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Supergirl: The end of an era!

The Girl of Steel hangs up her cape!

The TV show Supergirl, based off the DC character with the same name, will be ending after its sixth season in 2021. The show has developed a passionate fanbase that will no doubt be upset that it is coming to an end. In light of the news of the show's cancellation, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss a few points about it and what it meant to people.

For those who don’t already know, Supergirl aka Kara Zor-El/Kara Danvers, is the cousin of Superman. She was a teenager when Krypton exploded and like her baby cousin, was sent into space by her parents. However, she became trapped in the Phantom Zone and only arrived on Earth when Superman was already grown up. She was then adopted into the Danvers family and eventually decided to follow in her cousin’s footsteps and become Supergirl, hero of National City! The show follows her from the beginning of her superhero career, which she has to juggle alongside her secret identity and career at CatCo Worldwide Media. Admittedly, it took me a while to truly get into the show, but the first season definitely had its moments of merit. Superman is mentioned from time to time, but the show makes it clear that Kara wants to strike out on her own. Melissa Benoist, who plays Supergirl, has many opportunities to show off her acting range such as when Kara’s personality is affected by red kryptonite, or when she has to deal with the fact that her Aunt Astra is still alive. Her supporting cast is also quickly identified as being pivotal to plot points without overshadowing Kara’s character. James Olsen is initially shown as Kara’s potential love interest but his desire to pursue the truth provides him with a greater stake in the story. Winn Schott is one of Kara’s best friends and is shown to support her from the very beginning of her superhero career. He develops into a character who offers more to her cause than just occasional comic relief. J’onn J’onnz (The Martian Manhunter), who is undercover as Hank Henshaw, the director of the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations), accepts Kara as if she was his own daughter and continually provides guidance whenever she needs it. Finally, we have Alex, Kara’s adoptive sister. This relationship proves to be perhaps the most essential in the entire series. Alex is an agent of the DEO and so gets to work with Kara on her missions. Her character is allowed the chance to prove that her relevance to the story extends beyond her relation to Supergirl as she utilises her impressive intelligence and skills to solve a lot of the problems that comes her way.

Aside from the characters themselves, a big talking point about the show is the themes that they tackle. As Supergirl is an alien and many aliens are soon shown to move to Earth, the show deals with the concept of immigration and the idea of humans and aliens one day co-existing in peace. A far right group spearheaded by Ben Locke aka Agent of Liberty, expresses their disdain that the human race is being threatened by the existence of extra-terrestrials. It goes without saying that this sentiment reflects the thinking behind many real life political groups and ideologies. Supergirl proves to be a champion of the underdog, representing the journey of a lonely immigrant who becomes accepted into society. However, xenophobia is not the only adversary of acceptance that the show deals with. Sexuality is also addressed as Alex comes to the realisation that she is a lesbian. Her coming out story has proven amongst the fans of the show to be an extremely inspirational and well handled plotline. Supergirl continued to highlight diversity by introducing Nia Nal aka Dreamer, TV’s first transsexual superhero played by a transsexual actress. We watch her character grow more confident in both the use of her powers and her career at CatCo alongside Kara. The sum total of these themes is a show that demonstrates a clear message of acceptance, pride and inspiration.

However, some people have made the argument that these exact themes have turned people away from the show, and may even have contributed to the show being brought to an end. There are fans who believe that the show is too heavy handed with its political messaging. They simply wish to tune in week after week to a programme about a superhero’s exploits and not be bombarded with political correctness. Naturally, as Supergirl is a woman, there are strong elements of female empowerment throughout the show, whether that’s in her personal or professional life. While this has generally received positive reception, some have argued that it hasn’t strictly been necessary in order to tell her story. I personally believe that sometimes the show can be ‘in your face’ and come across as preachy with the messages they try to put across but that doesn’t change the fact that these issues do need to be addressed. I am a firm believer in highlighting diversity but I believe that can be achieved subtly. It is possible to have characters from different orientations/backgrounds without constantly needing to remind the audience of that fact. Another issue that fans have taken with the show is the way they have handled Kara’s relationships, specifically with her best friend, Lena Luthor. Neither character on the show has ever shown themselves to be interested in members of the same sex and yet fans were quick to take note of the chemistry between them, citing that it extends beyond mere friendship. People have firmly and passionately believed that the show has positioned these two characters to have romantic feelings for each other and that they should eventually become a couple. However, as the producers of the show continue to keep them as just friends, the disgruntled fans have accused them of ‘queerbaiting’ in order to continually attract fans. I would have no problem with the two of them becoming a couple, even if it is for one final season, as long as it is handled correctly and shown to be a natural progression between the pair.

And so you’re probably wondering why I thought it was necessary to bring up all these points. The reason is that despite any ups and downs the show may have had, or any declines in ratings/viewership, Supergirl remains to be fun, engaging and inspiring. I truly believe that its success gave the CW network the confidence it needed to also make a Batwoman show. In a world where there is so much darkness, both fictional and otherwise, it is refreshing to have a show that provides so much brightness. I will miss the show when it ends and I hope the final season gives it the justice it deserves. There will always be a need for a show like Supergirl!

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