On September 30th, Netflix blessed us with the release of Luke Cage. Since its release, there’s been nothing but abundant praise for the high level of black representation and history it incorporates throughout the storyline.

For those who may still be puzzled as to what makes the show stand out, here are five ways in which Luke Cage kept it brilliantly real:

1) A Bulletproof Black Man: With the amount of police shootings being recorded and reported on a monthly basis and the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, releasing a show that features a black superhero who refuses to be a target for anyone in his community highlights the vulnerability of black men in their social context. Cage’s power would have been a necessary blessing to all the lives that have been lost in recent years and those who live in fear daily.

2) A Non-Stereotyped Elderly Asian Couple: It’s rare to ever see minority groups that don’t fit people’s perceptions and mainstream stereotypes on screen. The fact that they speak English perfectly and are not represented as poor or lacking, (they run their own tenancy business and restaurant displays the successful amalgamation of immigrants in American culture), is something often under-represented in shows.

A 21st Century American couple, take that Donald Drumpf.

3) The Villains Are Developed: All the main characters are fighting for one thing; the soul of Harlem. Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, who is scary and will stop at no means to get his way, is also shown to be a result of what being brought up in a background of crime and evil can do to a person. His sister, Mariah Dillard, who truly wants what’s best for Harlem is very much like most modern day politicians, she’s willing to turn a blind eye to the violence that takes place for her to gain power.

4) Crispus Attucks: While many significant black heroes are mentioned throughout the series. Luke Cage’s reference to his own personal hero, Crispus Attucks, an African – American man who is considered to be the first person to step up and die for his country during the American revolutionary war was surprising. Very often, black heroes are skipped over in historical lessons and props to Netflix for bucking that trend.

5) The Hoodie: Luke Cage’s hoodie is a tribute to Trayvon Martin. In one particular scene, you see his head bowed down, his face isn’t visible but the bullet hole is very clear. This symbolises how victims of police violence are often assumed guilty and unquestioned, just because they’re black, which brings the phrase “Shoot first, ask questions later” to mind.

Luke Cage

While the characters hoodie is ostensibly a tribute to Trayvon Martin, it is unclear who the Beats headphones are a tribute toward.

Whether or not Netflix initially set out to make a political statement with this show is unclear. However, it undeniably pokes at people to wake up to the effects of gun violence, discrimination and low income communities in the states, all the while being an enjoyable watch.

Zainab Boladale