Why do we need Supergirl? Why does the world need heroes? A hero is a symbol of hope and faith, which Superman has always symbolized. But what makes Supergirl different? In a television world filled with superhero adapted programming, what makes CBS’s Supergirl worth our time? Why is this blonde alien so important? Her Humanity.
After watching the extended trailer and the pilot, I was reminded of how this character has positively influenced my life. Supergirl symbolizes humanity and how everyone deserves to be viewed as a human, which is an important message because in the world we live in today, not everyone is treated like they are human. Humanity is bestowed not by someone else but by one’s own self through the decisions they make and actions they perform towards others. Kara has taught me that being a human individual does not just involve myself and that others can also help you find your own way. Anything I can do for myself is something that I can do for others and it is ok to let others do things to help me when I need support. CBS’s Kara Zor-El shows that when I make mistakes, faith in myself and also in others is important to allow me to fly back up to be the best version of myself.
Supergirl has experienced a lot of transformations from when she was first introduced in 1959 in Action Comics as a meek and compliant young Kryptonian heroine. Kara is now a strong character, capable of incredible feats. Her transformation has shown me how people change throughout life and how throughout life there can be many different versions of us that have parts that we keep and parts that we let go. As humans, we are first introduced to the world and we need guidance and support. Kara experienced this when she first arrived on earth but now she is a competent and experienced individual, a wonderful role model loved by female and male readers alike. People have been complaining that the show has completely changed the character but I saw many different aspects of her different versions, which I think creates the hero that will be great to have on our television screens.
The “Human” Kryptonian
Criticism of the new show have been that it is “too much like a chick-flick” or that it is only here to push feminist extremes. The show is not “The Devil Wears A Cape” nor is it “Miss Conkryptoniality.” The chick-flick/office aspect is only a small portion and actually does more to develop her character arch than you would think. There are many other scenes that present what this show is all about. We have comedy, action, tragedy, etc and it feels tonally consistent thanks to Melissa Benoist’s endearing portrayal. I encourage everyone to try to view the story as a purely human story, which might allow more people to receive what I got out of it. As people, it is natural to want to label things, which may explain why people are marking the series as “feminist” or “chick-flick.” Maybe the label that needs to be placed on the series is “human.” Everyone should be able to connect with this label because humanity is what unites us in this world.
In the pilot, we see that Supergirl is a foreign alien from another planet but her story couldn’t possibly be more of this world. Her dedication to Earth and her family and friends ground her to the human experience and what she experiences and feels will show the viewers just how similar she is to us. Her desire to be something more and to make a difference indicates her motivation, her love and sorrow for her mother shows her emotion, and her mistakes let us see her flaws. All of these things are basics of the human experience. Even though she is an alien she proves that the reason why she wants to help humanity is because she is a part of it.
Kara is portrayed as quirky and sweet. The viewers see her humanity immediately and that she cares about everyone even the people she does not know, demonstrated when she expresses concern for employees for the newspaper “The Tribune” that successful businesswoman Cat Grant wants to lay off. Though Kara is a “lettuce wrap” grabbing assistant to Ms. Grant, she is not afraid to speak her mind as we see when she confronts Grant about “#Supergirl,” as she wants her heroic counterpart to be seen in the best light possible. Continuing with her feisty side, seeing Kara fight the super-powered villain presents us with her badass side where we see that she is not afraid to throw a punch to those who deserve it. Ultimately, Kara is not only quirky but strong, determined, kind, compassionate, and so much more that we have yet to see. The choice to have Kara’s personality be so well rounded is immensely successful because we are not presented with a one-sided stereotype character. There are many parts to Kara’s character, which should allow everyone to be able to relate to at least one.
Apart from the exciting action and impressive effects, the aspect I loved most about the first episode is seeing her interactions with the other actually human characters because I believe that the exchanges bring to light key points of her “human” arch throughout the episode.
In the pilot, James “Jimmy” Olsen saves her from being fired and she is scolding him for swooping in and that she can “fight her own battles,” the ax wielding Vartox challenges her and she flies off to fight him. I believe that her lower status as an assistant combined with her drive to fight villains shows us that it is all right to need help in some aspects of life because in others you are the only one who will be able to do it. Supergirl is not an overcompensated feminist character; she is a regular girl with super abilities. She is a normal character. And in this case normal just means “human.” Kara is a normal woman who makes mistakes and needs help, but is capable of astounding things.
Another moment I enjoyed was Cat Grant telling Kara that the name “Supergirl” is not bad. Kara believes that it is degrading to the hero, but Cat believes that people who find the name demeaning are the ones with the problem. “Girl” is just a term and it is important to focus on the positive aspects of that term. In this moment of the episode, Kara learns that it is up to her to show what she wants “Supergirl” to represent. I resonate with this moment because I try to show the best part of myself because I want my name to have a positive meaning to the world around me. Like Kara, it is up to us as individuals to do things that make us the best versions of ourselves. The meaning of name “Supergirl” does not have to be changed, Kara just needs to show what the name really means. I think that Cat Grant will be a constant reminder throughout the series for Kara to put her best self forward.
Alex, Kara’s sister, is a great support and she is the one who truly sends Kara on her new heroic journey. Alex demonstrates her love for her sister throughout the episode but more importantly shows that she has faith in Kara and that Kara should become a hero. Alex explains that she has been protecting Kara by encouraging her to not use her powers, but now it is time for Kara to reveal her powers to the world and to use her abilities to help earth. Alex shows that she has faith that Kara does not need anyone to protect her from the villains from her past, but also shows that she will always be there if her sister needs help.
Criticism by fans has been that it is not going to be good because it is feminist, it is cheesy, Kara is not strong, it is aimed at teenaged girls, and it is like a chick-flick. Therefore, Supergirl is less-than it should be.
For my response, I’ll take this moment to channel Cat Grant.
What’s so bad about being a feminist, being cheesy, being like a chick-flick, having weakness, or being aimed at teenage girls? Feminism means that every gender is treated equally and that they have the same possibilities in life. The “cheesiness” conveys an important and valuable cliché to “accept your self.” I can think of many chick-flicks that have a positive and deep message like having faith in yourself and acceptance of others (Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality.) Kara’s weaknesses give her strong and interesting character development by increasing her motivation to grow. And lastly, the show is aiming at teenage girls with a positive superhero role model and if you do not relate to the teenage girl experience maybe you could learn more and open your mind by watching the show. So if you perceive these things as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?
Who knows if the show will last? But it has a great cast, impressive effects, a fresh perspective, and I feel that it has a great message that is not condescending or specific to a particular minority so I would love to see where it goes. Ultimately, CBS’s Supergirl is a show that tells us that no matter who you are or what mistakes you’ve made humanity can exist within you by accepting yourself and others by knowing that anything that you do for yourself you can do for others. Accept and forgive your own and others’ mistakes. Help others and let others help you. Have faith in yourself and in others as people can surprise you and build you up. We need Supergirl to teach us and inspire us to be different and special. But being an individual does not mean we are alone, it just means that we are extraordinary along with everyone else.