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TV Show Review: Supergirl (2015)

Updated on November 15, 2015
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With the superhero genre being hotter than sunburn at the moment, movies have received so much publicity, but both DC and Marvel have been rocking the TV world. Marvel has Daredevil and Agents of SHIELD, with Jessica Jones on the way. DC has been putting on solid products with Arrow and The Flash. So once again DC is throwing its hat into the ring with Supergirl.

Supergirl is Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El. Like her cousin, Kara was sent to earth during the destruction of Krypton. On Earth, she takes a job for a major magazine in National City. She has kept her identity secret, but when problems start rising up, she decides it is time to act and don the cape to become Supergirl. Supergirl has all of Superman's powers - super strength, flight, heat vision, whathaveyou. Her powers become particularly necessary when villains from Krypton find their way to Earth. She reveals her identity to a few friends and confides in a group of government scientists while she gets used to using her powers.

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Many of these superhero shows have an identity outside of the superhero element. Daredevil takes after gritty crime dramas. The Flash mixes in elements of cop dramas and teen dramas. Super girl seems to take after shows like Just Shoot Me. And that is not a compliment. Much of the series feels like a dated 90's sitcom. At her day job, Kara is a single career woman working for a magazine with a quirky, overbearing boss. The pilot featured less-than-groundbreaking scenes such as Kara going on a lousy blind date and someone asking her if she is gay when she reveals her secret identity. Moments like these make the show feel like it is missing a laugh track and the Seinfeld music.

Supergirl unfortunately seems to ride the coattails of a lot of other shows... Ironic because one of the running themes is how Kara does not want to live in the shadow of her more famous cousin. For a show about someone who does not want to be second banana to the Last Son of Krypton, the fact sure comes up a lot. I would recommend making a drinking game of how many times Kara talks about Superman, or how she does not want to live in the shadow of someone else, but I can not condone anything that might lead to alcohol poisoning. Without Superman's actual presence, this comes off as extremely sanctimonious. I understand the whole female empowerment thing, but this is the sort of thing that might hurt the cause more than help: Just let Supergirl be strong and allow her actions to speak for themselves.

In the first season, Supergirl is getting used to her powers, but she is getting assistance from a government agency. On the surface, giving Supergirl a team of specialists to help her kind of makes sense. After all she is using her powers for the first time and may need some guidance. However, it is irksome because it feels like the people behind the scenes are trying to ride Arrow and the Flash's coat tails. Look, I DESPISE playing the rip-off card, but this is the THIRD SHOW where a superhero has a team of scientists helping them. Arrow having a team of specialists made sense. The Flash felt like it was treading familiar ground, but the third time is not the charm for Supergirl - especially since Supergirl feels like the last one who would need it. The bandwagon feeling is not helped by the fact that - once again - there is an opening monologue where the lead character explains the origin story.

Admittedly, I know little about Supergirl comics so I can not verify if these things are accurate to the source material. However, I know little about the Flash and Green Arrow comics, and I enjoy those shows. Besides, the show has been making changes. Instead of the "gee-golly" wimp he has been known for, Jimmy Olson is now James Olson, a suave black man. This change does in fact work in the show's favor. So if they are making changes from the source material, it is fair to expect them to make changes for the better.

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For all of these problems, there are things to enjoy about Supergirl. First of all, the eponymous character is a likable protagonist. Even if there are times where she feels as though she belongs in an entirely different show, her goofball personality is an entertaining counterbalance to her heroic persona. She has a joy of discovery for her powers and enthusiasm for being a hero. Granted, much of her personality feels a little canned and cloying, she is enjoyable in her own way. Her rogues gallery of former Kryptonians are colorful enough to be spice up the show.

Another positive is that action scenes deliver on the thrills. The show creators cut no corners and show off all of Supergirl's powers and abilities, creating some of the more spectacular action scenes on any superhero show. These scenes - as well as many others - are highlighted by a cinematic score - a score so good that it rivals what you may hear in movies. While a score may not seem like the sort of thing that would make a show good or bad, the music does help elevate the show into having a grandiose tone, making episodes feel like an event. So technically, the show does deliver on what people will most likely be watching for.


So, that is Supergirl - warts and all. Is it good? Is it bad? Well, the show has enough good points that I recommend at least giving it a shot. However, I personally could not get over the flaws to make a full commitment. Supergirl borrows a few too many pages from Arrow and The Flash. The temptation is to say if you have not seen those shows, you might enjoy this a little more. However, if you really have not seen The Flash or Arrow, either one of those will be a more rewarding experience.

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