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"Supergirl" breaks through glass ceiling

by Sarah Morris - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 17th 2018 08:00 pm

“Real heroes don’t wear capes.” Chances are, you’ve heard that phrase several times in your life, especially as an impressionable child. They teach you to take your nose out of the book or your eyes off the television and that the real world is where you find your muses. But why can’t those with capes be our heroes?

In October of 2015, CW aired its first female-centered DC Comic Arrowverse television show, “Supergirl,” which follows the life of Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, also known as Kara Danvers. Portrayed by actress Melissa Benoist, Supergirl is one of the greatest TV role models in 2018, especially for younger girls who are constantly surrounded by male-driven superhero film franchises, such as “Justice League” and “Infinity War” (though Marvel promises women will eventually take over the MCU). Not only is it CW’s first female superhero television show, but it is the first female-led superhero show since Wonder Woman in 1979. So what makes the CW version of “Supergirl” different from other adaptations of the heroine’s story? Well for one, Kara herself is just as inspirational a person as her alter-ego. Despite being told constantly to suppress her powers to fit in, strong-willed Kara instead not only uses them to save others, but also takes advantage of her superhero status to advocate for other aliens that have come to earth to seek refuge from whatever planet they are from.

The “Supergirl” universe takes place on a different earth than the one “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Legends of Tomorrow” takes place (though thanks to the Flash’s speed, he is able to travel back and forth between earths … I don’t know). In this version of earth though, women are treated just as equally as men. The show revolves more around the female superhero perspective. At times, when Superman visits, he is even treated more as a side character, just like how Supergirl is normally treated in other adaptations. Almost all authoritative figures in the show are females, including the president of the United States.

In “Supergirl,” Kara works as a journalist at a magazine company in Starling City, and takes her job incredibly seriously. Her hard work and ambition eventually get her to reporter status and she gains the respect and support of many of her co-workers and friends as herself. Her career is just another thing that makes Kara a great character for television because it shows girls that women are just as capable as men to climb the ladder of success, and they should never let their ambitions be watered down by the misogynistic views that still linger in the American society. One of the other powerful women in the show is Cat Grant, Kara’s boss. Cat is her own version of a “Supergirl.” After the heroine’s alias is named, Kara (who Cat doesn’t know is Supergirl at first) asked why she didn’t name her Superwoman, saying that is makes her seem “guilty of being anti-feminist.”

Cat, who makes just as much of an impression on viewers as Supergirl herself, responds perfectly with, “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss. And powerful and rich and hot and smart. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent — isn’t the problem you?”

Though the show has a strong fanbase, men and women alike, “Supergirl” still receives backlash from its pro-feminist, pro-LGBT and pro-immigration philosophies. Andrew Kreisberg, one of the writers of the show, claims that they simply offer worldviews that are inclusive.  

“Is it political to say that we believe all people should be treated fairly, that people who are different from us deserve the same respect and rights and privileges we have?” Kreisberg asked.

“Supergirl” is the show we didn’t know we needed and though it is purely fiction, the empowerment of women (and aliens) in the show is inspirational. It is slowly but surely paving the way for other female-led superhero TV series and is hopefully one of many to come. 

Though this is the first superhero Arrowverse show with female heroine, CW has been great about creating a wide range of diverse casts in female-led television shows, such as “Jane the Virgin.” This is an extremely underrated show with a Latinx theme and its female lead, Jane, played by Gina Rodriguez, is another great role model for girls everywhere. Maybe in the future CW will continue to add more female dominated series.

 

@selizabeth_96

smorr11@u.brockport.edu

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