Update: Supergirl has been renewed for Season 2 but is moving to Vancouver to cut costs and over to the CW Network. We’ve already seen Kara Zor’el crossover with Grant Gustin’s Flash…now that they’re living on the same network can we expect more and in a bigger sandbox? Only time will tell!
I admit it, I was skeptical of Supergirl when I first heard of its development at CBS. Of all the properties they could develop with a Superhero slant, why would they pick that one, I asked myself.
At San Diego Comic Con this year, they screened the entire first episode in Hall H on Saturday night. It wasn’t bad at all; while I didn’t love it, I did enjoy it enough to set my PVR to record it and watch it ‘eventually.’
“Eventually” finally arrived and the verdict is in: I’m hooked.
With an excellent cast, a storyline a step above “monster of the week,” and an overwhelmingly positive message, this show has the potential to be great.
Melissa Benoist is an inspired choice as Supergirl. She plays the titular hero, and her alter-ego Kara Danvers, differently enough that both characters shine on their own, which is a key part of what made the first Superman film so fun to watch.
But the bumbling Kara isn’t just a retread of Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent; while she starts out that way perhaps, over time she develops a confidence and strength that Kent lacked.
She infuses a humanity into Supergirl that belies the character’s invulnerability. It makes this alien seem so very human.
In many ways, Supergirl faces more challenges than Superman because she needs to live up to the lofty expectations he has set being the first Kryptonian to land on Earth.
Calista Flockhart could easily have played Cat Grant to the stereotype of the “b****y” boss; that “my way is the highway, if I don’t get what I want someone loses an eye” type of character that seems prevalent today. But she doesn’t.
Over time she is revealed to be someone who’s worked hard to get where she is; someone that’s truly earned her rewards, and balances her successful career with being an excellent and loving mother. She doesn’t have to sacrifice one for the other, which is the case with these types of characters all too often. The development and portrayal of Cat so far are extremely refreshing.
The rest of the cast including David Harewood, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, and Jeremy Jordan are strong in their roles as well, but Benoist and Flockhart are the standouts.
Supergirl didn’t tread much new ground with the origin story. Kara Zor-el was sent to earth to protect her infant cousin Kal-el, who would become Superman. Her ship was knocked off course and by the time she arrived Kal-el was already grown and wouldn’t need her protection.
She is forced to reveal her powers when a plane loses control over National City and she carries it to safety.
Coming to the attention of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, she works to counter alien threats against the Earth all the while she’s trying to figure out her powers and to live a normal life.
While there are elements of “Monster of the Week” in Supergirl, the overarching plot of a Kryptonian conspiracy against the people of earth woven throughout the episodes is strong. It is certainly keeping my interest high.
Laura Benanti (whom I loved in Go On) plays the primary antagonist but I don’t completely buy her portrayal of an invincible Kryptonian. Megalomaniac, obsessed with saving species from extinction with a god complex and delusions of grandeur? Absolutely, she plays that perfectly, but she lacks the physical presence to pull off that invincibility, which is the only negative so far.
Supergirl is important
Not only is Supergirl a great show; it’s an important one.
It showcases a female hero and strong female characters who don’t fall into gender stereotypes.
Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of Shield both have strong female characters who kick butt and are second to no one, but Supergirl is the first show to put a woman front and centre; and it works.
Kara’s journey through the development and honing of her powers is analogous to the development of a girl to her full potential; work hard and you can do anything…be anyone. It’s a message that girls need to hear. Girls can be super too.
Supergirl is a great show and we need more shows like it on TV.
Supergirl airs Mondays on CBS in the US and Global in Canada