There aren't a lot of shows on TV quite like Powerless. It's quirky, wacky, has cynicism wrapped in heart and most of all, it has a tongue-in-cheek perspective on a world full of superheroes and supervillains. It's a charming, alternative-perspective take on what is currently a very popular concept. While we're inundated with superpowered characters from the POV of our heroic leads, #Powerless is the first to take up the mantle from such a radically different angle.
But now, NBC has officially pulled the show from its schedule. Its remaining few episodes have been put on the back burner with no indication as to when they might air (if at all). While this is not an official indicator of cancellation, it's doubtless a step on the road toward what might be an inevitability. The show's ratings have been on the low end — generally steady, without ever really being great.
At the same time, it's hard not to feel like the show has barely been given a chance. It's only a few episodes old; a grand total of nine have aired to date. Even in this era, that's not really a lot. It has a lot of potential. History has shown us time and again that not everything great starts out that way.
There's So Much Potential
There are a lot of reasons why Powerless deserves another chance at life. One of them being the show's cast. There's a solid array, each of them confident in the basic premises of the show, the quirky tone and the overall charm of the concept (with special shoutout to Alan Tudyk's Van Wayne, who could just about hold up the series all on his own).
Beyond that, there's that certain humor. The tone for this first handful of episodes could be somewhat inconsistent, but no more so than many a sitcom just starting out. At its best, it had a certain joy to it, a snarky aside kind of approach to a world full of superheroes and how all that battle and destruction may cause so much grief and misery for bystanders, even with all world-saving going on.
The show cleverly managed to weave in a number of in-jokes and references to characters and events across the DC universe, even getting to use licensed, lesser-known heroes and villains for the task. From Emily finding out she's dating one of Riddler's henchman to lying to the people of Atlantis about Aquaman and making conversation about the traditional origins of supervillains, the writers were already laying groundwork for a lot of potential laugh-out-loud kind of material down the road.
The Genre Needs Something Fresh
It's this perspective that makes the show so endearing in its possibilities. There's no better time for a show like this than right now — while the Arrowverse slowly takes over the CW, the Defenders are a banner franchise for Netflix, and the MCU unleashes another film on the masses every six months. What better time to provide meta-commentary on the joys and lunacy of comic book-dom than a show like this?
Most of all, it's just that all-important reminder that not all things start great. Parks and Recreation had a notoriously weak opening season, yet it gradually developed into one of the best sitcoms ever made. The Simpsons took roughly three seasons to find its footing, and became a pop culture institution. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season was infamously rough from the get-go, but has now become one of the best comic book shows on TV. This is just to name a few.
A 'Powerless' Future?
We live in a Golden Age of Television, and while there are so many positives to that, this is one of the unfortunate negatives. Audiences and studio executives are much less likely to give underdogs a chance. It means that many an idea with solid potential is thwarted almost before it's even out of the gate. Imagine all the great television of the past we would've missed out on if this had always been the case.
So here's hoping that — in spite of all signs pointing otherwise — NBC does give Powerless another chance. It's earned it — from its premise, its cast and any number of great moments in the first few episodes — the show indicated it could consistently develop into something better. So many others shows have been given the same opportunity in the past, and we've all been so much better off for it.
Do you want to see NBC give Powerless another shot?