so, having watched the supergirl pilot ( which I’m almost entirely certain was leaked intentionally by cbs – my conscience is clearish) earlier today while trying to fight a flu, I can say that I did not end up resenting it. as I’ve already noted, I had seen the second trailer before, so I’m not staring at a reflection of myself in the mirror whisper-screaming “traitor” for the disparity between my strong, negative reactions to the first-look promotions and my reaction to this initial episode. I still have reservations about it, and it’s still peeving me.
most of my criticism boils down to that it was very much a pilot: we’re told an enormous amount instead of being shown, and we’re expected to just accept it.
the premise of the show is that kara’s learning to be a hero after spending so long on the sidelines, but what it fails to address fully is why kara benched herself. it’s irritating that her jumping into action for the first time is such an important progression of character and is given so much time and attention (it’s the Entire Show, Y’all) when kara herself had made the independent decision years earlier to stay out of trouble. she comes to earth to protect her alien cousin, finds out she’s two decades late and everything’s fine, decides to chill out, and then, after she’s pursued a career, suddenly resents her life? baby girl, that was you! you made that choice. did a couple weeks/months at a media company really turn you off to the soulless corporate machine so dramatically you decided “fuck, I want to go set things on fire with my eyes and rescue cats from trees instead”? like, relatable, honestly, but this is never gone into. a lot of the pilot paints this kara vs. world narrative, where the people in her life are underestimating her, trying to control her, disrespecting her, trying to kill her, and she’s got to Prove Herself, but this inconsistent with the way kara chose not to pursue a life of heroism very early on, which is entirely kara vs. self.
additionally, a lot of kara’s background is never elaborated on in a way that grounds the show. kara was 12 when she left krypton, a mini-person. yet she’s constantly surprised at learning what her birth mother’s job was, that she had a message from her parents still left inside her ship, at learning what pain feels like (something she would’ve felt when she was still on krypton and was Not A Sun God). we’re also told kara has complete control over her powers and that’s never touched on. do you know how many adaptations of superman focus largely on him not trying to Wreck Shit? nearly all of ‘em. also, like. she was 12 years old, old enough to remember Krypton, to know it as home. she comes to earth knowing that EVERYONE she knows, spare her infant cousin, is dead. that’s like, apparently nbd?
her relationship with alex, her foster sister, isn’t really organic, either. how’d they get to be so close? how was that transition? I find it hard to believe that only after a dozen years would she admit that having an overpowered alien sister wasn’t the easiest thing, especially if they met each other when they were both older children. it gets better over the course of the pilot, but the early scenes aren’t entirely believable. they’re sweet, though.
I also have to talk about The Scene, which was actually worse than it looked in the six-minute trailer. kara storms into the office after an already shitty day and starts telling her boss that they can’t name her supergirl, that she’s a woman, that it’s (literally, on a light-hearted show on a major network, our protag says this out loud, it was Good – and then it was bad) antifeminist to brand her as a girl. her boss throws back that she, the most powerful woman in national city, owner of an enormous media conglomerate, is a girl, and her employer. is there anything wrong with that, kara? are you saying that there’s something wrong with me, kara? you’re fired, kara. and then kara actually gets fired. because she objectified, rightly, to the infantilization of her own name. the only reason she isn’t fired is because james olsen saves her ass, but honestly. way to miss the point. I got up and started pacing angrily at the utter failure of their attempts at empowerment or whatever. the writers try to save themselves down the line and start to hint that the “supergirl” label is actually offers a strategic advantage, meant to mislead villains into thinking she’s “just a girl” and end up underestimating her only to meet Swift Defeat, but like, honestly? that would work the first three times, tops. then everyone would know that supergirl could kick your ass. on this same-ass tangent, the show uses the word “female” like, way too much. way too much. it’s clumsy and clinical and strange.
also, winslow schott, whose name I had to google three times today because he was such a detestable, insignificant little pest that I couldn’t remember what the fuck he was called, seemed more like the kind of character later rewritten and recast (or replaced entirely) after an overwhelmingly negative response by focus groups. he spends most of his lines either mansplaining to kara about love and how much better his wardrobe opinion is, or to kara, indirectly, about supergirl’s validity as a superhero, and being a narcissistic, vaguely homophobic little dweebnut. his necessity to the plot extended, literally, only to helping kara design her outfit and to direct her to like, three crime scenes, which amounted to like, three lines about hacking and capes. his role could’ve easily been incorporated into james olsen’s, or another, more memorable original character. his hacking skills aren’t really needed, after all. kara has superhearing, like her cousin – superman’s method to figure out where he needs to be is to literally fly into space like a melodramatic god-geek and listen to the millions of cries of everyone below.
another weird thing: why would anyone walk out of a date with kara. I honestly don’t know what that man was looking for if not for a conventionally attractive, coherent blonde woman. this sort of leads into another thing, which is why in God’s name does kara think her life is The Pits. she lives in a beautiful, spacious apartment. she has an adoring family. she’s beautiful and blonde and white and thin and smart. the most disappointing thing about this show is that kara is supposed to be overcoming enormous obstacles, but the demographics kara falls into never really experience an enormous amount of struggle. it’s not her fault, certainly, but it would make for so much more of a conscious, tangible story if kara wasn’t just coded as a minority (superman himself was written by two jewish men as an immigrant, a struggling refugee, only instead of fleeing eastern europe for new york, he came from krypton to earth) but actually was a member of a marginalized group. or at least played by one. please explicitly lay out your oppression metaphors it’s 2015.
which also leads into the fact that this supergirl pilot was almost blindingly white. the only two racial minorities are james olsen (thumbs up emoji, honestly) and hank henshaw. both of those characters were white in the comics. the more inclusive casting isn’t a negative, exactly, but there exist characters of color in the dc universe who have stories of their own that deserve a shot, too. if you could somehow make winslow schott, a canonically supervillainous dickweed, into a recurring, friendly character, you’re out of excuses. kara also adamantly insists she’s not gay, so that’s two strikes, supergirl pilot. what are you doing.
ARE WE FOCUSING ON POSITIVES, NOW? HERE ARE SOME THINGS I ENJOYED, GENUINELY:
- james olsen. he’s really, really cute and a phenomenal addition. apparently only clark kent and mrs. olsen are the only ones that are allowed to call him jimmy that’s literally too precious? he’s also like ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°) at kara, the entire time.
- the way kara slouched when her coworker guessed at supergirl’s height was delightful.
- the shirt rip was good. kara is good. kara is a sweetheart. a very cute sweetheart.
- alex insisting to henshaw that kara didn’t need to be restrained while removing her kryptonite cuffs to be one of the most endearing parts of the episode.
- dean cain and laura slate as kara’s earth parents. I snorted.
- the outfit..? it grew on me, honestly.
- I like how the red of clark’s blanket matched kara’s outfit perfectly. the universe is just so serendipitous.
- “SUPERFRIENDS!” “absolutely not”