haven't yet attained their full talents, generally pick up when their main character is a teen (when romantic subplots start to make sense) or in young adulthood (romance AND death battles!). But a 7-year-old with mysterious powers and a worried single mom trying to figure out just what her son can do and exactly what danger he's now in? That's far more rare as a setup for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's hard to find a young kid who can really act. But Raising Dion hit the jackpot with Young, who, just 8 years old when the first season came out, is outrageously adorable and suitably sympathetic as a second-grader caught between an otherworldly conflict and everyday kid worries.
As a widow trying her best to cope with the many obstacles and mysteries that life's throwing her way, Wainwright is great, too. Her scenes have an authentic and natural vibe that grounds the family drama in between scenes when lightning forks from the sky or objects float into the air as Dion tries desperately to control them. As she digs deeper into her husband's mysterious death, Nicole is easy to buy as an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary situation, just trying to keep her kid safe. And speaking of that husband ... whose decision was it to cast Black Panther heavyweight Jordan in what's essentially a bit part? Good call. With such a powerhouse actor in the role, Mark becomes less of a convenient plot device and more of a real presence, a ghost haunting his family and this series. Nicely done, Raising Dion.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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