Look! Up the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a flying teeny bopper who just wants to put a smile on all our faces with her delightful charm and nauseating positivity. Co-creator Greg Berlanti, the man responsible for much of the TV programming on the CW, has decided to take a much younger approach to superheroes with the upcoming Supergirl series set to air on CBS. Gone is everything that made shows like Arrow and The Flash fresh, unique, fun, smart, and watchable. Corny humor, constant cheesy smiles, and campy dialogue is here to make your Monday nights dreadful.
This show is based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El (Glee’s Melissa Benoist), who, like her younger cousin Superman, escaped from the planet Kypton just before everything went boom boom bye. Tasked with protecting her baby cousin Kal-EL, Kara’s pod was thrown off course, caught in the “phantom zone” where time did not pass for 24 years, making her much younger than her famous cousin who is now flying around all willy-nilly, saving people and not yet destroying Metropolis and upsetting Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Oh wait… wrong Superman.
Just like Superman, Kara never had to suffer through the adoption process or the horrors of foster care. Thanks to her big cousin, she was immediately adopted by the Danvers family, and has since grown up with her older adopted sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh) who has always told her to hide her powers (jealous, maybe?) and settle for being a “normal teenager,” minus the part about being normal (no zits for you).
Flash forward several years and Kara is now a happy-go-lucky, everything-is-bright young woman, working as an assistant to the overpowering Cat Grant played by Calista Flockhart (think a perkier Anna Wintour), who owns the local paper “The Tribune,” amongst others proprieties. One of the employees is Jimmy Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), now going by James (yay adulthood), a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer of Superman. Kara and James have a sort of forced chemistry; the kind where smiling and laughing at each other will hopefully translate into something worthy of your time but you doubt it will.
In an attempt to make us care, the paper is losing money and is facing its demise. Why? Simple: there are no Supermen flying about helping to stop crime in these parts of town; no one helping the elderly cross the street, or returning kittens to their rightful owners. Damn you Daily Planet and your Superman! How dare you save people? The only way for the National City paper to gain any traction is if it had a superhero of its own to write about. We all know in the land of superheroes, dreams never come true, just random predictable events that help move the plot forward.
Kara Danvers is nervous, clumsy, shy, and annoyingly upbeat; everything that makes you want to vomit. Not yet the Supergirl we wish we were watching, she is tasked with getting coffee for her boss instead of using her powers for anything. I’m serious, not a single damn thing. It’s like Papa Kent is magically stalking her, lurking in every corner ready to pounce if she even thinks about using her x-ray vision to even heat on latte.
However, this all changes when her sister’s plane is about to crash and she decides to use her powers (the same ones she hasn’t used in years) to expertly guide her sister’s plane to safety. What becomes a technical self-centered act of love (damn the other planes that crashed), results in her being thrust into the spotlight, having her life forever changed (if only the the writing was that lucky). Now labeled “Supergirl” because “girls” are cool damnit!, Kara discovers the superhero she’s been all along.
Cue Rachel Platten’s Fight Song.
Supergirl is simply painful and unwatchable if you’re over the age of 12. Unlike Arrow or The Flash, which are grounded in realistic stories that people from all walks of life can can relate to (Iris’s mother was a drug addict for example). Supergirl is stuck in its own dated world; much like watching Leave it to Beaver in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement or the JFK assassination. I’m not saying it has to be dark and gritty like Daredevil, but Kara was 13 when everyone she loved died. Imagine coming to the world knowing no one and the one person you do know is now a grown man with his own life. You’re forced to live with strangers, hiding who you really are. The pilot had a chance to actually be deep, thought-provoking and realistic. Instead, it chooses to become a joke carried by Kara’s laugh-snorts throughout. All I ask for is two different emotions.
If by any chance you forgot Supergirl is Superman’s cousin, the show will remind you, until it’s beaten into your head so many times you will utter Superman’s name with your dying breath. Were the writers afraid that unless Superman was mentioned that people would realize the show is dreadful? Is saying the name “Superman” sort of hypnotic? So many questions, not enough answers.
Yes, Supergirl is fun but it also doesn’t make use of the massive talents at its disposal. Laura Benanti is perfection but she’s buried into a dreadfully boring old lady persona in the pilot. Benoist is bright and bubbly as Kara but I’ve seen more acting prowess from her in Glee… Glee! Yes, she’s sincere and there is honesty in her words, yet she plays everything one-note without an ounce of dimension. Shockingly, Calista Flockhart (who decided to eat this time around), is a breath of fresh air. She is meant to be cold and uncaring, yet you can see how vulnerable she is, especially after realizing her company is about to fold. She coins this mysterious female savior as “Super GIRL” not as a demeaning tactic, but to show that “girls” can be strong people who repeatedly save the day, which is a joke since the show never makes good use of this ideology.
Despite the negatives, there are some amazing fight scenes where the special effects bleed effortlessly into each scene. Kara’s costume is bright and colorful and fits well with her cape. However, these beautiful moments are weighed down by the unbearable background music that bludgeons emotions into your skull instead of gently making you feel a scene. Every five seconds we get another musical note cutting into the dialogue or fight scene. It’s distracting and unnecessary.
Supergirl is a waste of time, a true disappointment and an insult to what it’s trying to promote. Females are strong, bad-ass, vulnerable and multi-faceted. They are more than picking out the right costumes and bouncing in heels. Yes, women love pink, shopping, and doing their nails. They have crushes and become shy; they also love football and roughhousing. This show seems to have forgotten what it means to be a female, yet it has the nerve to call itself “Supergirl.” This show is neither empowering nor endearing, is it the modern-day June Cleaver in an age where people are in need of a humanistic superhero.