'SheZow' creator talks 'transsexual' criticism, a 'coming out' episode and more
Creator Obie Scott Wade tells Zap2it that the inspiration for this new superhero goes back to his Saturday morning cartoon routine as a kid.
"I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and loving superheroes in general," says Wade. "I just thought it would be a funny twist on a classic mythology ... When I was a kid I watched a show on Saturday mornings called 'Shazam!' ... it was Shazam and Isis and I just thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if he accidentally said 'SHE-zam,' would he get a different costume or become a different hero?"
"It's just taking something classic and turning it a couple notches to the right."
But it's still a show about a superhero, complete with a member of the local police, who also happens to be Guy's father Boxter, who is none too happy with SheZow fighting the city's criminals.
"That's based on that traditional superhero trope where, like, J.J. Jameson doesn't like Spiderman, where the superhero is more of a vigilante than a benefit to society and gets in the way of the police and steals all of the glory," says Wade. "That's why Boxster Hamdon doesn't like SheZow."
Part of being the flashy superhero stealing all the glory means that Guy has to learn how to navigate his world now with new tools -- a lipstick laser, a "beautility" belt, losing his powers when his hair goes frizzy -- which Wade tells us has been passed on to Guy from his Aunt Agnes.
"SheZow is a legend that's been passed down through the generations of Guy's family, so when his aunt was SheZow, that's the SheZow she created. SheZow's throughout history have had different costumes and different hairstyles," says Wade. And a lot of the facets to SheZow's mythology came about from the female writers Wade has on his team.
"I asked the women on my team ... what would be a good weakness for a woman superhero and they all said, "Bad hair!'" laughs Wade. "A lot of the gadgets and jokes [for 'SheZow'] came from women."
While things like the "beautility" belt are a lot of fun to watch Guy figure out, the show has already been receiving some negative attention for its new twist on the superhero model, with a conservative website calling it a "transsexual superhero show" and writing that "nothing says 'child-appropriate material' quite like gender-bending underage superheroes."
To this, Wade says that "SheZow is not transgendered. He's a boy, his gender never changes, he's just trapped in a silly costume."
He also adds that he doesn't find it child-inappropriate at all, because the idea came to him as a kid.
"I was a child when I thought of [the 'SheZow' idea]," says Wade. "I came up with that as a kid, so no, I don't [think it's inappropriate]."
But the show may continue to receive a negative response from certain entities, particularly with an upcoming episode that explores Guy's "coming out" as SheZow to his parents.
"There is an episode where ... his mom discovers the She-lair accidentally and is like, 'Oh my goddess, I can't believe this! My son is SheZow!' She loves it," says Wade. "But then there's the challenge of coming out to dad as SheZow and what is dad gonna think, so there is an episode that touches on that."
While the episode isn't at all about sexuality or trying to make a commentary about being gay, there are perhaps parallels that can be drawn to "coming out" in that way, which Wade says could be a great thing.
"People have asked me lots of questions about SheZow and what they read into it and what they see in it. The only thing I can say is that if SheZow ends up appealing to a diverse audience, then I've done my job. I would be happy if people get something out of it personally like that," says Wade.
There is no official word yet for a second season -- the show's first season has already aired in Australia -- but Wade tells us that they've been floating some ideas, particularly in looking at how Guy personalizes his iteration of SheZow.
"I would like to time-shift a little in the show [in Season 2] and see what happens to SheZow down the road and how Guy kind of customizes the legend for himself," says Wade.
"SheZow" airs Saturdays at 12:30 ET/9:30 PT on the Hub.