Superman and Lois is about to premiere in 2021 and the series is facing backlash for recent revelations of what’s happening behind the scenes, having no LGBTQ+ representation, and the villain being the only Black man.
With former Flash showrunner, Todd Helbing, at the helm of Superman and Lois season 1, it seems like a desperate scream into the void for positive representation and progress to be in the spotlight. This is a show that is going to reach so many, considering the popularity of the lead hero (and this being a new story, for TV, with Clark and Lois as parents).
Recently, it’s been revealed that the direction being taken in the writers’ room is even worse than anticipated, and it seems pointless to hope for more from Superman and Lois. But let’s still try to hope for more.
Issues with ‘Superman and Lois’ already
In some ways, the Arrow-verse is progressing. We’re about to witness a Black, lesbian hero take charge as the series lead on Batwoman, which also boasts a very diversified cast and crew (including the writers). But in others, like we’re seeing with Superman and Lois before it even premieres, progress seems at a standstill. How can these two shows exist in the same universe?
Recently, a former Superman and Lois writer came forward on Twitter to discuss how she was recently let go of the show and disclosed some of the issues she was speaking out against that had arisen in the writers’ room.
of me defending the Bechdel test, of me FIGHTING to ensure the only Black faces on screen aren't villains, of me pitching stories for female characters (there's one in the title of the series!) that went ignored.
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If I sound bitter, it's because this one stings. 2/3
— Nadria✨👑 (@NadriaTucker) November 6, 2020
It’s incredibly disheartening to see that Superman and Lois is led by those who think social issues are a joke and aren’t interested in making positive change in the world with their platform and showcasing important, powerful representation.
No, instead the characters are all going to be heterosexual and the only Black man on the series is a villain. Not to mention that Lana Lang’s husband, a POC, is likely going to be villainized. It has been teased that their marriage is unhealthy and rumored that he’s struggling with alcoholism.
It’s also not a great sign that Superman and Lois is probably not going to focus on developing friendships between the women, given that Lois Lane is a main character in the title. Seems like we’re going to see the working mom from a straight, white man’s perspective, which is to say that they think she won’t be able to do both things and will constantly have to choose, whereas Clark will easily balance his responsibilities.
Show that Superman is not for a certain audience
Personally, I’m hoping someone powerful steps in and demands progress because there are far too many bigots who are under the impression that Superman and Lois is a show for them and that Superman is a character for them. It doesn’t make any sense considering Clark is technically an immigrant (and here illegally, at that) and has always expressed that he is a man of the people, particularly there to protect those who are not in the position to fend for themselves.
Arrow didn’t do enough to shun that audience, nor has The Flash, instead skirting the line constantly to avoid making (too many) waves and alienating the audience. Meanwhile, Supergirl (for all its faults) and Batwoman have completely shunned that audience, showing that those heroes are not there to keep the bigots entertained (which is why both, particularly the latter, were review bombed online).
One simple way to make some sort of progress toward being more inclusive on Superman and Lois would be to make one of Lois and Clark’s kids gay (or bisexual). Both kids, Jon and Jordan, are going to be at young high school age, which is the perfect time for one of them to be exploring who they are, including what their sexuality may be.
Pair that with both children discovering their father is Superman (because they are in the dark) and they’re aliens and it’s a perfect recipe for one of the boys to have an existential crisis when not even his sexuality is clear to him. It could be such a great way to bring the boys together, too, which we rarely see from brothers on TV when one of them is gay.
It would also be another great way to show that Superman is not a character representative of those whose views are hateful, showing how Clark and Lois embrace their son and his sexuality and how they both make an effort to understand him.
Given that Jon is a comic character and Jordan is not, it seems more likely that they would take this creative choice with Jordan, but imagine if we were to get a gay Superboy. That would be groundbreaking… but groundbreaking is probably not what we can expect from the future of Superman and Lois.
I had hoped, in 2020/21, that Superman and Lois would take a different approach, especially after The CW’s vow to do better earlier in the year. Alas, it doesn’t seem likely, which is just incredibly disappointing because of how excited I am to see Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch in these roles full-time (and how excited the cast is).
If we make enough noise, perhaps there can be change at Superman and Lois, on and off of the screen. But there needs to be a lot of change. Maybe Jimmy Olsen could make his return to the Arrow-verse, potentially with a new face (still a Black man, obviously) gifted from “Crisis on Infinite Earths” if Mehcad Brooks does not want to return. Perhaps one of the couple’s kids will be gay, and maybe the Lang-Cushing family will exceed expectations and become positive representation for POC.
But most of all, a new writing team needs to be established that is actually concerned with the message they put out in the world. Thank you Nadria Tucker for bringing the issues in the writers’ room to light, and I sincerely hope that the backlash the show is already receiving will be a wake-up call to Greg Berlanti and The CW.
Superman and Lois premieres Tuesday, February 23 at 9 p.m. on The CW. Stay tuned for news, reviews, previews, and interviews as the season inches closer!