An Indian-American superhero is possibly coming to our TV screens. Well, about damn time. ABC has given a pilot order to the reboot of the 1981 comedy “The Greatest American Hero,” but with one big twist. While the original was a drama that starred William Katt as the unlikely superhero Ralph Hanley, the revival will be led by “New Girl” breakout star Hannah Simone.
The single-camera, half-hour comedy focuses on 30-year-old Meera (Simone) from Cleveland, Ohio. Her talents include karaoke and chugging on tequila, which obviously doesn’t sit well traditional family. All that changes when she has to suit up when aliens entrust her to protect the planet. She finally finds her life’s purpose but is she worthy enough to pull it off? To us, this sounds exactly like the light-hearted, empowering dramedy we need right now. Reboots and superheroes are all the rage right now, anyway, we might as well take the opportunity to diversify our screens. Simone will be the first woman of color to lead a live action superhero TV show.
Zenobia Shroff joins the cast as Meera’s mother Leena, a sophisticated, inscrutable woman. Shroff was most recently seen as Kumail’s mother on “The Big Sick.” British-Canadian actress Gia Sandhu will play Mona, Meera’s brilliant sister with a type A personality. Sandhu will also star alongside Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick on the big screen in their upcoming movie “A Simple Favor.” Finally, the reboot has cast “Cheers” actor George Wendt as Meera’s boss.
The pilot is written by “Fresh off the Boat” writer Rachna Fruchbom, who will produce it alongside “FOTB” showrunner Nahnatchka Khan. It hails from 20th Century Fox, where Khan’s banner Fierce Baby is also based. Other executive producers include Khan’s producing partner Mandy Summers, TV director Tawnia McKiernan, who happens to be the original show creator’s daughter. As for Simone, there was really no better choice than her. She has proven her might with “New Girl,” in which she plays Cecelia Parikh. With the comedy’s final season set to air in April 2018, Simone won’t be away from our screens for long.
“The Greatest American Hero” ran for three seasons on ABC. In it, Ralph Henley was given a red and black suit by aliens and it gave him superhuman abilities. He has difficulty learning how to operate it while also saving the world, often resulting in comical situations. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how they navigate this plotline in today’s television landscape. There are plenty of superhero-shows on TV, ranging from melodramatic’s like “Supergirl” and “Arrow” to gritty like “Marvel’s Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.”
However, it’s no surprise that the twist in this reboot includes an Indian-American lead. South Asians are really carving their niche in pop culture right now, with several talents who are either already part of successful projects or are creating more shows that represent us accurately. Let’s hope “The Greatest American Hero” does just that.