As a fan of all things superhero, it’s no surprise I picked up Supergirl when it came time for her TV debut. The show has some things going for it. It’s cute and the characters are enjoyable, but it isn’t thick on deeper content and struggles on a more meaningful level. I think the show takes its family friendly vibe a bit too seriously and could stand to pull a few of the cliched flowers out of its climactic dialogue.
When I started this show, I immediately fell in love with Kara. She does cute and awkward as good as the best of them and I immediately related to her want to be something more than her adorable but mild-mannered life. But that is the only character I can say I have real feelings for, all the character work done in Supergirl gives you real attachment to the characters. Even though there are many cliche’s interwoven into the dialogue, I find myself smiling through the cringe even in these moments and really rooting for a top quality cast.
The cringes, however, are a big part of this show. I can’t tell you how many times the dialogue reverts into a shamefully overt sharing of moral values and right and wrong. I think this is a problem I commonly see especially in many of DCs longer running shows, but something about this show grows all the flowery speech directly into the conflicts. The writing sadly leaves much to be desired when dealing with bigger issues, and the parts of the show that should make me most excited, those during the show’s most climactic scenes, make me feel let down that they couldn’t have sold the tension and decisions to me in a more sophisticated way—if by doing nothing else then just letting the situation say more by itself without all the words. Luckily, most audiences watch shows more for characters than their thematic articulation, but I’m just here wishing more shows could do both.
However, there is a less obvious praise to be laid on the show as well. It’s one of the first shows to headline a major female superhero and the casting and treatment of characters based on gender hasn’t disappointed. Supergirl herself is a complex female character with many weaknesses and strengths and they make a big deal about her wanting to stand on her own, out of the shadow of her male counterpart superman. Along with Supergirl, her sister, Kat and a broad portion of her rogues gallery are also powerful women. And although there are powerful men in the show, their power is subverted by these powerful women in many of the scenarios presented in the show. It’s a refreshing pendulum swing in the realm of characters that women can inhabit in media and a hope for how the superhero industry is changing with each, unfortunately slow step. The episode dealing with how women have to deal with their anger differently in a male powered world was particularly poignant and powerful, probably the best episode of the show.
Overall I find myself leaving the show optimistic, but not overjoyed. I will continue following the show and specifically the characters into the next season, but I can’t say it’s going to take a huge priority in my life. As much as I love good characters, the weak writing and borderline juvenile handling of moral conflict has me half-committed emotionally during the most climactic moments. I’m going to give Supergirl a 6.7 out of 10, but for you saps who love a show where you feel good and learn a lesson too, this’ll do the trick with a bit of super-human kick.
Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, and Chyler Leigh: Stars