So today I finally started watching Supergirl – the infamous CW show which, like good wine, is to be paired with the growing franchise of DC Comics adaptations i.e. Arrow and Flash. From the moment it started, viewers have been giving the cold shoulder to the girl of steel. It is true that in comparison to the growing popularity of Flash, it is probably difficult for the writers of the show to understand why their superheroine is not working as well in the polls. But what does Flash and Arrow have that Supergirl doesn’t?
First of all a little bit of context. The show concentrates on Kara – cousin of the now world famous Superman – and her struggle to become the heroine she aspires to be, which means to step out of the shadow of the Man of Steel. From the first few scenes of the pilot, it appears evident that the tone of the show is very light and the colors are very bright, Kara’s clothes are colorful – without falling into that red and blue pitfall like Smallville – the sets of the show are mostly white, panoramic shots of the city are always sunny etc. All in all, it gives the show an optimistic dimension, but it also reminds viewer of a romantic comedy. The choice of Melissa Benoist (Glee) as the leading role also adds to this teenage romance kind of vibe, although you have to congratulate them for not picking a woman with huge breasts wearing a revealing outfit. All of those elements obviously differ completely from the ambiance installed in Flash or Arrow. And I think it is the major element that went against the success of the show.
But we have to give it out to the creators for trying to make Supergirl a show about and around women. Kara’s workplace is run by a woman – who you might have recognized as Calista Flockhart aka Ally McBeal – and constant references are made to the fact that being a woman is hard, and that it is a man’s world out there. But overall, the characters appear shallow and stereotyped. I get it, the creators wanted to get that key demographic that they thought they were missing. This show was clearly meant to be for girls. Notice I’m not saying women because visibly this is a show written by men who have no idea what women actually want to watch. I checked. There are nineteen writers and only six of them are women (and I am not going to tell you how many episodes they wrote). But you know what disappoints me most, is that the two principal writers are Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Both of them wrote Smallville, and honestly I don’t understand. Women rocked as much as men in Smallville. They were not reduced to those insecure and colorful versions of themselves. Even the part of Kara was more interestingly written in Smallville. I might appear a little critical but I expected so much more, with such writers and such a budget, taking into account the success of other CW shows.
All of this goes to show that in 2016, screenwriters are still unsure about what pleases female viewers. One word: Supernatural. It is dark, bloody, funny, not about cosmetic, not about romance, and most of its audience is female. But wait, I can hear you say: “Well women only watch the show simply because its two male leading actors are hot.” Well let me tell you, a pretty face goes a long way, but not for eleven seasons.
Alright so now let’s talk about what they did right with the show. You have to give it up for the special effects and the photography, it is gorgeous. On the plus side, it also gives us one of the few interracial couple on screen that does not involve a female black character with a white male. I know, you might think it’s not that important, but check it out, it’s pretty rare. As far as the comic book goes, they took some liberties, and I don’t see how we are going to end up with the Justice League if both Superman and Supergirl live on a different earth than Flash and Green Arrow. But we’ll see. I also really enjoyed the scene where Kara shots peanuts at bottles behind the counter of the bar, a clear reference to Superman III. One last thing though: Would the writers have us believe Kara has no idea what Kryptonite was? Or Red Kryptonite? I find it hard to believe that Clark would not warn his cousin of the only thing that can hurt her.
The second sort of good thing to come out of this is the millennial one. If you have watched those shows as much as I did – which I don’t recommend because I have no life – you have probably noticed something between Flash and Supergirl besides the optimistic tone (which Flash managed somewhat perfectly without falling into stereotypes) or the super tech clever and funny sidekick. It is constant references to millennial children, (i.e. people born between 1982 and 2002), Facebook, Instagram, movies references, internet jokes, and most of all hatred of the older generation for the new one. Because we have been branded as the laziest generation, as the less optimistic one, as the one that prefers entertainment over work and so on. I believe that besides trying to appeal to that generation (because we are the ones actually watching the shows), they also try to rehabilitate it through characters they hope we can relate with. And the only problem I can predict with that is that it is written for us. Not by us.
To conclude this first season has been rocky, but I can only hope good things in the future, especially now that it has been confirmed that actor Tyler Hoechlin is going to appear as Superman. I can only pray that the show will become a tiny bit darker, so that Kara will finally act as Supergirl would.