Warning: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 8 of Cloak and Dagger.
When fans heard that Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger would be airing on Freeform, there was some confusion. For those who never check in with the network, Freeform, known for girl-centric teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars, didn’t seem like a good fit for the relatively dark, socially-relevant superhero show.
Anyone who watches Freeform, however, knows that the network is and has been telling some of the most exciting, progressive stories on TV for a while now. Cloak and Dagger showrunner Joe Pokaski thinks so, too. Den of Geek had a chance to talk to the executive producer of Marvel’s latest TV property at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con.
“You have to give Freeform a lot of credit,” said Pokaski, pointing out progressive, nuanced shows like The Fosters as examples of the kind of brave, socially-relevant, sometimes dark storytelling Freeform is supporting. “They’ve had shows about addiction … They’re looking to do a show about immigration. I think The Bold Type is one of the most aggressively feminist shows out there. So, they’re down to play. Every once in a while you’ll have to explain your intent, but they’re almost always willing to push the envelope a little further.”
Freeform’s willingness to feature dark, complicated issues has grounded Tandy and Tyrone’s exploration of their burgeoning superpowers in some very real issues.
“They were very supportive,” Pokaski said of Freeform’s response to including issues like domestic abuse, drug use, police brutality, and sexual assault in the show. “I was always getting my Irish up, getting ready for a fight when I’d come at them. It was interesting, even with the Fuchs stuff, they were like, ‘Do you think it’s necessary?'”
Fuchs, O’Reilley’s cop co-worker, occasional bootie call, and recent ally in the fight to bring Connors to justice was killed and stuffed in a refrigerator in last week’s episode, a gendered subversion of the Women in Refrigerators trope that continues to be problematically featured in comic books and comic book adaptations. Pokaski said that, as soon as Freeform learned more about the trope, they were on board with the story element.
“I literally had to send them to look at the Wikipedia page for women in refrigerators,” recounted Pokaski. “They were like, ‘Oh we like this.’ I’m like, ‘I can’t believe I had to send it to you guys.'”
Read the Den of Geek SDCC 2018 Special Edition Magazine Here!
The appreciation is mutual. When Den of Geek talked to Freeform President Tom Ascheim last month about bringing Cloak and Dagger to Freeform, he called the process “a battle” because that‘s how much Freeform wanted Cloak and Dagger on their network.
“They were reluctant,” said Ascheim. “They wanted to be on Netflix and ABC. We made a lot of calls. If you talk to the Marvel people, I think they’ve had an incredible experience. They love this show and you can feel it.”
Given that Cloak and Dagger has recently been renewed for a second season, the partnership seems to be working out for everyone involved. Freeform is in the superhero business, and they haven’t had to sacrifice an ounce of brand precision to do so—no matter what non-Freeform watchers may think.