The Couple Who Inspired Season Three of Superman & Lois
HH&S teamed up with CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control to help shape an accurate portrayal of Lois Lane’s breast cancer journey in season 3 of Superman & Lois.
The CW’s Superman & Lois team turned to CDC for strategic guidance for their writers, tapping them for insights on early onset breast cancer, holding briefings led by public health and medical experts (including Dr. Lisa Richardson, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control), and reviewing nearly every script in the season. CDC ultimately crafted the public health messaging and promotion that drives the breast cancer storyline. From major story arc points to the episodic level, CDC helped the writers’ room ensure that Lois Lane’s cancer journey was authentically represented and could help other young breast cancer survivors see a bit of themselves in her story and help young women learn about breast cancer risk.
"It's the story that drives the whole season," says Superman & Lois showrunner Brent Fletcher in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Getting this story right was extremely important to the Superman & Lois team. That’s why CDC brought in two-time breast cancer survivor Jennifer Feldman and her husband, Jay Feldman, whose real lived experiences inspired Lois and Clark’s journey.
Bitsie Tulloch, Superman & Lois showrunners Brent Fletcher and Todd Helbing, and S&L writers modeled many aspects of Lois and Clark’s character journeys after the Feldmans. “She is our real-life Lois Lane," the S&L team describes Jennifer. Just 27 years old when she was first diagnosed, and while pursuing her law career when she was diagnosed for the second time Jennifer studied for and passed the bar exam throughout her chemotherapy treatment. Breast cancer survivors have different journeys with no "right" way to handle and cope with the disease. Still, Lois’ unwavering commitment and passion for her work despite her sickness mirrors Jennifer’s. Jennifer’s lived experiences greatly influenced the writers, and her supportive and loving husband Jay inspired the writers to portray Clark Kent as a rock for Lois. They used Jay as a model for what a supportive partner or caretaker could look like through the difficult journey of a cancer diagnosis.
“It was important to us to take the time to make Lois’ journey feel as true to real life as we possibly could on TV, and we did our best over thirteen episodes,” shares Superman & Lois Writer and Producer Kristi Korzec. "We showed lots of specific details about cancer treatment, so, of course, access to medical experts was extremely important, but the information provided by cancer survivors and their loved ones was truly invaluable in helping us craft stories that were heartfelt, relatable, and respectful to the people and families dealing with cancer in the real world. When writing a superhero show, a lot is heightened, but we wanted Lois’ cancer journey to feel honest and grounded in reality. One of the main reasons we could do that is because of the personal and intimate details that were so generously shared with us,” explains Kristi Korzec.
"It's such a family crisis when something like that happens, and you have to rally, and we wanted to show that for the kids,” shares S&L showrunner Brent Fletcher. “We thought long and hard about it and arced out our season around that journey.”
Since the airing of season 3 in March of 2023, Google searches for "breast cancer in young women" more than doubled. Entertainment Weekly says, "Lois' important medical journey drives the whole season," and the storyline has garnered media attention from notable outlets, including Yahoo! Entertainment, TV Insider, and Screen Rant. You can watch the rest of Lois' breast cancer journey unfold by tuning in to new episodes every Tuesday at 8 pm EST on The CW or by streaming the next day on CWTV.com.