SDCC 2016: 'Supergirl' EP Sarah Schechter Says "I Want Girls and Boys to Realize That Girls Can Do Anything."

Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

In a world dominated by male superheroes, Supergirl burst onto the TV scene last year. Originally premiering on CBS, Supergirl presented a perfect role model for little girls across the nation. The impact of the TV show was especially prevalent at SDCC 2016, when at any moment you could spot a little girl dressed as Supergirl.

At SDCC 2016, Supergirl Executive Producer Sarah Schechter chats about season 2 plans, Calista Flockhart, the monumental 4-part crossover and the cultural impact of Supergirl.

One of the biggest addition to season two of Supergirl is Superman, portrayed by Teen Wolf alum Tyler Hoechlin. Sarah Schechter says that leaving Superman out of the first season was in no way related to maintaining continuity with the DC film universe. She explains, “DC has made it quite clear that there is a film universe and a television universe. So, it wasn’t out of deference to the film universe, it was out of deference to establishing Supergirl [Melissa Benoist].”

Schechter never wanted Supergirl’s establishing season to be overshadowed by the arrival of Superman. She says, “The show is not about Superman. It was really establishing Kara and her strength and she’s the center of this show and not wanting to distract from that. Now that we are going into season 2, we feel like we’ve done that.” She continues, “It’s so clearly her show, she’s so clearly equal to Superman that now we felt like we could bring him in.”

Melissa Benoist in season 1 of Supergirl. Photo Credit: CBS
Melissa Benoist in season 1 of Supergirl. Photo Credit: CBS

Supergirl is one of very few superhero TV shows to feature a female lead. In an age ruled by superhero movies and TV shows it’s important for young girls to have someone they can look up to within this world. Schechter discusses the importance of Supergirl saying, “I think it’s important to the fans. I think it’s important to the world. I think it’s important to little girls and I think it’s really important to little boys. I think that women are as strong as men.” She continues saying, “I want girls and boys to realize that girls can do anything that boys can do and can be just as strong and just as much of a badass.”

Speaking to her other shows, co-executive produced with Greg Berlanti, Schechter says, “I think Greg Berlanti and I have really strong women on all of our shows from Blindspot through all the superhero shows. So, we’re really proud of it and we just hope that there are more female superheroes and heroes on television.”

On the subject of growing up with female superhero role models, Schechter speaks to her own upbringing with superheroes. She says her “absolute favorite superhero movies are Dick Donner’s Superman movies.” In terms of a favorite female superhero, she reminisces saying, “Supergirl wasn’t as prominent and didn’t seem like a tier 1 choice. I think a lot of little girls, and myself included, grew up having to align ourselves with male heroes.” Something she hopes Supergirl will help change.

Schechter remarks, “Now, I think it’s so awesome that girls don’t have to do that. It doesn’t mean they can’t. It doesn’t mean they can’t, but it’s just nice that they can have people at the same level as. So, in my mind Cat Grant [Flockhart] handles that well in the pilot, but it’s more in the spirit of Kathleen Hanna and Riot Grrrl that we’re taking ‘girl’ back. It’s not a less than.”

Calista Flockhart in the Supergirl episode "Livewire." Photo Credit: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment
Calista Flockhart in the Supergirl episode “Livewire.” Photo Credit: Darren Michaels/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Jumping more into season two, season one of Supergirl ended on a major cliffhanger for fans. In the last minute, Supergirl and J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) discover a pod that mysteriously crash landed in National City. Schechter teases that fans will find out what’s in the pod “very soon.” She says, “You will find out who it is in the pod, but it will take a little longer to unravel what that person’s motivations, backstory and relationship to Kara will be.” She continues saying, “As Kara figures it out, the audience will be figure it out.”

An important question on fans minds is how much will they see of the feisty Cat Grant. Since moving to The CW, production on Supergirl has moved to Vancouver, something that puts a wrench in how much Flockhart will appear moving forward. Schechter says, “She’s still going to be on the show. I think that you’ll see less of her, but I also think it’s quite natural because Kara has a different job.” She continues saying, “Being Cat’s assistant, she sees Cat all the time. Now I think she’s moving on and exploring other work opportunities at Cat Co., we’ll probably see less of it and also I think Cat has been inspired by what she witnessed in season one and it changes her. She’ll still be quite the sharp tongue, badass.”

One of the most talked about moments from season one of Supergirl involved The Flash/Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) making an appearance in National City. Schechter speaks to the monumental meet up saying, “It’s part of the way we like to reward our fans of all of our shows. We did it with Arrow and The Flash. The Flash started on Arrow and then with Legends of Tomorrow, it’s kind of part of the fun of having a universe is that they get to visit each other.”

One of the reasons the crossover happened so early on in Supergirl’s run has to do with Benoist and Gustin’s natural chemistry. Schechter says, “You know, Grant is phenomenal and Grant and Melissa have just such great chemistry. They’re friends from Glee and so it just seemed like it would be a lot of fun.”

Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist and Brandon Routh. Photo Credit: CBS/The CW
Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist and Brandon Routh. Photo Credit: CBS/The CW

Another refreshing change for this particular crossover is it remained very light-hearted, something fans enjoyed. Schechter speaks to the light-hearted nature of the episode saying, “Part of what we want to give people is that sort of, not to say angst free or drama free, these shows should represent and help us to kind of process that the world is, but at the same time to offer something lighter and more hopeful and positive.” She quickly adds, “Grant and Melissa both have that shiny-ness. So try to harness it together, it was too fun to resist.”

On the subject of crossovers, Schechter and the entire production team behind Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow have a lot on their hands. The four shows will take part in an epic 4 night crossover event, coinciding with Arrow’s 100th episode. Schechter discusses the crossover event saying, “It’s major. We are planning it in a way so it really will be an incredible week for fans. It’s a logistical nightmare as you can imagine, but much easier now that Supergirl is up in Vancouver. It’s a lot of fun.”

Schechter is a big fan of bringing characters from various TV shows together. She teases, “Superman is in the first two episodes and to see how everyone in National City responds to him. It just gives you a flavor. Part of the fun of the crossover is seeing people in each other’s worlds and how people react to them.” She continues saying, “We love all these characters so to give them a chance to play together is like too fun. It’s too fun when you’re a kid and you have toys. It’s like the G.I Joe’s would play with the Barbie’s and whatever. It’s like a real life version of that.”

Supergirl season two premieres Monday October 10th at 8/7c on The CW.

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