Mindy Newell: DEATH OF A SUPERGIRL?
I don’t know what the hell goes on in the minds of the CBS suits, or why the hell they are dragging their heels about Supergirl’s future.
But it doesn’t look good.
Monday night at 8:00 I turned the television on to CBS, only to see that Big Bang Theory was on for the entire hour. This isn’t the first time the network has done this; so have other networks for other shows, and it’s almost always a sign that the show is struggling for life, that its ratings are not satisfactory enough for the suits to keep the show on the air.
CBS is not a network noted for niche or cult programming, or a network geared towards the “coveted” 18-34 slice of the Nielsen ratings. Their programming has been dominated by police procedurals (NCIS and its many spin-offs) and soapy dramas masquerading as law procedurals (The Good Wife, Madame Secretary), and reality shows (The Amazing Race, Survivor) with sitcoms eating up the rest of the airtime. And the sitcoms are pretty standard fare; Big Bang is—im-not-so-ho—an outlier on their schedule. I really don’t know how that series ended up on CBS, it’s so out of the box for them.
Buffy, The X-Files, Twin Peaks, Star Trek, The Walking Dead, The Sopranos were all the “little shows that could.” All started out incredibly low in the ratings—Buffy lost out to Seventh Heaven initially, and only showed up as a truncated mid-season replacement its first year—but slowly became powerhouses through word-of-mouth. But the networks to which they belonged all gave them a chance. It may have been because there was nothing to replace them with; it may have been, like Star Trek, because of massive fan letter campaigns in that pre-internet dark age which in 2016 would equal or surpass the number of e-mails on Hillary’s private server. Or, and I think this is the most important reason these shows stuck around to gain fan-atic followings, it may have been because there was at least one executive who championed it, who really believed in it. I just haven’t read or seen that happening at CBS. Rather, I think they simply wanted to jump on the bandwagon of the CW’s Arrow and Flash, and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There was no one who really loved Supergirl for herself and the show’s potential.
I admit, I was not all that happy with Supergirl when it first premiered. (You can check out my initial complaints here.) But followers of this column know that I have slowly been changing my mind, and I’m here to say—in-my-no-so-ho—that the second half of the series has really started to come into its own.
For too long a time the supporting characters—Hank Henshaw/J’onn J’onzz, Alex Danvers, Cat Grant, even Max Lord, Winn Schott, Jimmy Olsen, and Lucy Lane—were developing and growing and becoming people we cared about. Meanwhile Kara Zor-el/Kara Danvers/Supergirl was stuck in Barbie doll land—and then sometime around the
Episode 13, “For the Girl Who Has Everything,”—which I admit had some problems—the “doll” showed some cracks and wear and tear. And with Episode 16, “Falling,” when her Freudian moral super-ego becoming subordinate to her darker and selfish id, Kara Zor-el was a Barbie no more; like Pinocchio, she was no longer moving to a puppet master’s strings, always dancing and singing and play-acting, but suddenly self-aware. Was it ugly? Sure, but it was human, and suddenly the audience could identify with her.
As of April 4th, and with the success of the Supergirl/Flash crossover—which absolutely rocked!!!! (and which was a big flip of the bird to that other team-up currently gracing movie screens)—giving the show a much-needed ratings boost, the series is still in renewal limbo, although Les Moonves, CBS’s president, has said that “all freshman shows are likely to be renewed.”
Not much of an endorsement, is it?
Hey, Moonves, let the girl fly!