Friday, May 13, 2016

Three reasons why I love Supergirl

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
Here's a thing about being a writer that I daresay all my fellow writers can appreciate, and which readers may not know:

If you've got to work on your own creative output, this often means you don't have as much time for anybody else's.

You get behind on your reading, on going to movies, and on television shows. Particularly if you also have a full-time day job, or if you're also a parent needing to take care of children, or all of the above. In my case I've got the full-time day job, which means I spend a good bit of my evenings and weekends trying to muster enough brain to put words into manuscripts. So my available bandwidth for watching television is limited.

But every so often I'll make an exception. Historically my exceptions have been Doctor Who (albeit with a somewhat fractious relationship, last couple of seasons) and Castle (on which I've fallen significantly behind, enough that I'm still well over a season behind just in time for the show getting cancelled).

Much more recently, though, I've been delighted to jump on watching Supergirl. I haven't been able to watch it as it's aired, but I did buy a Season Pass to season 1, and have been actively working to catch up. And since the news went around yesterday that the show has been officially renewed, I wanted to talk a bit about why exactly this show has delighted me, how it ties in with what I like to read and write about, and why I'll definitely be on board for Season 2.

1. Supergirl demonstrates that superhero stories do not have to be so unremittingly dark.

I've been hugely disappointed with reports that the recent DC movies have been so grim and unpleasant. But thankfully, they're not extending that to their television properties. My household has very much appreciated the brighter, more upbeat tone of The Flash--and I've very, very much appreciated that Supergirl in particular is a burst of sunshine. There's action, serious plot threads, and high emotion, absolutely--but there's a difference between "intense action" and "a world so bleak and grim that it's decidedly unpleasant to watch".

Likewise, this is something I try to accomplish in my writing. At the end of the day, even if I put my characters through the wringer during the course of a plot, I want them to come out the other side with something to be hopeful about. I want there to be brightness in their world.

2. Supergirl shows us that having superpowers is pretty freggin' amazing.

I've seen more than one movie review and more than one pop culture article talk about "superhero fatigue". With that kind of a reaction out there, it's very easy to become jaded about "oh look yawn another superhero television show". One of the things I've really loved about this show, though, is how much simple, outright joy Kara has in her abilities. Ability to fly? Ability to catch bullets with your bare hands? Ability to shoot lasers out of your eyes? Awesome.

I mean honestly, does she look like she's having fun or what?


And even more importantly, Kara takes immense joy in being able to use her abilities to help others. Seeing how splendidly Melissa Benoist portrays Kara's emotional investment in her powers goes a long, long way to getting me emotionally invested in what she's doing with them.

When I write, whether it's my girl Kendis going holy crap I can do magic or Faanshi finding that for her, the correct course of action is to heal and protect rather than harm and kill, I try to give my characters a similar emotional investment. If I want my readers to have a sense of wonder about what I'm writing, my thought is, I need to have my characters have a sense of wonder about what they're experiencing, too.

3. Supergirl has multiple excellent female characters.

Quite a bit has already been written about how feminist a show Supergirl is. For me as a viewer, what establishes this is not only that it's a female-led show, but that it's also got so many excellent female characters in varying positions of power and with various types of relationships with each other. Kara has a beautiful relationship with her adoptive sister Alex, and an interesting, complex relationship with Cat Grant as well. (Sidebar: how very, very awesome is Cat? She gets all the very best lines.)

We also get interesting female supporting characters. Lucy Lane initially came in as romantic rival, sure--but I've very much appreciated how this season has given her more depth than that, showing us her relationship with James from her point of view as well as eventually resolving the triangle in a way that didn't demean her as a character. We've also gotten a good solid political figure in Senator Crane, who initially showed up on the "GRR ALIENS" bandwagon, but who turns out to be more sympathetic than that.

And of course there's also Alura, Kara's aunt, whose backstory with Kara plays off dramatically against her plans for the earth. Her presence in this plotline not only sets off conflict for Kara herself, but also conflict between Kara and the rest of the cast.

Plus, it has not escaped my notice that this show puts multiple female characters into positions of power. Kara and Cat are the two main obvious power players, Kara with her actual superpowers and Cat by virtue of being the splendid media power figure that she is. But Alex and Lucy both have their shots at leading the DEO. The aforementioned Senator Crane is another woman in a position of power, and Alura serves as the primary protagonist through much of the season. Additionally, we get a couple of fun supervillains in Livewire and Silver Banshee.

And if all of that weren't enough, I've also seen some very tasty talk about the show courting Lynda Carter to play the President in Season 2. President Wonder Woman, you guys. <3 She'd certainly get my vote.

Why is this important to me? Because I am a woman--and because we're still living in a world where women have to fight to defend their place in the SF/F genre in general and in superhero stories in particular.

In my own writing, I try for having a similar breadth of female character representation--and yeah, I'm prone to putting women in positions of power as well. There are reasons that the major magical power figures in the Free Court books, the Warder First of Seattle and the Queens of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, are female. Likewise, the major magic users and the major political power figures in the Rebels books are women.

And in closing...

I could say a lot more about why I've loved this show to bits so far, and why I'll definitely be on board for Season 2, even as the show moves over to the CW and to filming in Vancouver. Suffice to say, though, it's just been a joy to see a story that not only tries to go to places I do myself as a writer--but which also is a sheer pleasure to experience.

And c'mon, how can I not love a girl who loves ice cream?

OMG ICE CREAM!!!!
How about you? Are you watching Supergirl? Are you on board for Season 2? Talk to me in the comments!

--
Angela writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series as Angela Korra'ti, and the Rebels of Adalonia high fantasy trilogy as Angela Highland. Come say hi to her at angelahighland.com, or on Facebook or Twitter!

6 comments:

  1. I had been wondering about this show, now I am super (ha, ha) excited to see it!

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    1. My wife and I have both had great fun watching it. :) And something else I'll mention that I didn't put into the post--I've been very happy to see that the various emotional conflicts over the course of the season have not been drawn out to annoying extremes. They aren't allowed to fester. And the characters actually freggin' talk to one another about them and resolve things between them.

      THANK YOU SHOW WRITERS for characters that actually Use Their Words. <3

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  2. We've been watching Supergirl as a family--and I love that I can watch a show about a female superhero with my young daughter and be able to assure her that all will come out right by the end.

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    1. If I had a little girl I'd be very pleased to watch this show with her. :)

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  4. I love Supergirl for every reason you've listed. :) Go Supergirl, go!

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