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Supergirl Is Bad TV

December 13, 2015

I wanted to like Supergirl. Really.

As a viewer, even before it aired, Supergirl faced an uphill battle with me. Not because I'm one of those evil straight white males and I can't stand having muh stronk inderpendent wimmyn on TV. If I felt that way I wouldn't have enjoyed Alias much as I did or enjoy (although it could be so much better) Agent Carter.

No, Supergirl came out with an awful trailer that looked more like a SNL parody or The Devil Wears Prada than a superhero show. We were told that the show wouldn't be like that, but so far, that trailer was exactly what we've been given.


Still, despite not liking Supergirl in general, I was interested in the show. The producers took two characters I never cared for, Green Arrow and the Barry Allen version of The Flash and made shows that I greatly enjoy. I thought they'd work their magic touch on Supergirl. Or... adding an additional show would be spreading themselves too thin. When you consider they're also making another show with Legends Of Tomorrow, I think this is a valid concern. Arrow season three was pretty bad after two strong seasons, and not so coincidentally, season three of Arrow was made at the same time as the first season of The Flash.

Melissa Benoist is great as Supergirl. She's pretty much the only good thing about the show. There are some nitpicky inconsistencies like how can Supergirl have pierced ears? What on this planet would be strong enough to puncture her skin? Or why would she sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with everyone who knows her secret identity and still wear glasses that she doesn't need? Still, she is the one saving grace of the show. Sure she's not a blonde like the comics, but she's pretty much perfect as the character and does the best she can with the scripts she's given.

The biggest weakness of the show is that if feels more like it's trying to push a few agendas (feminism and "diversity") than trying to be a piece of entertainment. To me, it would be far more effective to show Supergirl doing a bunch of cool and heroic things than have Cat Grant yapping about how "women have to be better at things then men just to be considered okay at them and can't make any mistakes" or tripe like that.

The diversity thing, which the people who make the show bang on about in the press, seems ham-handed. I don't recall them running around saying "look how diverse we are!!!" when promoting the Flash, who has a far more diverse cast. There was no, "We made Barry's stepdad black, pat us on the back!" or "Wow, we've got a smart latino scientist!" Instead they just gave us interesting characters with perfectly cast actors and let fans fall in love with them. Forget Supergirl, I want a Joe And Cisco: Investigate Weird Stuff spin-off. But really, going around giving interview after interview patting yourself on the back because your version of Jimmy Olsen won't get a sunburn just for walking by a window is no feat. You did it better on your other shows and weren't obnoxiously self-satisfied over it.

The shows other biggest weakness is the supporting cast. I say jettison them all.

They made Jimmy Olsen black. Some people made a stink about it. Some were racist most were just comic book fans. Comic book fans get pissed if you change the buckle on Wolverine's belt. I get it. People don't like change. I dislike when they make the characters in TV shows or movies look different than the books. I don't like a tall, handsome Wolverine. Bruce Banner shouldn't look like he works out. I'm willing to look past that. But not only did they change Jimmy Olsen's race, they basically created an entirely new character and just named him Jimmy Olsen. Oddly enough, they've got a character who is essentially Jimmy Olsen, aside from not being a ginger, on the show too. That character's job is to live in the friend zone which is far harder to escape from than the Phantom Zone. Instead we've got Jimmy in name only, except he looks and acts nothing like the Jimmy Olsen who's been around since the 40's. If they want Supergirl to have a crush on some sauve, handsome black guy, why not just invent a new character. It's not like Supergirl is known for her supporting cast like Superman. I've been reading comics since 1979, and I can't name one Supergirl supporting character.

The sister characer I could take or leave. She actually seems pretty unnecessary.

By far the worst character on the show is Cat Grant. (Another character, who is nothing like her comic book counterpart.) With better writing or a better performance, this could be a character that works. I get that they're going for the gruff exterior, but wise and with a heart of gold underneath thing with her. But it isn't working. As it stands, she's pretty much a character whose scenes should be fast forwarded past. At best, she almost seems like the actress stumbled onto the set of a different show but just kept acting anyway and hoping nobody would notice.

One other positive is that I do like how they made the secret alien hunting agency boss guy J'onn "Martian Manunter" J'onzz in disguise. He can stay. I've always liked J'onn. I wish they had saved him for one of the CW shows instead.

Another thing not doing this show any favors are the cheap special effects and laughable fight scenes. Given that this is a super hero show, those are two things that should be rock solid, if not spectacular. Instead it seems the show is more interested in Kara being able to stand in Cat Grant's office looking nervous while a 50 pound woman acts harsh and tells us how tough it is to be a woman. People tuning into a super hero show want to see Supergirl throwing a bus at Metallo, not to watch the lead character do her mundane job.

How to fix it? Drop the majority of the supporting cast. Better fight scenes and special effects. Stop mentioning Superman so much, because that comparison even though we haven't even seen this version of Superman, isn't doing Supergirl any favors. Concentrate on showing us more why Supergirl is awesome rather than telling us how inspirational she is. Build up some strong villains. Give us some real threats. Somewhere in the show we've got is a far better show.

At this point I'm only watching for Benoist and Martian Manhunter, but I'm incredibly close to the point of quitting. Based on the ratings, I'm far from the only one.