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Commentary

It's Time to Talk About Lupin's Problematic Lack of Black Women

Lupin frowning

For all of the nuanced ways that Netflix’s wildly popular Lupin addresses race and immigrant culture in Parisian society, the caper drama misses the boat with Black women.

It’s an omission that has caused rancor in both social and traditional media, on a global scale, from the moment the show’s magnetic and handsome star, Omar Sy, first flashed his signature smirk as Assane Diop in January’s series premiere. Those same fans were further disappointed when Lupin Season 2 kicked off in June and producers attempted to dial up its Black woman quotient by briefly adding a biracial police woman in one scene, and playing a Lizzo song in another (more on that later).

Needless to say, both actions ultimately failed to move the needle, and in some ways only further underscored the dearth in representation.

While there are some who have bemoaned the fact that all of Assane’s love interests and friends are white, that could just as easily be associated with proximity. (After all, he attended a predominantly white school.) The more confounding element is that his Black mother is nonexistent — even in flashbacks. Assane, a master thief and diehard Arsene Lupin fan who burglarizes the rich much like his hero, does so only to avenge the wrongful imprisonment and death of his father, who is shown via past recollections. But Assane never mentions his mom. There’s not even a photo.

Perhaps Lupin creators George Kay and Francois Uzan genuinely didn’t comprehend the importance of representation … the first time around. But the adjustments made in Season 2 suggest an attempt to do too little too late, and the series would have benefitted from writers or a consultancy team of color. After all, even Lupin believes in the power of numbers.

Here are seven faux pas the EPs could’ve avoided regarding Black women — and points worth considering before the start of Season 3.