I’m a big fan of the CW’s DC TV shows, but I can admit there are some obvious flaws. Arrow, started off but seasons three and four seemed to stall a little bit. The Flash is a great hero but they can’t seem to get right the ship when it comes to their time travel, and things seem to get ever more convoluted. Legends of Tomorrow suffers from the fact that they had a very specific mission season one and how were they going to move forward, luckily they have actually improved in season two.
Which leaves us with Supergirl, I am not going to argue that it is the best show of the four, or even that it is my favorite, a big problem is that even within the confines of the show Supergirl seems to live in Superman’s shadow, and they have embraced that more than they should. What I do think is that Supergirl (which switched from CBS to CW this season) has one very specific advantage.
It’s not shying away from controversy.
This season, Arrow has had an episode in which gun control was a hotly debated topic, unfortunately they didn’t take much of a stand either way on the topic, trying to come up with a compromise—realistically that is the best way to deal with it, but it came across more as not wanting to alienate either side of the audience. Legends of Tomorrow had an episode where they discussed whether or not to free a plantation full of slaves and the moral implication with changing history, ultimately they used it as a poignant way of showing how much worse slavery had been than it may seem to young people today.
Supergirl however has spent the entire season doing two specific things: showing Alex Danvers’ personal realization of her sexuality, her coming out to her family, and all of the insecurities that it entails; and secondly they’ve been establishing the over arching plot as that of a rogue group of citizens or terrorists, called Cadmus, wanting to rid the Earth of alien threats. They have spent the season discussing an alien registration list, discussed the idea of killing them all, and in tonight’s episode, “Exodus,” they attempted to deport as many of those aliens as possible via a rocket to the other side of the universe.
In case there is any doubt that this overall story arch is a reflection of what is going on in real world politics, the show made sure to drop the term “fake news,” and mention a fascist accidentally winning the Presidency.
I know that there are a lot of people who want to just watch mindless entertainment, but that has never really been what comic books or sci-fi are, they tend to be allegorical and try to challenge us as society marches forward. The X-Men are a metaphor for Civil Rights, Spiderman is a metaphor for adolescence and growing into adulthood, and Supergirl (the TV show at least) is becoming a metaphor for the ‘other’ coming together and standing up for themselves.
Ultimately, if they continue to stand for something, I will continue to watch. I may not find it as overwhelmingly fun as The Flash, but I believe that this is what comics and movies should be. (A small side-note, I think that Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have both succeeded in this way as well.)