ABC's upcoming series Kevin (Probably) Saves the World tells a familiar story of a mystical being coming down to help a regular Joe make the world a better place. It's a concept that's been seen on TV before plenty of times, on shows like Quantum Leap, Angel From Hell and more.
It's also a concept that dances closely to a despised television trope, that of the "Magical Negro." Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals) plays Yvette, a self-proclaimed "warrior of God" who helps Kevin (Jason Ritter) make himself and the world around him better. But co-creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are quick to point out that Yvette doesn't fall into the "Magical Negro" trope of existing just to help a white dude out.
"I've heard of that trope," Fazekas said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. "And I think part of that trope — and you can correct me if I'm wrong — is that the character exists only to service the white character. I feel like we have built a character who has wants, has needs, has her own storyline."
Rogers points out that Yvette may not be as mystical as people think, and that she's more grounded in real life than a winged spirit from the heavens, which pushes her further from the trope because she's her own person.
"Coming in as a woman of color, as a person of color, we've had great conversations of how to fully make Yvette," Rogers said. "She has her own mission. ... She's not an angel. She's flawed, she's not angelic. She doesn't necessarily behave like an angel. She doesn't use language that's necessarily angelic. She has a real purpose, and her purpose is bigger than just helping Kevin do what he needs to do. She's bucked the universe, and she's sacrificed greatly to come, because she has a great love for humanity."
"When we say she's a warrior for God, we mean that," Butters said. "The fact is she is her own hero of this story, too, because she's coming down with her own purpose. And as the show expands over multiple episodes, one of the things she realizes is that as much as she's there to help Kevin, Kevin ends up helping her. And they end up creating this really interesting partnership."
Trope averted? We'll have to wait and see when the show debuts.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World premieres Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 10/9c on ABC.