June 15, 2017


Future LGBTQ History Month: Greg Berlanti, Superhero Showrunner Supreme

Amanda Edwards/WireImage
Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Fuse is celebrating Pride Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future LGBTQ History before our eyes. Today it's Greg Berlanti, the 45-year-old new father who just broke an all-time record with 10 scripted TV series either returning to the air this fall or in the works for a big 2017-'18 debut.

A Northwestern University graduate and Rye, New York native, Berlanti's first job was being a writer and co-executive producer on Dawson's Creek; not too shabby. Fast-forward to 2017, just for a sec, and he's got NBC's Blindspot, The CW's buzzy Archie rework Riverdale, and the same network's four beloved, Berlanti-created DC superhero shows, a few of them running for four, five years.

In between, Berlanti wrote and produced prolifically with shows like Brothers & Sisters, The Mysteries of Laura and Dirty Sexy Money. Everwood and Jack and Bobby have been called "two of the least flashy but highest-quality WB shows ever." And Greg's mainlining into the lives of modern binge-watchers, too, with much of his work—including Dawson's and the Arrowverse quartet of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow—being popular streaming options.

In a New York magazine feature last year, Berlanti talked about the hold superheroes had on him during his youth:

"They were people who were hiding in plain sight. I was so closed off to that part of myself then. I didn’t happen to be one of those gay kids who knew definitively by the time I was 13. I was having a weird amalgamation of emotions, and I identified with a lot of outsider characters. In retrospect, it’s very easy for me to look at it now and go, Oh, it’s because they had this burden of feeling alone. I don’t think people realize the extent to which there was no gay representation then. If you were a kid, there was nothing. People don’t understand, culturally, how it felt. And so here you had these characters who are told they’re special because they’re different, and it’s empowering."

Supergirl and The Flash, which just wrapped their second and third seasons respectively, have been particularly praised for their representation, with Supergirl recently being bathing in a flood of commentary calling it things like "one of the most LGBTQ-friendly shows on TV" and "the most politically progressive show on TV right now."

Racial and gender diversity are also carefully considered, including behind the camera—Berlanti has noted in the past how a season of Arrow had 50 percent non–white male directors, and how more than half the writing staff on Arrow and The Flash at the time of one interview were women. Berlanti has great admiration for follow über-showrunner/writer/producer Shonda Rhimes and thinks having shows "look and feel like America looks" just makes for the best-told stories. "It’s a conscious choice and so rewarding to do what we do," he told The Advocate, going on:

“It’s very easy in this business to do things the way you used to do them because it feels safe, but ultimately that doesn’t make things better. To make things better you have to commit to really making a change, and entertainment is better when there are different voices involved—it just is. So it’s nice to see the growth that’s happened over the past 15 years, but there’s opportunity for more.”

Berlanti and his fiancé, two-time MLS Cup–winning soccer player Robbie Rogers, welcomed a son, Caleb, with a surrogate mother last year. "There is nothing I've wanted more, or waited for longer, than to be a father," he wrote.

He's since talked about how his son "tends to want to eat the books" they read together, and shared this darling anecdote about the baby unexpectedly "screaming with glee" over a Supergirl clip where the heroine joins with her cousin, Superman. "I thought, 'I hope I have a future nerd in the house!' ... I don’t know if it was the colors or what, but it was very rewarding."

Berlanti also worked in film, starting as a writer/producer on Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern flop and directing Life as We Know It and The Broken Hearts Club. His next film is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, based on Becky Albertalli's novel about a closeted gay teenager. Simultaneously, his new '17-'18-season shows are ABC's Deception, about a disgraced magician lending his talents to the FBI, DC and The CW's Black Lightning and the same network's Searchers, a adventure-drama about siblings "discovering the great legends, myths, and unexplainable mysteries of the world." Raised by Wolves, a Diablo Cody collaboration and Berlanti's comedy debut, got ditched by ABC but might land elsewhere.

So yeah, get ready to hear that "Move your head, Greg!" line in the end credits of a lot more TV shows any day now.

Tune in to Fuse and come back to Fuse.tv every day for profiles, videos, galleries and more on the individuals around the world who are creating Future LGBTQ History. Join the conversation with #FutureHistory and find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.

Next, watch The Flash Star Keiynan Lonsdale talk about what's next for Wally West/Kid Flash: