How Supergirl is disappointing its feminist fans
Superheroes are huge right now in primetime TV. We've fallen in love with series like Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, and we were totally excited to add a female caped crusader into the mix this fall with CBS' Supergirl.
Kara Zor-El's story was a chance for the entertainment industry to prove that shows about powerful women can succeed. Supergirl was supposed to be the perfect opportunity to showcase female strength, promote equality and illustrate that female lead characters don't have to be any different than male lead characters.
But instead of a superhero show that just happens to feature a woman instead of a man, we've been given a boring program that blatantly waves stereotypical feminist phrases in people's faces, simultaneously turning off both non-feminist and feminist viewers in one fell swoop.
For example, we've already witnessed Alex stand up to her boss with lines like, "Why, because she's just a girl?" and Cat Grant's utterance of "He he he. Him him him. I am so sick of hearing about the man of steel. Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as half as good."
In tonight's new episode, titled "Fight or Flight," the dialogue insults fans by rubbing their noses in hot-button phrases that echo contemporary movements like Ask Her More. Supergirl gets bent out of shape when Cat asks her if she "plans on starting a family" during an exclusive interview and quips back, "No one asks my cousin those questions." We're also given the gem, "She's not a consolation prize. She is every bit the hero he is; she just needs the chance to prove it."
It's not that these movements and phrases are not something to get behind; it just seems like the show is insulting fans' intelligence by spelling out the feminist theme instead of assuming they are smart enough to pick up on the female empowerment vibe.
And then there's the fact that there are the typical blatantly sexist themes sprinkled throughout the episode, as well — like when Cat wants all of the hostesses at her launch party dressed up in cute little Supergirl costumes.
We were also introduced to Reactron this week, a family-man-turned-monster who seeks revenge for Superman's transgressions. Yes, we have Aunt Astra as a female bad guy, so to speak, but why have all the weekly villains so far been gritty, scary men? Where are all the badass female convict villains? All of the escapees from Fort Rozz are from the same planet as Supergirl, so shouldn't there be more female aliens who have the same powers as Kara? If we're going for equal opportunity here, we need some girls for Supergirl to fight.
Furthermore, this week, Supergirl is continually being saved by men. Superman saves the day and Supergirl's life in one maneuver, and why does Jimmy constantly feel the need to save Kara, even though she's straight up told him that she feels completely belittled by his help?
Perhaps the most annoyingly sexist scene this week was at the end of the show when we met Lucy Lane for the first time. Kara has morphed into Supergirl and says she's ready to take on the world, but her crush's gorgeous ex shows up at her day job and suddenly she's reduced to tears? Snore.
Not to mention, the preview for the upcoming episode makes it look like the plot is solely based on Kara's love life — or lack thereof.
Supergirl wants us to believe that it's empowering women, but it's starting to seem like it's just trying to capitalize on the feminist movement happening right now. Hey, Hollywood, if you really want to make a feminist TV show, write a script for a man and then change all of the pronouns from "he" to "she." It's not that hard.