Well, I've watched it twice already this week (and plan to watch it again once I'm done here), and I'm here to report that it is, in fact, very, very good! It's not perfect (and I'm a more than a little upset that "perfect" is even a goal here, to be honest), but it's great in so many ways. Here are my top three reasons for watching:
1. Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El (aka Kara Danvers)
She's flippin' adorable. Seriously, I have the hugest girl-crush on her right now. Her portrayal of Kara as a quirky but smart young woman might be a bit too Zooey Deschanel for some to stomach, but I think it brings a wonderful humaness to the role that is often missing from the typical "strong female character" trope we are sadly all too used to coming out of Hollywood. I don't know about you, but this Kara reminds me of many of the 20-something women I know. She's smart but a bit intimidated by the world, but she knows to her core she's got something special to share. She's just waiting for her opportunity. And her unbridled glee about saving her sister's plane is just so so so perfect. To see a woman on screen who is so happy about doing something awesome? That's what we've been crying out for for ages!
2. Her relationship with her sister Alex Danvers
It's so refreshing to see a super hero whose relationship with their siblings is healthy and supportive. Heck, it's nice to see two women on screen together who simply like each other. It might seem hackneyed to some, but the fact it's her sister's flight being sabotaged that motivates Kara to use her powers makes me so happy. It's not the potential loss of a love interest. It's not a means to show the world she's awesome. It's not a revenge thing. It's her deep and abiding love for her sister that pushes her to act.
I also love that Alex Danvers is herself a serious badass, working as a bio-engineer of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, where she gets to help Kara bring in the big bads. Or maybe it's Kara who's helping Alex. Either way, I love watching them work together. I love that they both got to rescue the other. And I love watching them be sisters together. (That hand-holding scene when Kara's watching her mother's message! Right in the feels!) I hope we get to see more sisterly bonding throughout the season.
3. F*** Yeah Feminist Feels
There were SOOO many great feminist moments in this first episode. When the truck stop waitress gushes about a female super hero saying, "It's nice for my daughter to have someone to look up to," I was in my seat nodding along. I've said it before. I hope Supergirl becomes for the young people today what Wonder Woman was to the girls of my generation. I hope I see a bunch of Supergirls at my door this Halloween and in the years to come.
When Kara sinks into the couch complaining that working for a female-led company hasn't been the feminist awakening she'd hoped for, she's not just telling us what she thinks about her boss, but what her own goals in life are. I can't help but think this is eerily similar to the feeling we all had when we realized that many of the women in positions of power continue to uphold the patriarchy. *sigh* I sincerely hope over the coming season we will see her challenge her boss a bit more, even if it's in the safety of her own home or James' office. Some might accuse Supergirl's feminism of being "too on the nose," but have you looked around lately? We need to be as blatantly feminist as possible sometimes.
And you know what else? I don't even care that it sometimes feels cheesy. I've been waiting for a cheesy female superhero show for 40 years. Forty years! There's a long history of Superman movies and television shows and the reason people love them is precisely because of the cheesy dialogue and the knowledge that no matter what, our hero will always be there to save the day. I know it's in vogue to make gritty, hyperrealistic television dramas featuring obscure superhero dudes. And, with Jessica Jones, we'll even have one about a woman. While I love many of those shows as well,
I mean, come on. You can't tell me you didn't sit up and give a feminist fist punch when you saw Kara rip open her shirt to reveal her super suit while running across the roof to leap off and go capture the bad guy!
Could Supergirl be better? Oh sure. I'd love to see more people of color with actual speaking roles. They can hold off on the relationship trope thing for a while, letting Kara and Winn be good friends without there needing to be romantic tension. I wouldn't mind there being a few more body types represented. Not everyone in National City is a size 6, right?
But you know what? At the end of the day, Supergirl doesn't have to be the perfect show. Kara Danvers doesn't have to be the end-all-be-all of female role models. She doesn't have to tick off all the feminist wishlist items all by herself. Give us more heroes to fill in the gaps, please!
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