When it comes to hit TV shows, I’ll be the first to admit I’m a late bloomer. Just a few months ago, I finally finished watching Felicity, a brilliant coming-of-age drama that saw its heyday almost two decades ago. As if that’s not proof enough, I’m about three seasons behind on HBO’s Girls and am currently working my way through the fourth season (out of six) of both Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey. (No spoilers, please.)
But there is one new show on everyone’s radar that I’ve actually kept up with, and it’s not because the writing is impeccable or the acting top-notch. I bet you can guess which one I’m referring to. As you might be well aware (or maybe not), Supergirl just concluded its first season last week, and the jury is still out if it will be renewed for a second. But good golly, I’m crossing my fingers. The world hasn’t seen enough of her yet.
The script definitely has its flaws (honestly, a list long enough to warrant its own post) and the plot may not always keep me on the edge of my seat, but I can still say with absolute pride that I love watching CBS’s new action-adventure series. My husband and I both, actually. We tune in every week, a bowl of buttered popcorn snuggled in between us. And although I can’t speak for him, the main reason for my current obsession is simple: Supergirl—also known as Kara Danvers, Superman’s long-lost female cousin—is everything I hoped she would be.
Now, before I start my gushing, I’ll just let you know that I’ve read the reviews. I’ve heard the rather popular argument from many a critic that Supergirl’s overtly feminist message is coming across as, well, anti-feminist. And while I agree that the writers could lay off justifying Supergirl’s femininity every five seconds—you really shouldn’t have to remind women (or men, for that matter) that it’s a pretty cool thing to be a woman—I’m going to put all of that aside for the sake of my argument.
Which is that, feminist or not, the main character is absolutely perfect in every way. In large part, because of her quirky imperfections. Forgive the cliché, and hear me out.
Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers/Supergirl is the most relatable superhero I’ve ever come across on the big or small screen. Yes, she can fly above the clouds, shoot flames from her eyes, and probably take over the world in one afternoon if she felt like it. But, as evidenced by the show, her superhuman strength doesn’t make her any less human. Unlike other popular portrayals of female superheroes and villains, Kara is not the uber-confident, over-sexualized, pristinely put-together woman that one might expect from an all-powerful goddess like herself.
Compare her to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, for example. From the first moment Diana Prince enters the scene at Lex Luthor’s party, she captures the attention of everyone around her (including Bruce Wayne) with her breathtaking beauty and mysterious demeanor. Diana oozes elegance and sophistication, is intelligent to boot, and always comes across as fearless—both in and out of combat. Oh, and did I mention she has impeccable style? (This dress though, y’all.) And while nothing about her character is explicitly sexual, there is definitely a level of seductiveness at play in her brief exchanges with Batman’s alter ego.
Is there anything wrong with this? Not at all. Gadot’s rendition of Wonder Woman is both mesmerizing to behold yet essentially untouchable. She’s flawless—undeniably the “perfect woman”—or so it seems, but you simply can’t get close enough to reveal otherwise. Perhaps we will see a different side of her in the Wonder Woman movie, coming out June 2017.
Kara Danvers, however, has her own unique set of flaws and weaknesses. (Kryptonite aside.) She’s new to the whole superhero thing, and she’s making it up as she goes—occasionally stuttering and stumbling along the way.
But that’s okay. Just because she can be vulnerable doesn’t mean she’s not a complete badass. And what’s even better is that she recognizes her badassery and embraces it every time she puts on the cape. But super or not, this 24-year-old bombshell doesn’t need a (sexy) uniform to shine.
The thing I adore most about this version of Supergirl is that she doesn’t see humility, kindness or compassion as weakness. She loves her sister more than anyone else in the world, and is quick to forgive Alex after discovering the secret that could have easily torn them apart. She works hard at a job (that she doesn’t need) for a boss she can’t stand, and actually makes it a point to learn a thing or two from the brutal Cat Grant. She’s not ashamed to ask her male friends for help every now and again, but she will do anything to keep them out of harm’s way. And even when she falls head-over-heels for one of them (hello, hunky James Olsen), Kara doesn’t let him make any of her decisions for her. She knows how to stick up for herself and stand her ground when it matters most.
As level-headed as Kara can be, she’s still capable of getting downright angry when the situation calls for it. Or simply laughing it off when there’s nothing else to be done. Whether she’s out saving lives or eating ice cream on her couch, Kara never takes herself too seriously—a refreshing quality that sets her apart from her complicated cousin.
The bottom line: Supergirl’s not afraid to be herself, even when all eyes are on her. She’s spunky. She’s nerdy. She’s fierce. She’s emotional. She’s unapologetically real (so to speak). And that’s what makes this girl worth watching.
Photo from Supergirl by Warner Bros. Television and CBS + GIFs via Giphy.