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'Naomi' not only introduces a new superhero, but also plans to normalize things not often seen on TV
Naomi's creators on making a series that will show what they want to see in diverse storytelling.
There's a lot of superhero TV series to choose from out there, so it's vital to stand out among the pack when launching into the fray. As such, The CW's Naomi –– based on the comic book of the same name from writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker with art by Jamal Campbell –– revolves around the unique origin story of Naomi (Kaci Walfall), a teen, Black, bisexual superhero.
Framed first as a coming-of-age series, executive producer Ana DuVernay told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter virtual press tour on Thursday that the whole show is an example of normalizing the types of stories they want to see in the world. "There are muscular things [addressed in the series] but we're playing it normal," DuVerney explains. "We show a different hero, a black girl, and we're making it normal and that's radical/revolutionary."
The series is set in the Pacific Northwest and follows Naomi, a popular high school student and Superman blogger as she discovers that her well-adjusted life as the adopted daughter of loving parents, Greg (Barry Watson) and Jennifer (Mouzam Makkar), might be obscuring a much more complicated past than she ever could have imagined.
While her origin will be revealed in a slow drip, Naomi's active social life and comfort with her own alternate sexuality will be extremely noticeable right from the pilot. In the show, it quickly becomes apparent that Naomi has three love interests that she will explore as the season unfolds. And to be authentic with their normalized storytelling, showrunner/executive producer Jill Blankenship said they looked to this generation to influence the tone and approach to telling Naomi's story.
"Kids' these days attitude toward sexuality and their aversion to labels is so inspiring and rooted in reality," Blankenship explained. "We wanted to bring that to the show and have it running through the series."
That also extends to Naomi's parents, who are a mixed race couple who don't even flinch when hearing about Naomi's female and male crushes. Makkar said they are parents who have raised Naomi with the knowledge that people are people and love is love: "There is love and trust that Naomi can be herself in front of us. And that appears throughout show but it is also life." To which Watson added, "Greg and Jen want Naomi happy however that comes."
DuVernay emphasized that Greg and Jennifer are not everyday parents, which is a unique thing to show on TV too. "And yet they have an edge and a mystery to them, with more to unfold."
The show expands into all of these unexpected topics much deeper than the comic narrative did, which Blankenship said was a perk of getting to adapt the story into a scripted television series. "I'm huge fan of the comic and read the whole first [issue] in one sitting," the showrunner enthused. "It's an incredible foundation but that also gave us the freedom to make it our own and run with it. So we have that foundation but the ability to explore outside of the source material."
Naomi premieres Jan. 11 on The CW.