Freeform brought their newest fantasy show about mermaids, entitled Siren, to New York Comic Con on Saturday with the debut of their pilot episode, which it was announced will premiere on March 29. These aren’t Disney’s mermaids, either; they have teeth and they are not happy with humans.
According to series creator Eric Wald, these mermaids are responding to the very real threats humans pose to marine life. They’re being pushed to the surface, bringing them into contact with fishermen and others who would cause them harm. Real-world issues are at the heart of the show, says Wald.
Series stars Eline Powell, Alex Roe, Fola Evans-Akingbola, and Ian Verdun were also in attendance at the panel to discuss their experience working on the series, which featured some unique challenges. Powell, who plays mermaid Ryn, had to play out an extended underwater fight sequence with Alex Roe, a feat that required extensive breath training. According to Powell, Roe was a natural, able to hold his breath for a full four minutes almost immediately, while it took her a while to get up to her record of 3:10.
And Ryn is a very physical character, it seems. Roe was quick to point out that Powell is trained in ballet, which allows her to affect a very specific kind of movement for the mermaid, both in the water and on land. Another physical moment? During the pilot, Ryn, new to the world of humans, encounters every woman’s fear: a lecherous man with no inhibitions and a car. He corners her and literally jumps on top of her, an act she responds to by ripping the man to pieces.
It’s a moment in the pilot that generated huge cheers from the audience, but when the moderator asked about the “obvious feminist themes” in the show, it was cast member Ian Verdun who had the best answer. He said that scene, to him, was not the most feminist part, saying, “you don’t have to put a woman in danger to show her power and to show that she is equal.” Instead, he said he believes Ryn shows her strength most by leaving the ocean in the first place and venturing into a strange new world.
Verdun also spoke about his own experiences with fandom and the importance of casting people of color, saying, “you don’t really see yourself and you don’t realize how much of an effect it has on you until you do.” He thanked the show runners for allowing them into this fantasy space where they hadn’t been before. Wald, for his part, gave the credit for the show’s diverse cast of characters to the network, saying that Freeform actually pushed them to cast more people of color.
But what about the rest of the season? According to Wald, Ryn won’t be the only mermaid we encounter this season. We’ll actually be getting a look at the entire mermaid society, meeting another mermaid who is more of a matriarchal character, and, of course, a merman.
Following the panel, Freeform released a sneak peek of the series. Check it out!