New TV show Supergirl surpasses meager expectations

Given my penchant to say something about comic book movies, it was only a matter of time before I wrote about the new CBS comedy, Supergirl. As an important first note, I hate when I can’t watch shows on Hulu — get with the times CBS! I am also not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and as much as I originally groaned when I saw ads for Supergirl, it wasn’t terrible!

Supergirl tells the story of Kara Danvers/Zor-El who was sent to Earth at the same time as her cousin (Clark Kent/Superman) to protect him as Krypton was destroyed. Things did not go as planned, however, and Danvers’ ship was derailed. Though Kara was originally sent to earth by her mother to protect her cousin (Superman), by the time she actually gets there, 24 years have passed. Her cousin has become Superman, and is in no need of protection, while Kara is still an 11-year-old girl because time stops in the particular corner of space where she was stuck (go with it). We meet her as a young 20-something trying to change the world (hello kindred spirit!) and fit in…by not using any of her powers. Cue the journey of self-discovery.

The awesome: There are a lot of women in this show! My main gripe with comic book films has been not just the lack of women superheroes, but the lack of women, period. Supergirl has multiple women in prominent roles, which allows for those characters to have actual depth. It’s a lot easier for me to stomach a “jealous sister,” “bitchy boss,” and “super villain” who are all women because by the sheer fact that they all exist in combination with Supergirl, Kara Danvers, herself, none of them carry the mantel or are the proverbial token.

A not as relevant fact that is still awesome: EVERYONE I LOVE IS IN THIS SHOW! Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy), Calista Flockhart (Brothers & Sisters), Mehcad Brooks (Desperate Housewives), and Jeremy Jordan (SMASH). I squealed through the whole pilot every time a new character was introduced because I love them all that much. It’s an obscure group, but that’s what makes the cast awesome.

I’m also in love with the relationship between Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Kara. Kara grows up with the Danvers, so she and Alex are adopted sisters. It was Kara’s love for Alex that led her to take the final step in embracing her powers and save a plane of people from crashing while in a literal spotlight. There is something beautiful about the struggle to embrace one’s power and potential.

Maybe it’s because I miss my own sister, but sisterly love on TV is one of my favorite things because it’s messy. Given that I am also a 20-something trying to make it while changing the world, I dig Kara’s perspective. If my sister were trapped on a plane spiraling above my city, I would absolutely try and fly up there to ensure her safety. I, however, am not an alien from Krypton, so I settle for editing her resumes instead, but same concept. Supergirl relentlessly pulls at our human heartstrings, and I love that.

The not-so-awesome: No women of color. It may feel like an obligatory critique, but when ABC is killing it in this area (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Quantico,) I’m going to keep giving it. I only watched the pilot, so maybe the show will get better in this area, but thus far I am not impressed by the lack of women of color. I do love, however, that there are two men of color in prominent roles; that is exciting. I would like some women as well.

Additionally, not everyone loves camp. I happen to be a person who does. As a queer person who enjoys queer-specific pop culture, I have to love camp and cheese or else I’m just sad. I’m not sure that mainstream audiences will get down with some of the cheesy elements of Supergirl, like the glasses throwing, shirt ripping, “saving the world” moments. These moments are also tied to those that are most “feminist,” which is problematic. They come across as shoehorning feminist issues into a show instead of regular comic book cheese, and if they’re actually meant to be serious then Supergirl really does it wrong. I’m hoping those things get ironed out sooner rather than later.

The take-away: We have a woman superhero on the screen! I am excited to see how the show develops and despite what I originally expected, it looks promising. Of course, I expect there to be naysayers who “hate” the show, but regardless of whether or not Supergirl is good TV, it is a woman-centric bright spot in an otherwise male-dominated space, and that is what I think is good.

Header image credit: Screenrant


Katie Barnes (they/them/their) is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer. While at St. Olaf College studying History and (oddly) Russian (among other things), Katie fell in love with politics, and doing the hard work in the hard places. A retired fanfiction writer, Katie now actually enjoys writing with their name attached. Katie actually loves cornfields, and thinks there is nothing better than a summer night's drive through the Indiana countryside. They love basketball and are a huge fan of the UConn women's team. When not fighting the good fight, you can usually find Katie watching sports, writing, or reading a good book.

Katie Barnes is a pop-culture obsessed activist and writer.

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