(CBS NEWS) – They don’t call her “Supergirl” for nothing. And yes — the word “girl” is intentional.
In the pilot episode of the upcoming CBS show, when the show’s protagonist, Kara Danvers, saves her sister’s plane from crashing, Kara’s boss dubs the young mystery woman who came to the rescue “Supergirl.”
“Shouldn’t she be called Super … Woman?” asks Kara.
“What do you think is so bad about ‘girl?'” asks her media mogul boss, Cat Grant, played by Calista Flockhart. “I’m a girl and your boss and powerful and rich and hot and smart, so if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”
In a conference call with executive producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Ali Adler and star Melissa Benoist, Berlanti said of the moment, “That speech was in the original pitch for the show. One thing I found in doing this is sometimes the temptation is there to alter things … We really want to be protective of the show and have a conversation.”
The producers and Benoist promised that the show will have plenty of girl power; Benoist said young girls will be able to find a role model in Kara.
“I always keep in mind her bravery, hope and positivity and strength and I think it will be hard for girls to not look up to that,” said Benoist.
Adler added that Kara won’t just be a role model for young girls, but for everyone.
“All the attributes Melissa [Benoist] brings [to the character] — courage, hope and strength — are genderless,” she said.
And Kara isn’t the only “Supergirl” on the show.
“We see [Kara’s] relationship with Cat Grant as a very important woman in her life,” said Adler. “She’s a superhero, too, as is her sister. But Cat is a voice of wisdom, whether she says it in a kind way or not, and that’s an amazing female relationship.”
The producers promised that the show will definitely pass the Bechdel test — a test that examines whether or not two female characters in a piece of fiction talk to each other about something other than a man. Aside from looking up to her mentor, the hard-edged, but impressive Cat Grant, Kara will find a friend in Lucy Lane, played by Jenna Dewan Tatum, and the two will embark on adventures together.
Still, Benoist said that even though she’s thrilled to see powerful female characters on TV, she doesn’t want viewers to get distracted from the storyline.
“I don’t tend to focus on it too much because I want people to have fun watching the show and enjoy watching Kara’s journey as much as I enjoy playing it,” she said. “It truly to me doesn’t matter that she’s a girl because she kicks some serious a**.”
Where does Benoist draw her inspiration for her plane-lifting character from Krypton?
“I come from a family where the women are really the majority,” she explained. “We outnumber the men in my family by far and all the women in my family are superheroes of mine.”
“Supergirl” premieres at 8:30 pm Monday on KPIX 5 / CBS.