While the original Tom Swift books were all about a young genius inventor, the new TV version of the character is quite different from the man featured in those publications.
All of the books, some written nearly a century ago, feature Swift saving the day using some new gadget he’d invented, and while that concept remains the same in the new series, Swift is now a wealthy gay black man who dresses in designer clothes.
The role originated on the series Nancy Drew a few years ago, but now its leading man, played by Tian Richards, is taking center stage as the main character.
Richards says that, “We got like a prequel, like an appetizer of Tom on [Nancy Drew], but now you get a full course. We not snacks, [we’re] meals.”
As the focus of this series, Richards says, “I definitely feel a lot more grown. I came in with a bit of imposter syndrome, and I’ve been definitely finding myself in this space.”
He credits the creators and cast with ‘huddling’ around him and allowing him to find his voice as an artist.
As for bringing the character into the modern world, Executive Producer Melinda Hsu Taylor explains, “We definitely wanted to make a show that was way more inclusive than the original IP. The books from back in the day are from a different era. They don’t hold up, really. However, what we loved about the core concept of optimism and friendship and kind of relentless positivity, that we brought into the show. And then we populated with a black, gay billionaire and all his found family and friends.”
She adds, “We really wanted to make it a show where, no matter what kind of intersectional identity you have, you have somebody to relate to, somebody to cheer for, somebody to hope for and, and feel like, ‘That’s me. I’m the one who has friends, and I can change the world. It doesn’t matter where I came from, what I look like, you know, who I love or how I feel on the inside. I’m being celebrated for who I already am.’”
Fellow EP Cameron Johnson, says that this team is making history with the series, pointing out that, “as far as I know, [there has] never been a network TV show where the titular character is a black gay man.”
Noga Landua, who also serves as an EP on Tom Swift, says, that, “regardless of what your politics are, regardless of, of who you are and where you think the country is going, I think the fact that we’re seeing people be able to live more and more authentically, and yet the, the struggle is not over, and the fight is not over, I couldn’t think of a better time to have a show like this come out. And honestly, it would’ve been great if a show like this came out 50 years ago. But now is our opportunity.”
‘Tom Swift’ airs Mondays at 9 e/p on The CW.