I’ll admit to being seriously worried about the transition from CBS to CW from season one to two. As an Arrowverse viewer, I was excited for the increased opportunity of crossovers. However, it was impossible to not be leery of the CW writing tropes and mermaid hair. And yes, the mermaid hair is real. Even Alex Danvers has gotten it on some episodes, and she just should not ever. Thankfully this season she has a new haircut entirely!
Even though there have been a couple culpable episodes of bad CW writing and maybe a little too far of a shift to an ensemble show, the core of the show remains so strong that I recommend everyone watch it. Like, right now. Seriously, go binge if you’re not current! Start from the very beginning because it’s totally worth it!
That said, I will enlighten you as to why I feel this way with as minimal of spoilers as possible.
Strong Protagonists, Who Happen to Almost All Be Women
So, obviously Kara Danvers/Supergirl is a woman and the lead protagonist, but mainly supported by males she is not. The cast is not just distinctly female in headcount, but also in page count. Scenes upon scenes of women having conversations with each other about literally everything in the universe. The woman pitted against another woman trope doesn’t exist in Supergirl. The only time you see a female undermining another female is when the latter is trying to destroy National City or commit genocide.
This season marks something special though, because not only did they introduce a new female character, she’s a transgender woman who will become the superhero Dreamer in the show and is played by a transgender woman, who is already a hero in real life. Nicole Maines, who is playing Nia Nal/Dreamer, kicked some real life butt when she won the 2014 Maine case that ruled barring teens from using the gender bathroom of their choice violated the state’s human rights code.
Strong Antagonists, Who Happen to Almost All Be Women
Another thing the show does well is strong antagonists. Who, as you may have guessed by now, happen to almost all be women. Why Supergirl’s villains are so great is because they are conflicted. Sure, week to week the baddie doesn’t lean either way gender-wise, but the season-long villains so far have all been women. Some way more complicated to decide if you love or hate them than others… we’re talking like “Is Loki a villain” kind of situations! Arrow and Flash could reeeeeally take a page from Supergirl’s antagonist book.
What is especially rewarding about these antagonists is that we get a ton of female actors being given roles, because usually the baddie dies. I think my only complaint would be that they need to diversify race a little more in the main antagonists (and protagonists for that matter, though obviously that’s harder to change as protagonists tend to remain the same season to season).
Sisterly Bond = My Favorite
Perhaps it’s a personal bias because my sister is super amazing (shout out to Rachel!), but the sister relationship between Kara and Alex is 100% my favorite thing about the show. Right from the very first episode, we see the sisters watching TV shows together with takeout and wine as a Danvers sister tradition. They’re seriously BFFs and have every amazing element of sisterhood you possibly can. They draw strength from each other, give support to the other’s weaknesses, call out BS, and have productive arguments that lead to lots of hugs and positive energy.
Both sisters would die for each other, which seems trite until you remember that this is a show where the characters face deadly dangers every week. While Kara is the one with yellow sun induced superpowers, Alex is a government agent trained in combat specifically to fight alien threats. This enables them to team up quite often to save National City and/or the Earth. Some of the strongest sequences in the show stem from the bond between these two and how they can pull the other out of a very dark place and back into shining in the light. Seriously, I’m starting to cry just thinking about those scenes! So. Friggin. Good.
Forgiveness, Not Stupid Angst Themes
One of the most annoying things about CW shows these days is how stubborn people are about stupid things. Soooooo much drama could be avoided if people would just talk to each other for a freaking second instead of stomping off in a huff. And don’t even get me started on Oliver McBroody Queen! One thing I love about Supergirl so much is how well the characters communicate, and even just remember to communicate. Listening is definitely something that happens on this show.
Also, when terrible things do happen (come on, it’s a superhero show, of course bad things happen), the characters are able to support each other. Even when it’s difficult emotionally to do so. Kara is very giving, and her supporting cast all know how to help her when she gives too much. Plus there was this one time when I was super worried that Kara and Alex would be at odds forever, and then Kara just forgave Alex. Just like that. It was so nice to see, because really, when the fate of the world is on the line, you don’t have time to stay mad at someone.
Sociopolitical Commentary Interwoven with Plot
Sure having sociopolitical themes has become commonplace in TV shows, but with Supergirl it’s always been a core element of the show. Since Kara works for a media news company, CatCo, we immediately get a lot of news. However, it’s CatCo’s founder, Cat Grant, who hammers home the sexist nature of the media industry as a theme. It’s a bit meta in that this is the media as it’s television. Sexism, gender equality, and female empowerment are played out in very real ways in both the Kara Danvers and Supergirl storylines throughout the first season.
While this continues to be a through line every season, other themes definitely emerge. Racism, loneliness, identity, homophobia, Alzheimer’s and dementia, genocide and ethnic cleansing, slavery, criminal justice reform, ethics in research and development, grief, religion and faith, mental illness, and domestic abuse are all themes I can remember offhand from the show. It’s heavy; it’s real. This season is all about how a nation can come together when they’re all so divided. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you as real life problems, then I’m not sure where you live.
Supergirl Is All About Hope, Literally
Kara’s Kryptonian name is Kara Zor-El. She’s the cousin of Superman (Kal El) and also from the house of El. On Krypton, this house stood for Light and Hope. Somehow the writers have managed to keep Kara’s baseline character trait of hope completely intact through three full seasons. And now into a fourth! Let me tell you, this alien has been through quite a lot!
I cannot recommend watching Supergirl enough. It is seriously the best superhero show out there.