I must admit, it took me a while to warm up to Supergirl (the TV show, not the character). After the breakout successes of Arrow and The Flash on The CW, the CBS-produced Supergirl seemed to suffer from a lack of focus and compelling storyline development exhibited by the other shows. (Now that Supergirl is on its second season having joined The CW proper, perhaps it will have a chance to spread its narrative wings).
However, once I really gave Season 1 a chance and allowed myself to become attached to the characters, I started to appreciate what the show means to female fans of sci-fi/comics and the show’s overall position within the larger TV landscape. I also came to love Melissa Benoist’s pitch-perfect portrayal of an outwardly uncertain but inwardly powerful female superhero.
As a matter of fact, one of the most striking aspects of Kara Danvers (aka Supergirl) is her somewhat anachronistic demeanor. She is, in most respects, a traditionally feminine character. She’s soft and pretty. She’s compassionate. She wears her emotions on her sleeve (despite her regular attempts to do otherwise). She’s constantly second guessing herself. She’s an executive assistant, which is essentially a fancy way of saying she’s a secretary. She is afraid to shine, to stand out. And for good reason! Hiding god-like powers and blending into the crowd is no small feat.
Supergirl teaches us that, even when it seems women are particularly at a disadvantage of “having it all” and managing professional as well as personal lives with aplomb, it absolutely possible. Not only does Kara Danvers become better at playing Executive Assistant by day and Supergirl by night, with a side helping of romance for good measure, but she aids her sometimes mentor sometimes thorn-in-her-side boss Cat Grant, played by Calista Flockhart, in learning to embrace her feminine side and compassion for others without losing what makes her a successful businesswoman and CEO.
As the father of two young girls myself, I see aspects of both Kara and Cat in their budding womanhood—and for that reason alone, I find the female role models in this show to be inspiring. At the same time, it also causes me to ask such age-old questions as: will my children be at a disadvantage when they grow up simply because they’re women? Will their femininity aid or hinder their success? Will they break glass ceilings and prove themselves every bit as capable as the men in their lives?
Supergirl has the exact same powers as Superman. She is going to change the way girls feel about themselves with her energy and her light. It’s crazy. She’s going to fly.
Despite my new-found love of Supergirl, I do have one remaining beef with the TV show. Some of the male characters seem rather two-dimensional and even at times somewhat wishy-washy. But let’s face it, there have been plenty of one-note female characters within male-dominated action hero plots over the years. In light of such imbalances, I hardly have the right to complain. When it comes to Supergirl, let the women have the spotlight!
Cover photo: Melissa Benoist as Supergirl (Credit: CBS/The CW)