The CW is continuing to kick-ass with renewals.
The youth-skewing broadcaster has picked up freshman series Kung Fu for a second season and handed a third season of DC’s Stargirl ahead of its sophomore debut.
This comes as the network continues to look for stability in its scripted lineup – bringing the number of renewals for the 2021-22 season to 15 with only The Republic of Sarah, which launches in June, still pending.
The renewal of Kung Fu is not a surprise. The drama kicked off strong with more than 3.5M viewers watching the premiere episode and it had the highest total viewership number for a Wednesday debut in 7 years since The 100 debuted in 2014.
Kung Fu follows a young Chinese American woman, Nicky Shen, played by Olivia Liang, whose quarter-life crisis causes her to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to San Francisco, she finds her hometown is overrun with crime and corruption and her own parents Jin (Tzi Ma) and Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) are at the mercy of a powerful Triad. Nicky will rely on her tech-savvy sister Althea (Shannon Dang) and Althea’s fiancé Dennis (Tony Chung), pre-med brother Ryan (Jon Prasida), Assistant District Attorney and ex-boyfriend Evan (Gavin Stenhouse), and new love interest Henry (Eddie Liu) as well as her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice…all while searching for the ruthless assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) and is now targeting her.
Christina M. Kim wrote the pilot episode and serves as executive producer/co-showrunner with Robert Berens. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Martin Gero and David Madden also serve as executive producers. Hanelle Culpepper directed and co-executive produced the pilot episode. Kung Fu is produced by Berlanti Productions and Quinn’s House in association with Warner Bros. Television and is inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman.
Similarly, last year’s premiere of Stargirl was The CW’s most-watched summer debut in six years. The show’s second season premieres on August 10.
Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger) and her stepfather Pat Dugan (Luke Wilson) as she leads an unlikely group of young heroes to take on the legacy of DC’s very first superhero team, the Justice Society of America. In the thrilling second season, Courtney and her friends take on one of the most frightening adversaries in DC’s mythology – the dark entity of corruption known as Eclipso.
Geoff Johns is showrunner and executive produces with Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Based on the characters from DC, it is produced by Berlanti Productions and Mad Ghost Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
The renewal of both shows has been made slightly easier due to corporate synergies. Kung Fu’s premiere episode also aired on TNT, the basic cable network owned by The CW co-owner WarnerMedia.
The pick-up of Stargirl, meanwhile, is part of a deal between The CW and HBO Max to co-finance the show. The show originally aired as part of DC Universe, but was renewed for a second season by The CW in summer 2020 and a deal was worked out between the broadcast network and the streamer where The CW gets first run followed by its launch on HBO Max.
These are the latest examples of the two companies working together – they recently picked up Wellington Paranormal, a New Zealand horror mockumentary based on Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows film, together.
“We are beyond proud to continue to share the stories of Nicky Shen and Courtney Whitmore, two strong, powerful young women at the center of this new generation of hit shows for The CW in Kung Fu and DC’s Stargirl,” said Mark Pedowitz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The CW Network. “While each boasts remarkable talent on both sides of the camera, Kung Fu and DC’s Stargirl have not only treated fans to some visually stunning action and high-flying heroics, but they also both strike very powerful emotional chords as they delve into the family dynamics and personal relationships at their core, and we are so excited to see what happens next.”
They join recently renewed series including Superman & Lois, Walker, All American, Batwoman, Charmed, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Dynasty, The Flash, In the Dark, Legacies, Nancy Drew, Riverdale and Roswell, New Mexico.