Why Supergirl Is The Best Superhero Show On The CW
The CW has built an empire out of superhero shows, kicking off four nights of primetime per week with shows all about comic book characters. The trend started in 2012 with Arrow, then expanded to The Flash in 2014 and Legends of Tomorrow in early 2016. This fall, the CW lineup got an addition when Supergirl made the move from CBS.
All three of the original CW shows have their merits. There's Arrow for folks who don't like superpowers, The Flash for people who love the fantastical, and Legends of Tomorrow for viewers who like time travel. The writing generally isn't anything phenomenal, and it tends to be best not to think too hard about the plots and just try to enjoy the ride. Supergirl is a different story. Although everyone has their favorite, thanks to a combination of factors, Supergirl has pushed above and beyond the original shows. Check out our breakdown of the big reasons why it has become the best superhero show on The CW.
There's Something For Everyone
Supergirl really has something for everyone. You love superpowers? Kara's got 'em. You don't like superpowers? Meet Alex, who is a very human hero. You enjoy friendly aliens? Martian Manhunter is on hand. There's romance, but it doesn't overpower the plot. There's action, but there's also character development. There are moments ripped from the pages of the comics, but you don't need to be well-versed in DC lore to understand them.
Admittedly, Supergirl isn't a show for anybody who always prefers dark and gritty plots out of their superhero fare. Kara is so full of sunshine that even Barry Allen can seem grim in comparison. Still, there are serious elements that tackle real life issues, ranging from immigration to gender inequality to even genocide. Supergirl strikes a solid balance between a happy hero and a dangerous world. It's the best of Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow rolled together into one.
It Sticks To Its Own Rules
For a show about an alien with so many abilities that she defies the most basic laws of physics and biology, Supergirl has done pretty well with setting rules and keeping them. Kara derives her power from Earth's yellow sun. Green kryptonite makes her weak, and red kryptonite makes her crazy. She can do almost anything, but she can't always do everything, and she doesn't get reset buttons when she fails.
To contrast, the other three superhero shows on The CW break their own rules all the time. Arrow has sometimes changed Oliver's skills as a fighter on a weekly basis, depending on who the plot du jour wants to showcase. The Flash has rewritten its laws about time travel a few times since Season 1, and Legends of Tomorrow makes up its own laws about time travel all the time. Supergirl's consistency sets it apart in the best way.
It Has Its Own Universe
Part of the fun of Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow existing in the same universe is that viewers of all three shows get to see their favorite characters cross over to the other series every once in a while. What happens on one show affects the others, and that adds a sense of scale to all three of them.
That said, the three series in the Flarrow-verse don't always affect each other in the best ways. Arrow and The Flash have had crossovers that - while somewhat awesome - didn't fit with the timing of both shows, and the Flashpoint story that is affecting Arrow as well as The Flash has not always worked out well. Supergirl exists in its own universe, unaffected by crossover timing and unchanged by the time travel shenanigans of another hero on another show. Crossovers can be fun without constraint.
It Makes Sense Out Of Its Over-The-Top Premise
Supergirl is a show about a young woman who fights crime in a skirt with her hair flying in her face and no mask to conceal her identity. As Supergirl, she interacts with people she knows as Kara and most don't even bat an eye. On a superficial level, Supergirl is kind of ridiculous.
What allows it to pass is that Supergirl makes sense in its own universe. People don't recognize Kara as Supergirl because that's just how it works on her Earth, and that Earth is clearly not our Earth. On Kara's Earth, the president looks like Wonder Woman and Beyonce is a senator and an alien superhero can conceal her secret identity with a pair of glasses. Would it make sense in the real world or in the other shows in The CW's DC universe? Absolutely not. But it consistently works on Supergirl.
It Has Well-Written Female Characters
Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow all have their fair share of awesome ladies, some of whom are heroes on the streets and some of whom are heroes behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the writing for the ladies is consistently inconsistent across all three shows. The men are the leads on most of the other CW shows, and there's a lack of balance between the male and female characters because of it.
Which brings us to Supergirl. Kara, Alex, and Cat are full-fledged characters with plots of their own that pass the Bechdel test on a regular basis. Although Cat has sadly become recurring for Season 2, Supergirl has introduced Detective Maggie Sawyer, who could be pretty fabulous in her own right. None of them are perfect characters, but their plots are also not almost always about the guys in their lives, and that's something that The CW needs more regularly for female characters in its superhero series. An entire lineup of well-written characters makes for a better show and better universe overall.
It Has A New Kind Of Superman
Superman is arguably the biggest superhero in DC Comics history. His much-hyped appearance on Supergirl ran the risk of completely overshadowing the leading lady on her own show. Bringing in a more famous version of a hero with more or less the same abilities might have backfired spectacularly. Introducing Superman on Supergirl could have been like bringing Batman onto Arrow for a couple episodes: cool, but totally taking the spotlight away from the hero.
Luckily, both episodes of Supergirl that featured Superman kept Kara at the forefront of the action. The show successfully turned Superman into a side character, and neither episode felt like a backdoor pilot for a Superman series. Supergirl remained about Supergirl. His appearance proved that Supergirl could incorporate iconic aspects of DC Comics without upstaging the star of the show and marginalizing her journey. The same can't always be said for the other DC CW shows.
Tune in to The CW on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET to see what's next for Kara Danvers on Supergirl.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.