NBC: Powerless takes place in the DC Universe

‘Powerless’ Premiere Is First Sitcom In DC Universe After ‘Gotham’ Winter Finale

Just as Batman, Joker, and the Riddler began major transitions in the Gotham winter finale before the show started a three-month hiatus, Bruce Wayne’s cousin, Vance, from Charm City made his first transition from the pages of DC Comics to television in the new sitcom Powerless. Gotham and Netflix shows, like Marvel’s Daredevil, offer dark, gritty superhero options, while The CW’s line-up of DC Comics-inspired programming (including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow) corner the market on superheroes dealing with relationship drama and self-discovery. Powerless is the first true sitcom based in the DC Universe, and it will try to capitalize on Gotham‘s 12-week absence from Fox.

DC Universe: Vanessa Hudgens on Powerless
Vanessa Hudgens plays Emily Locke, Director of R&D for Wayne Security on Powerless [Image by NBC]

Gotham Winter Finale

Fans of Gotham have been waiting for the return of Jerome/Joker, and his rise to prominence in Gotham City — as well as his feud with Bruce Wayne — was just beginning as the show’s winter finale concluded. At the same time, Edward Nigma/Riddler had gained a psychological advantage over Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin as the crime bosses all looked to establish dominance. Bruce, under the guidance of Alfred, had finally decided that he would have to train for a life of fighting evil, without become a killer himself.

But even with mainstream characters like Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman making regular appearances, Gotham has been unable to duplicate the kind of ratings they delivered in Season 1. Their ratings low in the first year was 7.13 million viewers. Since the Season 3 premiere, no episode of Gotham has reached the 6 million mark. Going head-to-head against The CW’s Supergirl, Fox’s Gotham wins the ratings battle week-in and week-out. But the show’s funny new cousin, Powerless, isn’t looking very strong for NBC.

Powerless Series Premiere

Sandwiched between Superstore and Chicago Med on NBC’s once-coveted Thursday night rotation, the first real attempt at a mainstream superhero sitcom came and went without much fanfare. With 3.08 million viewers, Powerless was outshined by Superior Donuts on CBS, which drew more than 10 million viewers. While the employees of Wayne Security openly talk about superheroes like Batman and Superman, it seems unlikely that Powerless will be able to use cameos from any such star to help with the ratings.

NBC's Powerless: Ron Funches, Danny Pudi
Danny Pudi and Ron Funches add to the comedic cast of Powerless [Image by NBC]

Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical) stars as Emily Locke, the new director of research and development. As of the first episode, her team primarily consisted of first-name-only characters played by Danny Pudi (Community), Ron Funches (Undateable), and Christina Kirk. Their boss, Van Wayne, hates living in Charm City and is jealous of Bruce’s life in Gotham City. The first episode made use of minor DC Comics characters Crimson Fox (who will have a recurring role on Powerless, played by Atlin Mitchell) and Jack O’Lantern. The developments at Wayne Security during the pilot impressed Bruce Wayne enough for them all to keep their jobs, as Batman successfully used a very similar tool in his pursuit of Joker — which viewers saw on a news report as the Powerless series premiere ended.


While Powerless wouldn’t suffice as a replacement for Gotham during its winter break (and was never really meant to be), it certainly provides plenty of references that only true DC Comics fans would pick up on. Additionally, for big-time DCTV fans who can’t get their friends or loved ones to sit through another superhero show, Powerless provides the kind of comedy accessible to anyone who likes workplace comedies such as The Office or Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Where to Watch Powerless and Gotham

New episodes of Powerless air Thursday nights on NBC at 8:30/7:30c. Replays of Powerless will be available to stream online through Hulu or NBC’s website.

Gotham will return to Monday nights on Fox beginning April 24. The five most recent episodes of Gotham can be streamed online via Hulu or Fox’s website. The first two seasons of Gotham are available to stream on-demand via Netflix.

[Featured Image via NBC/Powerless]