action comics superman supergirl

How to Fix Supergirl the TV Series

I do seem to like to talk about Supergirl. So hey, why not some more. And it gives me a reason to put up pretty pictures.

So Supergirl the TV series started on CBS, the network for senior citizens, then moved to CW, the network for fresh-faced teens. Went from Wheel of Fortune to Dawson’s Creek.

I watched the first season and the first five episodes of the second season. I wanted to get into it, I really did. But the characters stopped me. Don’t get me wrong — Melissa Benoist is a delight. She’s like Emilia Clarke — she’s charming as hell and I’d follow her, dragons and all. She’s the reason I kept watching as long as I did. It’s everyone else that sucks. They’re so milquetoast. We’ve got boring tech geek, boring heartthrob love interest, boring stiff military commander, boring sister who suddenly decided she was a lesbian at thirty years old, boring snippy Ally McBeal.

“Poor supporting” cast joke here

Actually, the best of the cast was Calista Flockhart. But even then, I couldn’t stand her bitchy character giving bitch-vice to Kara Danvers* in the form of not-mentorship. “Listen to me — I’m world-wise but everything is beneath me and everyone hates me. I’m female Donald Trump. You too could be like me if you follow my five simple steps.” In other words, none of these are people I would want to hang out with. I don’t want to let them into my home for an hour each week.

The other reason was because the life of a young woman moving from the country to the city to “make it” was just not interesting to me. For one thing, that’s Superman’s story. Like it’s the exact same thing, how to balance work (superheroing) and life. I’ve seen it. Add in uninteresting villains (Maxwell Lord is just Lex Luthor AGAIN. And Aunt Alura is just General Zod AGAIN — dress them up all you want, but at the end of the day, Lord is a rich genius CEO who thinks the hero is a threat and the other is a military commander escaped from the Phantom Zone).

Here’s my solution. Be more like Buffy.

The magic of Supergirl is not that she’s Superman in a skirt. It’s that she’s fresh off the boat. She’s a true alien. She doesn’t know what’s going on, what Earth culture is like. She’s been in a bubble for the last thirteen years, so it becomes like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, only more serious (and actually unbreakable). So you get moments like this…

It’d be a fine line to tread on the “Born Sexy Yesterday” tropes, but as long as Kara is living for herself, not some man, you can do it.

In the beginning of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy was trying to make her life normal while the abnormal kept treading in (thanks to the Hellmouth plot generator). There’s a call to heroism that she’s trying to ignore, but can’t (because as Spider-Man said, if you let bad things happen when you can do something about it, you’re no better).

Do the same thing here. Give Supergirl some equally downtrodden friends. Not a guy who’s got Superman in his cell phone. Not the army-man who can’t crack a smile and really a Martian warrior. She needs a Xander and a Willow. Her antagonists shouldn’t be her bosses, it should be a contemporary. An equal. The person she wants to be. Like Cordelia. And sure, throw in an Angel in there too. Why not? Who doesn’t like forbidden love? Sure, make him full of kryptonite. I don’t care.

Most of all, we need a mentor. Now Captain Obvious says that should be Superman. He’s the one who’s been here the longest, he knows how to handle his superpowers, and he was raised here, so he knows Earth customs. But that would be a hard sell. If Superman’s in the show… why not make the show ABOUT Superman? Plus the fact that Superman can do anything Supergirl can do, but better. And the fact that it’s actually HIM who needs something from Supergirl. She’s only one with knowledge of his planet, the only tie to his heritage. He needs her to teach him about where he came from.

Besides, does this not look like a set from Buffy? And they both were on the same network.

No, Supergirl needs a Giles. Someone who can educate her, but cannot do what she can do. I don’t know who that might be, since part of Supergirl’s character is that there’s no one else like her (save her cousin). J’onn J’onzz would be a good candidate, if you can loosen him up a bit. The problem is he’s so stiff, I want Supergirl to skip class and go to the mall. He becomes the antagonist, not the guru. Supergirl needs someone to serve a father-daughter relationship. That’s a conflict full of story and strength. And more fascinating than the mother-daughter relationship with Kat.

And it definitely SHOULD NOT be a mother-son thing, which is what I was seeing from the Mon-El thing when I left. They did it the total opposite what I wanted. No one wants to see SuperDouchebag hitting on girls or using his superpowers for selfish reasons while Young Kara Danvers tries to prevent his shenanigans. She shouldn’t be caretaking a twenty-year-old when she’s cultivating her own life.

So yeah, Supergirl. A great concept, but executed in a tired, uninspired way. Just like all the other DC superheroes became, like The Flash (which is just Spider-Man but got too hung up on the relationship, just like the movies) and Arrow (which is just Batman, but got too grimdark and too unrealistic).

Also, Streaky. Gotta put the cat in there. Who wouldn’t watch a show with a super-cat?

*I literally forgot what her secret identity name was for a moment, just like Calista Flockhart’s running gag in the show. Was it Kat? No, that was Flockhart’s character. Was it Laura? Lara? K-something. Kal-El? No, that’s Superman. Her last name was Danvers. Carol Danvers? No, that’s Ms. Marvel. I had to look it up on IMDB. Kara! I was close.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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