Dear ‘Supergirl’, I love you! Also, are we breaking up?!?
I’m one of those folks who is currently in a passion love-hate or else hate-love relationship with the show Supergirl depending on the day. I wanted to write this long post for folks who are also processing this currently. I had been thinking for a long time that aside from the single thread of the Mon-El storyline, Supergirl still had a solid, core identity as a show. The show’s appeal to its audience rested on four foundations in my mind: 1) the incredible likability and reliability of their dynamic lead with her awesome combination of classic hero problems and recognizable lady problems 2) a charismatic and deep sisterhood that formed the central love relationship and unified the dramatic arcs of the show and also let it pass the Bechdel test every episode quite easily 3) positive representations of both women and the men who are also outsiders that they share love bonds with, and 4) general lightheartedness and positivity, so even when it went dark, it was just not all THAT dark. At its worst, the show was fluffy or annoying.
With the trust I had established through s1, I thought that what they were trying to do with Mon-El was to depict a narcissistic, sexist guy who turns into one of the good guys. I thought, well, they think that’s a positive message. They’ve depicted him an “outsider” or misfit, because he’s among all these high-functioning outsiders acting like an incompetent norm. And I thought, well, this was a terrible idea. When you write a subversive story, and then you subvert your subversion, you get normative crap that’s even more generic than the original crap. It’s a parody that’s hard to watch. But it’s all well intentioned. And it will be over soon. It’s not the show. This won’t kick the foundations out from under the show.
I am honestly no longer confident that this was well-intentioned or that it won’t topple the show. I am holding onto a strong, final thread of trust in this show. But this feels now more like backlash within this show against its own core identity and values. The way they have written Mon-El feels like a gender panic and also a heteronormative panic to me. And it is absolutely NOT the actor. He’s clearly fine. He even seems like he’s probably really sweet in real life while acting like a complete jerk on tv, kind of like when Orlando Bloom tries to play a villain, and it’s like, yeah, no, you buy teddy bears for your girlfriend and one for yourself to match when you do, don’t try to play me here, babe. It’s the character, the caricature they have written. When they could have written ANYONE - a thousand other men instead of this one. So why this one?