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SDCC 2015: Supergirl Executive Producer Sarah Schechter "This Isn't A Runner Up Prize"

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

Let’s face it: Supergirl is important. As a character, as a new show, Supergirl is in the position to add some real change to the entertainment industry and comic book industry. When Emertainment sat down with Executive Producer Sarah Schechter at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), it became clear that this franchise was in the best possible hands.

“It’s really important and rewarding to be able to offer more diverse female characters. There aren’t enough of them in popular culture,” Schechter said during the interview. Currently, out of the 37 current and in development superhero shows, three of them feature a sole female lead: Agent Carter, Marvel’s AKA Jessica Jones, and Supergirl. While shows like Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, and The Flash certainly have female characters in their main cast, it’s hard to argue that they’re the titular and leading stars like these ladies are.

Let that sink in. Three out of 37 is only a tiny bit about 8%. “Women are 50, 51% of the population, but they’re not being reflected enough. To get the opportunity to expand that is rewarding,” Schechter said. “Knowing that little girls will see, on a weekly basis, not only the superheroes of Kara, but also of Cat and Alex, is really important. For both girls and boys.”

“What I love about Supergirl is her complexity, even moreso than Superman. We wanted to do a Supergirl show,” Schechter assured us. “This isn’t a runner up prize.” Nor should it be considered as a runner up prize. For those of you who might not know, Supergirl was created by Otto Binder, Al Plastino, and Curt Swan back in 1958 and has a rich history surrounding her character.

As for how similar this will be to the comics, Schechter was able to expand a bit more on the subject matter of the show. “She grew up without powers and when she was thirteen, she lost everyone she knew and came to a planet where suddenly she was different,” Schechter said. That relateable feeling of “being different” is something the show will explore heavily. “We live in a world that tells teenage girls they shouldn’t be different: they should suppress who they are and shouldn’t be their authentic selves. Kara falls victim to that. What’s so fun about Supergirl is that she wasn’t born with powers and she’s struggling to become all she’s capable of being, which I think is incredibly relateable and a great message. It reminds us to be all you can be, embrace everything about you, and be who you authentically are—it’s inspiring. I’m so excited we get to share that with our audience, girls and boys.”

Fans have asked for more diversity in the comic fandom for quite awhile. It’s clear from Schechter’s interview that the production team has tuned into those calls and sought to deliver. ““I think Greg and Andrew in particular have a great sense of what fans want. We all listen to them and we want shows that people love,” Schechter said. “So, for us, in anything we do narrative, we want complex characters with emotional depth. Comic book fans want that, everyone wants that. For there to be real drama and real problems, because that’s what we face in our daily lives. That’s how we approach storytelling.”

The response from the pilot, at least at San Diego Comic Con, was overwhelmingly positive. Schechter expanded on how the team takes on the responsibility of bringing one of the few portrayals of a woman lead in a comics-related show: “We want all of it to be great, but stunts and action without emotion… For me, even if it’s the best thirty minutes of action ever, if I don’t care about the characters, I’m thinking about what I’m making for dinner. So I think it’s really important to care about the characters, because then the action means something.”

“There are so many voices,” Schechter said, “and we feel so lucky to give Kara Zor-El her due.”

Supergirl premieres October 26, 2015 on CBS.

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