CBS just aired its final episode of Supergirl's first season, and with the question of renewal for a second season still up in the air, it might be the last we see of this incarnation of the Girl of Steel.
I've been a fan of the character since I was made aware of her existence after throwing a fit in front of my parents because I was so jealous of my brother for his similarities to Superman. When reminiscing with my family, my eloquent argument is often quoted back to me in between bouts of laughter: "I'm stronger than Zubba even though he has a wiener." Just to clarify, my brother's name is Isaiah and because I wanted my parents to name him "Tarzan", we, for some reason, settled on the nickname "Zubba", which (at the time) felt like a victory for me. Anyway, my dad let me know that I didn't have to look like Superman because Supergirl is just as strong. I spent the next year of my life living in the costume, correcting people who thought I was dressed like Superman by stomping my foot and yelling "DupaDuwl!" (I had an awful speech impediment as a child that made my 'Ss' sound like 'Ds' and rendered me unable to pronounce the letter 'R' at all).
...Moving on. I was obviously very excited when CBS announced they had a series in development, and although initially apprehensive about their casting of Melissa Benoist, was almost instantly won over when I saw the first promo shot. Regardless of if you like the show or not, Benoist definitely looks the part, especially in the suit.
So let's start there- with the good.
1. Melissa Benoist might be the most adorable human being on the planet. She's virtually impossible to dislike, and when your headliner is an audience favorite, it tends to help smooth over other glaring issues. Benoist is 5'8", which in Hollywood is rather tall for a woman, and comes complete with superhero abs and broad shoulders that make it easy for her to pull off the hands on hips "you shall not pass" stance.
2. The suit is awesome. One of my favorite moments from the show was in its first episode when she's experimenting with both her powers and costume and they look at some of the failed looks of past comic incarnations.
They went with something very close to her classic 1959 look, although unlike in the early comics, her skirt is red. They followed Zack Snyder and Henry Cavil's lead and muted the colors to update her for a modern audience. The baby blue and candy apple red would have been distracting.
3. Calysta Flockhart is perfect in her role. Since The Devil Wears Prada in 2006, there have been a lot of Miranda Priestly wannabes. In my opinion, Flockhart's Cat Grant is the most successful. Yes, she's often bogged down in ridiculous monologues, but Flockhart always delivers them with grace. Cat Grant is without a doubt the most intelligent character on the show and her supposed intellectual superiority often manifests itself in sarcastic pop culture references that never fail to make me laugh.
4. I enjoy the characterization. The inclusion of Lucy Lane (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) in the show helps to strengthen the cord between the worlds of Superman and Supergirl, and although she doesn't get much attention and the producers evidently missed the boat on the armed forces uniform policies pertaining to wearing their covers indoors....Dewan-Tatum makes the most of her opportunities. If there is a season 2, I'd like to see them try some version of the Superwoman story line.
Although the Jimmy Olsen casting (Mehcad Brooks) was initially met with criticism, the different take on the character (who in this world goes by "James") successfully balances the show. Their Kara is relatively insecure and by her own admission not all that "cool". "James" is a smart, talented and successful man who loves her despite (or because of) her quirks. And anyway, they included a nerdy sidekick as well in Jeremy Jordan's Winn Scott. Supergirl getting to rescue a traditionally masculine love-interest is refreshing and his appreciation for her strength is a great metaphor for the feminist message the show promotes.
To touch back on the Cat Grant character, although she's proud, stubborn and sometimes ridiculous, I like how she begrudgingly softens. Kara has a great line in the finale episode where she says "and underneath that prickly exterior, you have the biggest heart of anyone I know." Although Cat can't make eye contact with her in that moment, she accepts the compliment in her own way. Next to Kara, Cat is easily the most developed character on the show.
5. Martian Manhunter. I swear I started crying after his big reveal.
1. Despite my many compliments for Melissa Benoist, she's almost distractedly uncoordinated. I'm not sure if it's that she's not comfortable on the wires or what, but watching her fight is like watching a 6 year old try to hit a live pitch.
2. Chyler Leigh, who plays Kara's adoptive sister on the show, is a pretty terrible actress. I want to like her, I really do. Normally I root for any and all capable women, but I found myself at multiple points during the season wishing that they'd kill her off. To an extent, I like the relationship between the two sisters, but they play on that theme so hard that it becomes exhausting. My 11 year old sister, who I watch the show every week with, once said "Supergirl should have let that plane crash into the ocean in the first episode." My sister can be brutal, so Chyler, if you're reading this don't take it personally. My sister once asked if she could wear the tiara I got for coming in 3rd at a bodybuilding competition to school and I told her no, with tears in her eyes and anger in her voice she screamed "NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU!" and slammed the door in my face...but I digress.
3. The dialogue, especially between the heroes and villains, is painfully cheesy.
1. The confrontations are almost comically anti-climactic. They always have a very high stakes build up, like in the Flash crossover episode for example. They set up this epic showdown between The Flash/Supergirl and Banshee/Live Wire, but then (despite the oppositions power) spray them with a fire hose and end the fight instantly. The writers never allow for a moment to land. I won't share any spoilers from the finale episode, but they squandered an excellent opportunity for the people Kara loves to realize the significance of their relationship to her.
2. Supergirl is obviously working with a relatively low budget. The fights are poorly choreographed, poorly edited and the special effects- although significantly better than the practical ones- are pretty weak, considering the genre.
At the end of the day, I believe that Supergirl earned a second season. Despite its many pitfalls, I enjoyed watching it every week and thought it set an excellent example of what a hero can be for little girls everywhere. If it survives, I'd like to see the second season include a bigger budget and better writers. Regardless of if improvements are made, though, I feel like CBS owes us a second season after that cliffhanger.