Martha Thomases: It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Girl!
My editor suggested, if I was having trouble coming up with ideas about what to write, that I note that the new CBS prime-time show, Supergirl, will air at eight o’clock Eastern time on Mondays when it starts this fall… up against Gotham on Fox.
The assumption, when he mentioned this to me last week, was that Supergirl would have trouble against the adventures of Bruce Wayne as a boy, since the Batman character has a known success across several media for more than fifty years. Kara Zor-El, on the other hand, starred in one lousy movie and guested on a season of Smallville.
And then, this happened. Pitch Perfect 2 beat Mad Max: Fury Road for highest grossing opening box office this weekend. By a lot.
“Well,” you say (you being my rhetorical projection), “that’s really irrelevant, because movies are different from television.” This is true.
“And anyway,” you continue, “women don’t like superheroes, so who will watch the show?”
You, my rhetorical projection, are wrong. Women watch the current crop of superhero shows in large numbers. They also watch shows in related genres, including fantasy (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, for example) and horror (like Supernatural and iZombie).
I’m really psyched because, as you know, I’m a long-time Supergirl fan. I have enjoyed almost every incarnation of the character, including the one who had a flying horse that would turn into a cute guy when the occasion required. This new television version seems to owe a bit too much to The Devil Wears Prada, at least in the trailer, but it is my hope that, as the writers get comfortable with the material they’ll find a more unique take on the characters. It’s what happened in other 0808-produced shows, including Arrow and The Flash.
They should also stop being self-conscious about the character being named “Supergirl.” Yes, it’s kind of anachronistic, so I guess they have to address it. However, the explanation in the trailer has Kara’s horrible boss explaining that “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 real problem you?’”
I don’t know. Why don’t you ask the black James (Jimmy) Olson how excellent it feels to be called a “boy?”
Let’s face it. “Supergirl” has the same number of syllables as “Superman.” It scans a little bit better. We’re used to it. There are other characters already named “Superwoman,” and they are not Kara Zor-El.
In any case, we’re finally getting a prime-time show dedicated to a female adventure hero. From the trailer, it doesn’t seem as if her love life is going to be her defining reason for being. I expect there will be romances (as there are on Flash, Arrow, Gotham and, let’s face it, every nighttime drama), but there will be existential crises, and action and explosions.
Hollywood has a real problem with diversity issues, especially as they relate to women (and especially especially women of color). There are non-feminist women who think this isn’t a problem, but I can only presume they have rich husbands or fathers, or they’re being paid by rich men to defend the status quo.
Two of the five Supergirl producers mentioned on IMDB.com for this series are women. Here’s hoping that’s a good sign.
Will Supergirl be able to hold its own in the ratings against Gotham? I have no idea. I’m never home on Mondays. i know which one I’ll watch on my DVR first.
Even if there is no flying horse.