What does a Muslim superhero, bisexual captain and an undocumented immigrant have in common? They’re all characters housed on CW! With shows that utilize people from all backgrounds, the CW offers one of the broadest ranges of characters on any network. Recently, I was given the opportunity to watch the series premiere of CW’s newest show All American early. What I found was a continuation of this commitment, through characters such as Tiana Cooper. You can read a review of the episode here.
This also led me to look back at some of the other ways CW has made it shows with a consideration for diversity.
One of those shows is Black Lightning. Actor Cress Williams, who stars as the superhero himself, touched on the importance of cast selection during the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association press tour.
“Now we have so many things to choose from, so I hope that keeps growing, not only for African-Americans but for every ethnicity, gender, religion,” Williams said. “I think it’s important. Ideally I want everyone to be able to look and go, ‘That’s me.’ I want to find them socially represented, they grow up and look to the screens and say, ‘I see me.’”
Black Lightning’s success comes from having minorities both in front of and behind the camera. Series creator Salim Akil said that the show has a “predominately African American writing staff.” According to Akil, there are many people who work on the show who can relate to the situations it presents (minus the superpowers) or know someone who has.
In addition, Mediaversity gave the show an A- rating, praising character Anissa Pierce as the first black lesbian superhero whose “significance can’t be overstated.”
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has also taken advantage of the high volume of characters on the show to give voice to a range of heroes. Last year, Tala Ashe became one of the first onscreen Muslim superheroes as Zari Tomaz, a hacktivist from the future. Another strong female role is character Sara Lance played by Caity Lotz. As a captain, she demonstrates the power of a strong female leader. But Lance is also bisexual and Lotz appreciates the ability to play such a role.
“If you think about, specifically, bisexual representation on television, and how much it’s lacking,” Lotz said about her character in an interview with comicbook. “And to see a female bisexual character as the lead, the captain of this ship, is I think a really really nice step in progress for representation.”
Executive producer Greg Berlanti has worked on many CW shows including The Flash, Arrow, and Riverdale. As someone who is openly gay, Berlanti has been a driving force for the LGBTQ community on television.
Besides producers, the CW also proudly casts LGBTQ actors. Actors such as John Barrowman (Malcom Merlyn in Arrow), Caitlin Stacey (Kenna in Reign), (Sean Maher (Shrapnel in Arrow), Andy Mientus (The Pied Piper in The Flash), and Russel Tory (The Ray in Supergirl), to name a few.
The CW also isn’t afraid to take a stand on political issues. Jane the Virgin, for example, commented on the need for immigration reform in this infamous scene using both the episode’s plot and an onscreen title. The strong Latina cast was the perfect medium to highlight such an important issue.
Twitter also saw an onslaught of support:
Along with All American, CW’s Charmed will be premiering this fall. Many fans wonder how the reboot will differ from the old one. One way it is sure to stand out is with its diverse cast and with the plot’s LGBTQ twist. You can read a review of the first episode here.
What’s your favorite way the CW incorporates diverse characters in its shows?