It looks like Greg Berlanti is trying to own all of superhero broadcast television. He’s involved in two of the five current DC Comics TV shows (ahem, his shows are doing the best too — is Constantine still on the air? Sorry Constantine fans.) with a few other shows on other networks (like Mysteries of Laura on NBC). His latest venture will be Supergirl over on CBS, co-produced with Ali Adler (Chuck, The New Normal, No Ordinary Family).
Melissa Benoist (Glee) will be playing Supergirl, but as much interest as I already had in the show (knowing it’s a part of the Flarrow universe), I became about 1000% more excited when I learned that Jimmy Olsen will be played by Mehcad Brooks. A lot of people know him from Necessary Roughness or Desperate Housewives, but I am just excited that they’re casting a person of color in a lead role. A lead romantic role, if The Hollywood Reporter’s description reigns true (though I have a bone to pick with a part of it — more on that later).
I will admit, most of what I know about Superman comes from Lois and Clark the New Adventures of Superman (sorry?) and a few Superman cartoon moments, but Jimmy Olsen isn’t exactly the coolest character in the Superman universe. So will this Jimmy Olsen be a black nerd? Only time will tell. Why is he in National City and not Metropolis? The Hollywood Reporter describes him as “salt of the earth.” I have so many questions and so much more interest in seeing this show do well. As much as I wish that the lead in a live-action superhero show were given the chance to be a person of color (a woman of color, can we please?!), I am glad that they’ve taken a chance on “nontraditional” casting. As we’ve been proving this entire TV season, a diverse cast really will get you the ratings you want (cough How to Get Away with Murder, Black-ish, Empire coughcough).
Unfortunately, this means that there will be tons of fans up in arms about how Jimmy Olsen isn’t black (he’s traditionally a redhead, like another comic character who’s been racebent in recent months) and how that’s somehow a problem? (Don’t look in the #Supergirl tag on Twitter. I accidentally did and now my head hurts. I’m sure it’s worse on forums.)
They’d better get used to this. Johnny Storm, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, Thor, and Annie all no longer look like they used to. The cities that Berlanti’s shows populate are filled with people of color (hmm, well, Arrow needs to still work on this some more), like real cities across America. They’ve just cast one black person as the supporting lead of the show, and people are already upset — when really, it’s not even enough. It’s a shame that every time there is a race or gender switch in a character, there needs to be articles like this one that show their support for those choices, just to drown out the idiots who have a problem with it.
Well Mehcad, I and a lot of other nerds of color are excited to see what you bring to the Supergirl Universe. I would love for him to be the Felicity of the show, the character everyone falls in love with and can’t be a hero without. There are so many awesome possibilities and I am Super excited for all of them (that was on purpose, DRINK). Now we just need someone to get a black superhero as the lead (how long until Luke Cage debuts on Netflix)?
And if I may for a moment, I have a bone to pick with whoever wrote the Supergirl description on The Hollywood Reporter.
“Now 24, Kara feels un-empowered, a slave to having repressed her innate abilities. She’s still pretty, but with her face hidden behind glasses and her hair pulled back, she doesn’t know it herself.”
Ugh, really? A “she doesn’t know she’s beautiful” thing? I really want to trust Berlanti and his team more than that — if I can go with how they’ve treated glasses and ponytail wearing Felicity, then I can’t see them pulling a One Direction on Supergirl. Felicity is desired and feels beautiful both in her glasses and without. She has three superheroes vying for her attention for goodness sakes! So let’s stop with the “takes her hair down and suddenly she’s a babe” thing.
I know that the glasses are an important part of the Superman mythos, but Clark Kent was never ugly or felt insecure once he had the glasses on. It was a disguise (a magic, paper thin disguise). So let’s not pretend that girls in glasses aren’t attractive and can’t feel attractive — unless this is a key character learning point. But somehow I blame this line on bad PR. Again, time will tell, but I had to express my annoyance at that description, because it’s a tired, sexist move and I’m hoping we’re past that.
Supergirl won’t hit our screens for a while, but let’s show Mehcad Brooks some support, he seems earnest and thankful for the opportunity.
Lastly, I’ve been singing this song from The Princess Diaries soundtrack all day.