During the Television Critics Association tour, we had a chance to attend a Q&A with the producers of Supergirl, Sarah Schechter and Ali Adler. For its new season on The CW, Supergirl has added Tyler Hoechlin to the cast as Superman/Clark Kent, Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor, and Floriana Lima as Maggie Sawyer, in addition to Lynda Carter as The President and Andrea Brooks as Eve Tessmacher.
Here’s what they told us…
You’ve talked about why you waited to introduce Superman, to give Kara the focus in the first season. Now that you’re bringing Superman in, what does it allow you to do narratively and thematically?
Ali Adler: I think we got to introduce her as her and it’s her show and it’s her point of view. We just really wanted it to be through that lens. I think we talked about that before. Honestly, I don’t think DC was ready to make him available to us until the time.
Sarah Schechter: I would say more importantly, in season one, it was really all about Kara. Audiences needed to fall in love with her which I think they have. The show is about her and yet by season two, the show is very much about family. It’s the family you make but it’s also the family you’re born with. To not have Superman at that point…
AA: We would be remiss to not explore her super famous cousin.
SS: But we never wanted to do it before potentially before the finale of last year just because it’s her show.
Is he in every episode now?
SS: It’s her show.
AA: He’s dropping by.
SS: Supergirl doesn’t need Superman every week.
AA: He’s in Metropolis.
Can Superman appear on any of your other shows?
AA: Caaaaaan heeeee?
SS: Well, they’re in their own dimension.
AA: Different worlds.
What do we know about Maggie Swayer?
AA: Well, Maggie Sawyer is an amazing character from the DC universe who is a badass, who is a gay character, who we’re bringing in who is so cool. The actress, Floriana Lima, is amazing. We’re so excited to get started with her. It’s just going to be an amazing addition to our cast.
Will she have a romance?
SS: What’s important for us in Supergirl is that all the women on the show are really strong. I mean, it’s important on all of our shows and I think you see that in all of the shows, on Arrow, Flash and Legends. Supergirl, much like we were talking about if you have a great villain, it elevates your hero, if you have a strong woman, you want to surround her with other strong women. Maggie is sort of suspicious, she’s grounded, she’s not a superhero. She’s a regular real life hero.
AA: She’s a hero in life. I think what’s cool about this season is we can have an opportunity here to explore more of people’s personal lives. Last year was about seeking their professional success. She became an amazing superhero. She became a hero a work and got a promotion. Now everyone across the board’s life is being explored behind the scenes of their professional life. I think it’s a really cool way to start next season.
How did you cast Katie McGrath as Lena Luthor?
AA: She’s awesome.
SS: She is so cool and so great.
AA: And devilish, a wonderful personality.
SS: And everyone on set is just absolutely in love with her.
How much does her dynamic with Kara mirror the Lex and Clark dynamic?
AA: What’s exciting for us I think is that she finally gets a friend that isn’t a sister and that isn’t an adversary and that she gets a peer and gets to discuss her personal and professional goals with.
SS: What’s great about doing television is you don’t have to jam everything into two hours. So you can really have a complicated and grounded relationship. I think Lena presents herself as having very, very different goals than her brother. That allows us to really have a more complicated and interesting relationship.
AA: We talk about, as the model a little bit, the values of a democrat and the values of a republican clashing but they can still be friends. We see that with Ivanka and Chelsea. They are two people that respect each other’s values but wouldn’t naturally be friends initially.
Will the songs for the musical episode be original songs?
SS: No, no, no. Maybe one original and others would be established.
AA: Maybe one, but covers.
Who’s responsible for writing those episodes, your team or The Flash’s?
SS: Greg and Andrew are on both, so.
AA: We have a musical director and one composer. It’s a lot of heads getting together.
SS: Yeah, it’s the same composer for both shows so that makes it easier.
AA: I think we’re still working it all out. It’s towards the back half of this season and we’re working so hard.
SS: On the first crossover, so that’s the main goal right now.
One of the greatest moments was when Kara heard a girl being picked on and flew down to say they were friends. Will she still have time to do good deeds like that?
SS: Always. She’ll always have time.
AA: That’s really what Supergirl is about. If you save one person, you save the world. I think then we all learn that we’re all super and together we can do this. Stronger together. Didn’t we say it before the Clinton campaign?
SS: We’re happy to share with them.
Why do you think TV is doing better with female superheroes than movies are?
AA: Well, Suicide Squad is pretty amazing and Wonder Woman we’re all amazing. That’s a big female superhero that I hope dominates the box office. I don’ know. I think us being one of the first at least, Sidney Bristow, I think people needed to see her and then they believe her.
SS: But it’s a problem in television and in films. Television in general can respond faster than film to the world. That’s one of the great things about television, but I think the answer is very complicated. I would argue that there’s probably a lot of sexism buried in that answer.
Supergirl returns Monday, October 10 at 8PM on The CW.