By Chris Morris
When the Supergirl trailer debuted all the way back in May, there were already differing opinions. Some people, after just watching six minutes of footage and dialogue, were already calling for it to be erased from history. Others liked the look of it, the tone and the charisma of star Melissa Benoist. I remember one article popping up online by a female writer with the title “Why I’m Disappointed in Supergirl”. After one six-minute trailer, this person had decided that this TV show was crap.
Jump ahead to Comic Con in San Diego, 2015. By then, the Supergirl pilot had, like Constantine and Flash the summer before, mysteriously shown up online, available for anyone to watch. And people had, indeed, watched it. I went to a panel about Strong Female Characters, a panel with one man and three women on it. I asked if any of them had seen the pilot or the trailer. None would admit to seeing the pilot (with a “nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean?”) but they all had seen the trailer. All the women had enjoyed the trailer and what looked like what the tone would be. The man hated it. He hated the discussion of clothes and the whole “Ally McBeal” or “Devil Wears Prada” work place stuff. The women were quick to defend it, saying they liked that she could be all-powerful but also had a girly-girl side.
People were comparing it to the SNL Black Widow rom-com parody. My response was “Give it a few episodes before judging”. Of course that would take patience, but I stood by that. And now four episodes (or more depending on when you read this) have aired. And I love Supergirl. I’m not sure it will ever surpass my love for Arrow or The Flash, but it’s a solid TV show.
What do I love about it? The fact Kara loves being Supergirl. The fact that the story at the centre of the show is that of two sisters. The fact Supergirl has a totally different origin story than Superman and presumably they will explore her life on Krypton more in flashbacks (a la Arrow). The fact she saves an airplane in the pilot (carrying on the tradition of Brandon Routh in Superman Returns’ best scene and Christopher Reeve saving Margot Kidder and a helicopter, etc.). The fact the DEO is the government agency in charge has a lot of potential, and Cameron Chase has been added to the cast. The fact seven SCENES in the pilot passed the Beschdel Test. The fact they honour the past, such as having Dean Cain and Helen Slater in the cast. The fact they are adding Red Tornado and Lucy Lane! The fact J’ONN J’ONZZ is in the cast (c’mon, Hank Henshaw has red eyes, lost his family awhile back and can read minds? He’s not Cyborg Superman he’s THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER!)
The show isn’t perfect. Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant needs to add some character depth soon, although “Live Wire” helped alot. Maxwell Lord was on screen for a big chunk of an episode and never once got a nosebleed. And like both Arrow and The Flash early on, a lot of scenes end with someone storming out of a room rather than just, like, talking. But the show is great and has a ton of potential to get even better, again like Arrow and The Flash did. How can you not love a show where Supergirl saves a snake named Fluffy out of a tree?
But yet the ratings aren’t great. It had a big debut, helped by being paired with juggernaut Big Bang Theory, but the ratings have slipped every week since then. Why is this? Do people want their female heroes more like male heroes? Is the show too “girly?” Is this a problem with being on CBS? Like Constantine last year, are expectations too high being on a network show? Would it do better on ABC paired with Once Upon a Time or a Shonda Rhimes show? Would it do better on The CW? Is network television, in general, dead? I don’t think the show is going anywhere anytime soon, it will get probably at least two seasons, but will it be a top CBS show or end up on Friday nights, again like Constantine, where it will die a slow death.
What do you think is the problem? Answer our poll below. For more detailed responses, comment below or on GGA’s Facebook page or me on Twitter @trilogycomesin3
1- Is the show too “girly” (read above) for a large demographic?
2- Is CBS the problem?
3- Should it be on another network like ABC?
4- Should it be on the CW?
5- Is network television dead?
6- It’s fine where it is, just needs time to build an audience
Also check out my Indiegogo crowd funding campaign “The Supers: 3rd Best Superhero Team in the World” comic book. I think you’ll like it.
Follow Chris Morris on twitter, here!
Chris Morris is a filmmaker, world-traveller and comic book writer who has an Indiegogo campaign “The Supers: the 3rd Best Super-Team in the World” that you can check out here…in fact you NEED to check it out here!