Note: Spoilers ahead
“Now, look, I’m not immune to the allure of James Olsen wearing a shirt that is unbuttoned one too many. But a woman with brains who gives up everything for love inevitably finds herself staring into an existential abyss that men, babies and cardio bars simply cannot fill.”
The CW’s 4 -part heroes’ event Invasion! just aired. Though I have been familiar with Arrow and The Flash, I have been neglecting this network’s newest addition to its superhero lineup—Supergirl.
When it first aired in the fall of 2015 on CBS, I was skeptical, to say the least. Yes, the networks were riding on the success of Arrow, Flash, Agent Carter, Agents of Shield and other superhero television adaptations. However, this one bugged me to the core because yet again a thin, blonde woman was featured as its main character along with other thin, white women. I never really gave the show a chance since it clearly mirrored the countless others in their lack of diversity and representation. I never thought it would last this long and don’t care much about the writing either. I was willing to binge watch The Flash because of its three main POC characters and Arrow because of the intelligent and dynamic female characters—Why not Supergirl? What was it about this show that I couldn’t stand? Why could I except Barry Allen and Oliver Queen but not Kara Danvers?
On November 14th, 2016, the show, now in its second season, aired an episode entitled Changing. I was patiently waiting for its end in order to catch my favorite show at the moment, Jane the Virgin which has surprising qualities of its own but that will be discussed on another day. Between US president (played by Lynda Carter aka Wonder Woman) speaking about immigration, and detective Maggie Sawyer kickass fighting skills and gay storyline, I had to put my phone down and pay attention. However, it wasn’t until I saw how Oliver treated Kara in Invasion (The Flash’s storyline) that I felt the need to know more about her. Here was big, strong, dominating Oliver with his arrow up his ass, intimidated by this super strong woman who defeated all of his squad without breaking a nail!
I decided to give her story a chance and binged watched the entire first season on Netflix. All I can say is, “I’m hooked.” I won’t sit here and tell you all about how great the show is because it can definitely be better. Though its storylines are muddy and so it’s the dialogue (I think it got better with each passing episode), I couldn’t stop watching. I was hooked because I finally understood why I couldn’t get into the show in the first place—I lost hope. Yes, for all my rants about female empowerment and needing more dynamic characters, I settled with my weekly fix of Felicity Smoak Caitlin Snow and Sarah Lance. These ladies, though intelligent and emotionally 3 dimensional are sidekicks to their male superheroes. I lost hope that a female leading cast, an estrogen filled hour of television fantasy-drama couldn’t survive. I also couldn’t stomach the incredible possibility of a female president transforming the immigration landscape, a female media mogul with a soul, a single kickass government agent, a black female senator, a matriarchal alien race and above all, a female superhero whom The Flash and The Arrow can’t event close too.
I felt bombarded and poked on the nose by these notions, especially on episodes like “How does she do it” when it speaks to Cat Grant and how she manages to have her media empire and be a supportive mother to her socially awkward son. Cat Grant is the human version of Supergirl—she can do anything, she fears nothing and gets shit done! She also happens to be preserved as a bitch but she explains that comes with the territory and she couldn’t care less.
Binge watching the show reminded me of my time re-watching Charmed and how I loved seeing women with attitude, power, and intellect. However, this time, it felt different. I cried when Astra died, not just because of the emotional scene but because her character was such a great, dynamic villain with a developed background story, questionable values and of course her command of a male alien army. The more I watched, the more I began to believe this world was possible. Yet, taking a break and hitting Facebook, I read about a woman’s Twitter rant against Donald Trump—it brought me back to reality.
I recently read this article entitled: “Can Supergirl Survive Trump?” and it said everything I was feeling. This is why I felt strange watching the show. When in reality there is a white misogynistic, racist man in power, it can be difficult to properly escape into Supergirl’s universe and fully immersed myself in the story. I just can’t believe it. It’s not real to me that this world is possible. Yet, like the article says, the show may not be perfect but it brings hope. A hope that is lost because of this recent election, because of the frequent police brutality cases, because immigrants and refugees are criminalized and LGBT people are demonized. How can I watch a show where aliens and humans co-exist, a woman can be both single and career-driven (Cat and Alex’s lives as single women are never questioned), a show where James Olsen is Black (usually white in all other portrayals) and Lynda Carter is our president?
The show’s female-to-female dynamics are what makes it great!
Kara and Cat’s relationship is my favorite. The meek and shy Kara admires the tough and confident media mogul Cat Grant. Cat mentors both Kara and Supergirl as she is the true girl of steel and maiden of might. What Supergirl can do with strength and laser vision, Ms. Grant can do with words. My favorite part of this relationship is that Cat supports Kara and has taken her under her wing. She sees the potential and instead of being intimidated by her and Supergirl, Cat embraces these and lends a hand in a form of a loving but firm pep talks. Kara, on the other hand, reminds Cat that letting others in doesn’t make us weak but stronger. Being a media buff I’m a little bias for my love of Cat Grant but come on, she saved the world using it! (Season 1 finale)
Alex and Kara are the sisterly duos I’ve been craving for. Though they admit to having differences growing up, they love each other unconditionally. What I love most about this relationship is that unlike the codependent one carried out by the other CW sibling duo Sam and Dean of Supernatural, Kara, and Alex stand as two independent people. The show could have been great if it only featured one of these ladies but it makes it great to have then both fighting alongside each other. Jealousy on both parts has been addressed and I’m having that season 2 has the sisters closer than ever but that it has opened up more on Alex’s character.
The most surprising storyline for me came in the form of the love triangle. These have a tendency of turning a sensible young woman into an immature teenager. Not here. Kara and Lucy’s love for James was handle with no drama between the ladies but instead mutual admiration for each other’s qualities. Lucy especially could have felt threaten, but after talking with Cat about her future, she realized, as did Kara in season 2, that she has so much more to offer than just her love. She didn’t feel sad or bitter, both ladies realized James Olsen is great, but there’s more to life than a hot guy. They went back to work as Supergirl and director of the DEO, putting behind any reminiscing of jealousy they might have had.
The men are there, don’t worry, it’s not all female all the time. Jimmy, Winn, and Hank are okay with being the support team—love their characters! Even Superman has kept his distance to give space for his cousin to shine and so does his nemeses Lex Luther, whose sister Lana Luther is the one holding down the family name on the show. (I won’t even get into my love of how both heroes and villains are women on the show!)
I’m happy to have given this show a chance. No, the show is not perfect, there’s still a lack of diversity and a few writing kinks. However, huddled in my binge bubble I felt like a teenager watching Charmed, Xena, and Sailormoon. Though I can’t ignore the reality of my Earth, I see how this show can inspire and give hope. The narrative of immigrants, LGBT community, and women empowerment are necessary in today’s world. Yes, it’s only fantasy, but storytelling, if strong and compelling enough, has a way of provoking change. Who knows if the future female president is sitting right now watching this show, becoming inspired to lead with intelligence, kindness and other women by her side.
Female relationship on fleek!