Following its cancellation on CBS, Supergirl moved to The CW. But what should’ve been a nice fit has been turned into an unfortunate debacle. Here’s why.
Having only watched the premiere seasons of The CW’s other superhero shows, I don’t know if The CW has a superhero problem, or more simply, a female superhero problem. What I do know is that they’ve taken an icon like Supergirl and turned her into a caricature of who she used to be. More importantly, they’ve made the show incredibly difficult to watch.
Of course, the second season started much like the first. But there were early indications that we were headed for trouble. Since 2017 started, I’ve been watching Supergirl with a nagging feeling in my stomach that the show was going to depart from all the feminist ideals it beat the audience over the head with in season 1.
Unfortunately, I managed to come up with a few reasons as to how this happened. And how it happened so quickly. But keep in mind, I’m formulating opinions from the context of the show. There’s always a possibility that the Supergirl writers deserve more credit than we’re giving them and have a plan in mind … but if that’s the case, they should speak up sooner rather than later.
So here’s the breakdown:
Suffice it to say, shooting Supergirl in Vancouver instead of Los Angeles gave us all the impression that the show’s effects would be a little better. However, in addition to playing around with their sets, it seems like Supergirl‘s being cheap with power effects, too.
For example, the DEO relocated, Lena’s L-Corp office added a balcony one episode to the next (without balcony here and with one here), and Kara’s apartment layout changes back and forth every time we see it. (Put the TV in one spot and stick with it.)
Moreover, our two resident superheroes barely get to use their powers. Martian Manhunter doesn’t phase as much as he should, and Supergirl does little more than fly from location to location every episode. Admittedly, she uses her heat vision a lot. But her eyes can do a lot more than that. As it so happens, literally everything around Kara is now built out of lead so she really doesn’t need it anymore. (How convenient.)
Now, the question of whether she’s being sidelined too often brings us to our next point.
From the moment Supergirl announced that Superman would be added to the cast, it became abundantly clear that The CW thought they needed a dude to pull in their target demographic. That was our very first indication that The CW had very specific prerequisites for their superhero shows. Of course, we have to give credit where credit is due. Supergirl features an LGBT couple that makes sporadic appearances and often gets to have two minutes at the end of almost every episode. Plus, they have a few token POC characters. I mean, they have James and J’onn.
And since we’re on the subject of Martians, let’s move to Miss Martian.
Sharon Leal is an actress of Filipino and African American descent playing a character who post-Young Justice could’ve really been something. Instead, she barely received any airtime and the writers left most of her backstory unexplored. We watched a very abbreviated version of her story about rebelling against her own alien race and reconciling with J’onn. The most unfortunate part is that once J’onn forgave Miss Martian, Supergirl inexplicably wrote her off the show.
With her departure, we were short yet another female. After losing Cat Grant, the world of Supergirl feels completely imbalanced. It’s almost as if the fictional Cat Grant kept all the very real writers in place. Because let’s face it: Cat Grant would stand up for Supergirl.
When Kara Danvers told a man to be quiet or not have sex at work, Cat Grant would enforce this. When a confessed slave-owner blurts out that he preferred life when he could objectify women or makes it his mission to kill his obstacles and leave civilians behind against direct orders, Cat Grant would make it her personal mission to drag this offender day in and day out with headline after headline reading, “Why National City Doesn’t Need Mon-El” and the like.
See, because Kara began this season telling James — who she spent the entire first season pining for — that she needed to focus on herself. But now that Mon-El has obsessively and relentlessly chased after her (with the added benefit of guilt-tripping her into liking him back in “We Can Be Heroes”), Kara is simply Kara and not the Supergirl we know her to be. To be fair, she yells back at him a lot.
But is yelling back the same as standing up for yourself? Or should Supergirl get out of the relationship and stand independently? I feel like it’s the latter.
Finally, that brings us to the last and most important point.
The New Message
Kara / Supergirl finds herself in a relationship with someone who she argues with a lot, someone who uses “I’m still learning Earth customs” as an excuse to be rude, arrogant and ignore every request his now girlfriend has ever given him … what are we telling young girls?
Why is Supergirl making this toxic relationship okay?
And for every 18-49 adult with a big enough brain to question how Jeremiah’s bionic arm got past Alex’s physical and Supergirl’s built-in x-ray vision, Supergirl is basically telling them that there’s such thing as enough feminism. In this Trumpian era, Supergirl has stripped itself of everything it once stood for and made inequality okay again in favor of falling in line with The CW’s mandate.
Which is weird, because Jane the Virgin airs right after Supergirl and doesn’t have problems like these. So who do we blame? Supergirl‘s writers or The CW? Who do we hold accountable?
I watch Supergirl because she gave me someone to root for and believe in. I’m not a teenager. I’m an adult that loves superheroes. And for this reason, I’m saddened by who this character is slowly becoming as she takes a backseat to everyone around her. Even worse, I worry that by the time this season ends, I will have changed the channel forever. By that time, I will need to refer back to this article and remember why.
Just to cover all my bases, here are the ratings for this show. Ratings may keep the show afloat, but that doesn’t change the quality of the content. I mean, The Bachelor has great ratings. But I wouldn’t call that an example of great TV or healthy relationships either.