Supergirl is a show I really want to like. It’s from Greg Berlanti, the producer behind the always improving shared DC universe on the CW, and plants its flag as the bright and optimistic alternative to Man of Steel. It has a budget high enough to accurately portray a kryptonian’s powers on television, for the first time in history. Melissa Benoist is a perfect fit for Supergirl and the series is very progressive in race and gender.
And yet, I stopped watching three weeks ago and haven’t looked back. I know what has happened since, a Bizarro Supergirl and an adaptation of Alan Moore’s perfect “For the Man who has Everything” Superman story. Both of those should have me crawling back, but they aren’t. As a superhero show, the superhero parts always left me cold while the workplace plots have always been more interesting. It’s probably because the season arc is exceptionally boring. I don’t know if that’s because it’s too similar to what The Flash is doing better, or if Calista Flockhart is just so good as Cat Grant that everything else is overshadowed. What I can say is that my issue with the show began way back in the pilot. In the opening five minutes.
The moment that irks me is when Kara decides to never use her powers ever after the only family she has in the galaxy drops her off at Dean Cain’s house and leaves.
Sorry. Run on sentence.
In her first incarnation, yes, Supergirl arrived on Earth after Superman had grown up. In that story she was never older than him, but the gist of it is the same. Superman finds her when she arrives, but in that story brought her to live in a girl’s orphanage. However that story also had Superman keep Supergirl a secret so she could be a secret weapon in a time of need.
Now imagine if the series we got kept that part of the story. If we were following a Supergirl who only recently arrived on Earth and had to keep her existence a secret in case of emergency. If the series had a bit more of Smallville in it.
The thing I keep thinking about is that Supergirl feels like a reskinned Superman series, but it shouldn’t. Supergirl is a character that can tell vastly different stories than Superman. Hers is an immigrant story, not his. English is her second language and she remembers the family and planet she lost when she was young. In recent comics, this has made Supergirl angry and tough. Kara is a survivor who doesn’t always have a ton of trust in the human race. She would never be content to sit back and let her younger cousin take on everything alone. It just feels wrong.
What I keep coming back to is how Supergirl has the personality of Superman, while Man of Steel had the personality of Supergirl. All of those feelings of fear toward the human race and deep dives into Krytonian mythology in Man of Steel would have made for a great Supergirl story. Balancing work life with superheroing and inspiring hope in the common man are the basic elements of a Superman story. A lot of people say that Superman is boring, and yes he can be, which is why its so frustrating that it’s the boring aspects of Superman that have been grafted onto Supergirl for the sake of her network TV series.
Ironically, in another life I would have been more than willing to look past all this. Back when Arrow first premiered, it was a massive disservice to the character and all around not that great. However, it was also the only superhero show around. I didn’t have options, so I kept watching. Low and behold Arrow evolved into a great show that spawned at least two others. Now the TV landscape is plastered with Superheroes, and I have options. So, when I find that Supergirl isn’t telling the best Supergirl stories, I can go elsewhere.
If I hear of any A+ episodes, I will tune in. When the Flash crosses over with Supergirl, I will tune in. If the season two story line is actually engaging, I will be there.
But in the mean time, I am no longer watching Supergirl.
PS – If anyone disagrees with me, I would love to have a well reasoned conversation on the merits of Supergirl