ABC is making its mark as the premiere network for new, inventive, and inclusive family comedies. We’ve had The Real O’Neals, Fresh Off the Boat, black-ish, and now we’re getting a family comedy about Middle Eastern superheroes!
The untitled project, currently going by the name Super Challenged Heroes or SCH for short, has a lot of creative power behind it. Thanks to Deadline, here are three big facts you need to know about this history-making show.
1. The show is created by Larry Wilmore and Bassem Youssef: These two guys have some serious credentials with family fun, comedy, and biting commentary. Wilmore is behind The Bernie Mac Show and wrote for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and black-ish. He also hosted his own late-night politically-charged show, The Larry Wilmore Show from 2015-2016. Wilmore is also the author of I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts.
Youssef is known as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, hosting satirical news show Al-Bernameg from 2011 to 2014. He’s also the author of Revolution for Dummies and Laughing Through the Arab Spring. He was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world” in 2013 and he’s also a physician, specializing in cardiothoracic surgery and lung transplantation. He used that medical knowledge to take care of those wounded in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution.
2. The show challenges our stereotype of the archetypal American hero: According to Deadline, the project “is an action-adventure fantasy show that asks the question: what is it like to be a hero in a world that treats you like a villain?”. The show follows the Sharif family, which is led by two superhero parents “at a time when it’s illegal to be a superhero, so they are forced to save the world in secret.” The show will act as an allegory for the issues immigrant families face “when it comes to fitting into a society that many times treats you like the enemy.”
“At its heart, it is a family show about assimilation and the difficulties and the problems and conflicts with assimilation,” said Wilmore. “There are so many issues immigrant families face becoming Americans.” Wilmore said that combining the real-life issues facing immigrant families with fantasy-adventure provides an “interesting” way to approach a family show.
3. The show is loosely inspired by Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles: Wilmore said he had an idea of doing a superhero show for a while, and got a boost of energy from signing his overall deal with ABC Studios. The studio has encouraged its writer-producers to use existing Disney properties, so Wilmore felt there was something he could explore with the world of The Incredibles. In the end, he wasn’t able to use The Incredibles property, but he still kept the germ of the idea of a world with outlawed superheroes which later evolved into this current project. After watching Tickling Giants, a documentary about Youssef by Sara Taksler (who just so happens to be friends with Wilmore), Wilmore decided partnering with Youssef would be a great idea.
“To have ABC challenge the narrative and stereotypes that have long stuck to people in my region is something spectacular to say the least,” said Youssef, calling the show “unprecedented.”
“To have only terrorist roles available for us one day, then get to play superheroes the next, is groundbreaking. I am grateful to work with Larry Wilmore, one of the most talented writers and producers in the market.”