Talk About A Super Let-Down in Supergirl Season 2

A Super Let-Down in Season 2

It’s not like Supergirl started as a really good example of diverse representation.

Sure, its first season was female-focused and had some great moments focusing on Kara’s relationships with other women, but they’re basically all white women. From the titular character on down, the women of Supergirl are almost all thin, conventionally attractive, straight, and white[1] women of a certain age.

Black characters James Olsen and J’onn  J’onnz didn’t get the development that wanted them to have and both characters’ respective arcs weren’t as satisfying as you’d expect considering that James was basically the male lead for season one and J’onn is one of Kara’s father figures.

And, in the first season, there were no other recurring characters of color of any gender, no queer characters “on the page”, and no disabled characters showing up on a recurring basis.

So, I mean… I wasn’t exactly expecting the second season to do better.

Especially not once it was set to move to The CW.

And for the most part, it doesn’t do better in its second season.

Sure, Supergirl’s second season tries and there are some good moments and excellent new characters, but I maintain that not only does the show not do enough to be empowering for more women and girls, it takes several steps backward on the empowerment front.

I got into Supergirl because at first glance it was this super empowering, lady-centric show. Somehow, I forgot that Agent Carter was promoted in the same way and wound up being super white and super White Feminist.

Supergirl, like Jessica Jones and Wonder Woman, is called a win for women and for feminism, but it’s not exactly empowering for every girl and young woman due to the lack of significant and consistent representation.

The only female character that looks even remotely like my small niece is only in seven episodes of her favorite show. I’m pretty sure that M’gann is the only Black female character with a significant recurring role in the series.

Other little girls don’t even get that.

At first, lesbian cop Maggie Sawyer (lowkey responsible for Alex having her own lesbian awakening) seems like a great character because she’s covering representation bases that the show hadn’t before. Her relationship with Alex was one of the highlights of the season and I know that her appearances made many queer little girls feel comfortable about being themselves.

However, the fact that Maggie is played by an Italian actress despite the character calling herself “non-white” onscreen and being portrayed as a Latina kind of… makes it hard to enjoy the representation.

Then there’s the fact that the show straight up dropped the ball on the chance to cast a disabled actress as Lena Luthor and bring in some necessary disability rep for the show. Yes, Lena doesn’t use a wheelchair in every single one of her appearances in the comics, but considering that Supergirl is playing fast and loose with canon… They should’ve gone for an actress that uses a wheelchair in her day to day life.

And I guess I could be proud of James for becoming the Guardian, but I mean… the show’s second season also destroyed his romantic relationship with Kara and reduced him to a background character. Really, the second season wrote over  the very relationship that it spent most of the first season trying to build up.

And why?

So that Chris Wood’s Mon-El can sweep Kara off her feet because he gets her? (No for real, there was an interview where one of the producers said that they broke up Kara/James because they were literally too good together.)

I watched the season finale with my nieces and I could feel the anger rise in my SOUL when Kara went off on her “Mon-el is the first person I’ve ever liked… loved” tangent at the end because of how the show basically tried to pretend that James and Kara’s everything, all that “will they won’t they” in the first season, was a fluke or a dream.

I’m still mad.

Moving on…

Sure M’gann/Miss Martian is “racebent” thanks to the casting of Black Filipina-American Sharon Leal and the villainous Roulette is played by biracial Tibetan actress Dichen Lachman, but they don’t get enough screentime to hit the spot when it comes to diverse representation.

Roulette only appears in two episodes and she’s a villain that sells other humans into slavery at one point so that’s not exactly great representation even if you squint.

Additionally, while the J’onn/M’gann relationship winds up being cute as hell, it also takes up a lot of M’gann’s characterization and motivation, constantly putting her into relation with J’onn and J’onn alone.

Both characters are important to their respective arcs, but they’re barely present in the entire season and they have little to no positive interaction with the main characters.

Let’s look at the math: Roulette is in two out of twenty-two episodes while M’gann is in seven. That’s about nine and thirty-one percent of the episodes respectively. That wouldn’t be so bad if not for the fact that the other new character Mon-el is in every single episode of the series’s second season and gets a meaty chunk of the main plot.

Straight up, Mon-el gets more screentime than basically every single one of the new characters in this second season. He gets way too much of the show’s narrative focus, too much of the dialogue, and way too much of Kara’s attention.

At one point as I was watching the epiode with Tiny T, I tweeted that whenever I looked up while my small niece was watching Supergirl, half of the time the only people onscreen were white women. The other half, Mon-el was center stage and hogging the screen like it was his show.

What kind of feminism is that exactly?


[1] I don’t want to place labels on people so I’m not labeling Jenna Dewan-Tatum as a WOC or not because I don’t know how she thinks of herself and her Lebanese heritage.

 

 

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About Zina

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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