After a lacklustre and haphazardly crafted first season with too little solace to bear through the cheese and horrendous conflict, Supergirl appeared to find a new lease of life at The CW. It started off fast, solid and totally fun … but bathing in the sun didn’t last long at all. Now the show has fallen back into its engrained ways of breaking immersion, nonsensical arcs and endlessly boring moments.
When Supergirl was first announced, it was met with rejoice from all corners of a general audience. It marked an important moment in current superhero culture, ushering in a narrative led, wholeheartedly, by a female superhero. It arrived near and around Jessica Jones and aimed to show everyone, including the industry itself, that there is in fact an audience outside of the typical white male fantasy.
Unfortunately, in both cases in fact, Jessica Jones and Supergirl were dead on arrival. It is true that both shows garnered a substantial audience and both were, oddly, critically acclaimed. But to some, including myself, both were hollow experiences that failed to do their respective characters enough justice.
Ignoring Jessica Jones for the purpose of focus, Supergirl greatly benefitted and avoided the abyss of being a crap shoot simply because of Melissa Benoist. Benoist is fittingly and perfectly cute and bubbly as Kara Danvers and, on more occasions than not, carried a limp show to weekly conclusions and moments of catharsis. Unfortunately good shows are greater than the sum on their parts. and if only one part shines brighter than the grimy exterior of others, it is doomed to fail and lose its’ audience.
CBS cancelled Supergirl after one season, and rightly so. It didn’t deserve another season. It was an overlong story that failed Supergirl, female superheroes and its intended audience because it fell into its own uneventful persona.
Then came the hesitantly optimistic news that Supergirl would find a home at The CW. It would reinvigorate itself by truly joining the likes of Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. It was a start.
Then came news that Tyler Hoechlin would arrive in National City as Superman, a character that only appeared in the first season in painful and infuriating long shots and flashes. Things were starting to look considerably up.
The season started and it was fun. It was fast, it was cute, it was funny and it seemed like a completely different show. From hiding aliens away in the first season, Supergirl ushered in a season embracing interspecies relations, a bountiful selection of new characters and emotional temporary goodbye for established ones.
Two episodes in and Supergirl appeared to have left rehab reformed and up to standard for the first time in its budding life. Never judge a book by its first two chapters, as they don’t say. Supergirl only took a handful of episodes to relax and become a tepid and unsatisfying experience from then on.
It made all the wrong choices. Instead of focusing on the strengths of the first uneven season, it fell sick.
The tangible and relatable relationship between Alex and Kara gave way to warring narratives that failed to grab the attention as well as its predecessor. Alex was now rotting away in a whirlpool of romantic melodrama with Maggie Sawyer, which whilst important for the bisexual audience, dampened the weekly tension and stumbled rather than flowed. Kara was now teaching and mentoring Mon-El, a character that appeared tagged on as the showrunners looked to live up to season one’s cliff-hanger. Everything felt hollow and produced. Artificial.
The biggest problem, however, came with Jimmy and Winn. Winn, one of the highlights of the first season, was once again blasted into the background as other less interesting and intriguing characters were given importance. Winn resolved to be nothing other than comedic relief and, despite being a thoroughly smart guy, indulged the show’s incredible stupidity.
I swore, quite viscously, that I would never allow another Laurel-pocalypse. I would never allow a show to transform one character into another with the bat of a lazy eye. Arrow transformed Laurel from a whiny and drunken District Attorney into a crime-fighting vigilante like it didn’t mean a damn thing. It should never have happened again. Then Jimmy Olsen up and decided that he wanted to be a superhero.
The funny thing here is that it was completely avoidable. Supergirl’s second season had managed to massage events to move Jimmy Olsen into a meaningful narrative position. He was no longer the photographer stuck in limbo. He was the Cat Co News Editor and the show was giving him purpose. Everything seemed fine and dandy. I’m afraid not.
The show became far too greedy. Jimmy became greedy. He wanted to be a superhero as well, which is a larger issue with the CW universe but that discussion is for another day. With one line detailing his black belt and a terrible suit, Jimmy became Guardian and he defeated a monster Supergirl could not. And in that moment, in that small moment, I checked out and decided this show was never going to be for me.
The show will, in its future, give its audience moments of fun and episodes of true enjoyment but if the framework is cracked and never to be fixed. I’m afraid that’s where Supergirl feels the same fate as Gotham: a swift and unapologetic goodbye.
The only episodes of Supergirl that will draw this particular viewer anymore are the crossovers, which will undoubtedly feel more like Superman coming to town. As for the rest of the show? I’m afraid it doesn’t draw attention anymore.
Goodbye Supergirl, you flew too close to the sun.