TV Review: Supergirl Season 1

Lucifer as an Example of a Good Love Triangle (3)

The first season of Supergirl came to an end on Monday, so I’m back to share my thoughts on how I thought it went and how I think it could improve. There will be spoilers, so if you aren’t caught up, keep that in mind. Anyway, here we go…

Melissa Benoist

Benoist was a great choice to play the lead in this series. I wasn’t really familiar with her before this, and though she obviously looks the part, it was great that she also plays the role really well. I thought she did a great job of being earnest without being cheesy and with injecting the right amount of awkward humor into the role, especially in instances when the character is supposed to be flustered.

I also really enjoyed the episode where she became “Bad Supergirl” after being mentally affected by Red Kryptonite, a weapon created by billionaire genius Max Lord in an attempt to defeat other Kryptonians. It was nice to be able to see her utilize her acting range a bit and do something out of character. I’m hoping we can get some more instances like this in the future.

Calista Flockhart

Flockhart, in her role as Cat Grant, is probably the best part of this show. While DC shows The Flash and Arrow have used their veteran actors to add gravitas to the show, Flockhart actually brings the humor element. She does serve as Supergirl’s mentor, in a way, but her off-hand comments about various celebrities and her “mean boss” attitude add such great flair to the show.

Winn and Jimmy Olsen

You may have noticed that I switched from actor names to character names, and that’s because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the actors who play these roles. However, I don’t think the writing for these characters is all that great, at least in terms of their plot arcs.

Winn, for example, is largely defined by his crush on Kara during the first half of the season. Then, after he confesses his love to her and she turns him down, he’s mopey for a couple of episodes before deciding to become her friend again. I feel like there was opportunity here to add more drama by putting either him or Kara at risk and then having that be the catalyst for their reunion. But instead it’s just a strange minor plot point, and afterward Winn doesn’t really show any unresolved feelings towards her or any issues of jealousy, which felt somewhat inauthentic to me.

Then there’s Jimmy Olsen, who sort of falls into the trap I wrote about in my DC love interests article (though not as badly). He is the romance option for Kara and proves to have some useful qualities in terms of his connections. For example, he knows where the Fortress of Solitude is, and at one point he does use his “investigative journaling skills” to help by breaking into one of Max Lord’s facilities. But overall he just doesn’t consistently bring a lot to the table, outside of maybe being Kara’s morale center, though Cat Grant does this as well. Winn at least is a hacker, so he’s always useful in any given “villain of the week” scenario.

I’d say honestly these two characters are consistently the weakest on the show, and I hope the writers can do more with them moving forward. I’ll be curious to see what their plot arcs hold in the second season, and hopefully they both get juicier scenes and arcs.

Inconsistent Writing In General

I think it took Supergirl a few episodes to gain its footing. I thought the pilot wasn’t too great. It was good enough that I was willing to keep watching, but there was a lot jammed into it, and it felt bloated with too much going on. Honestly, I had the same issues with the finale episode as well. There’s a lot jammed in there, and things that could’ve been epic get glossed over or resolved very quickly.

As I mentioned in the above section, some of the plot arcs given to the characters aren’t always that great. I found a lot of situations throughout the season resolved too quickly. Perhaps the best example of this was evil Kara being quickly forgiven for her mini-rampage through National City in the very next episode. I think having the public turned against Supergirl was an interesting development, and more could’ve been done with it.

Again, I hope the writers can improve in this area in the second season. I hope that they can expand on some of the plot arcs and really delve into the ones that are interesting, drawing them out a little longer. I know CBS is like the channel of procedurals, but I think giving some more ongoing series qualities to Supergirl would strengthen it.

Superman

I know Supergirl probably doesn’t have the rights to actually include Superman…but I don’t think they’ve found an elegant way to skirt around that issue. Mostly Clark just texts Kara, but the two times he doesn’t appear on screen, really. The first time Kara passes out as he arrives, so we only see his silhouette. The second time is during the finale arc where he gets mind controlled by the villain, so he just turns into a drone. Then afterward he is knocked out and can’t participate in the final battle.

The writers will have to find a better way of getting around not being able to outright include Superman. It’s a really awkward element of the show and detracts from all the other cool stuff going on.

DAT FLASH CROSSOVER THO

The Flash and Supergirl crossover episode was pretty awesome. It also comes during a year where the two biggest superhero films involve a lot of infighting between major franchise characters. This was the fun sort of team-up effort to combat that. It was fun in all the right ways, and I hope that we get to see more crossover events with other DC TV heroes in the future.

I actually think that a Kara-Oliver team-up would be really interesting, especially since Arrow is generally a darker show. That crossover might have the same sort of tension that the classic Batman and Superman team-ups have, which could be really great, if done well.

Message of Hope

Speaking of Batman and Superman team-ups… I haven’t actually seen Batman vs Superman, but I understand that in Zack Snyder’s version of the DC world everyone is just super violent and likes to destroy things. But this is where I think the Supergirl writers got it absolutely right. Supergirl is all about hope, it is all about striving to be better, it is all about doing the right thing even when it’s more difficult. It captures the true essence of a Superman story. So if you’re missing that from the recent films, I definitely think you should check this show out.

Overall

I really enjoy Supergirl, and despite its flaws, I think it has a lot of potential to improve. The team of actors they’ve assembled is quite good, and I enjoy the lighthearted tone of the show as well. I admit that when I saw the first trailer I was super skeptical, but after watching the show I’m on board for more.

I hope that Supergirl does get renewed for a second season (it’s not official yet, though the chatter seems to indicate it will happen), and I also hope that it ups its game and comes together with some more compelling writing. I’m definitely excited to see where it goes.

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