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An open letter to the CW’s “Supergirl”

An Open Letter to the Supergirl show, following an electoral calamity

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Dear Creators & Cast of Supergirl,

Crappy week. The day after an election outcome that was a shattering disappointment not just to my hopes for the future of this country, but to my belief in a fundamental American decency, I sought a brief escape by catching up with your latest episode (Season 2, ep. 5, “Crossfire”).

As usual, the episode features the relentlessly sunny Kara/Supergirl flying around thinking the best of people, doing the right thing because the right thing needs doing, and arguing with/about space aliens. But against a dark shift in American culture, I found particularly encouraging messages.

With the main plot revolving around “alien weapons” hitting the streets, someone in Kara’s newsroom cites the Second Amendment and suggests the world would be safer if everyone was carrying around alien laser guns. Kara speaks against that. It’s a quick moment, but one I appreciated as a sensible and admirable metaphor for real-world gun issues.

supergirl-crossfire-03cJames Olsen is acting upon some vigilante aspirations—this is a show about costumed heroes, after all. Watching a “normal guy” wrestle with a need to contribute more to society, even at personal risk, is, in a week where the world seems to have suddenly lurched toward darkness, inspirational.

One of your newest characters, Lena Luthor, remains an enigma. I’m sure in later eps, we’ll see a less savory side to her, but right now, Kara is giving her a chance despite her connection to her brother, Lex. That openness, that willingness to not prejudge someone without knowing them, is also something to take inspiration from. I think a large part of our political dysfunction is that too many people on both sides just shout down and demonize the other, which gets us nowhere.

And the biggest inspirational moment, of course, is Kara’s sister wrestling with her obvious attraction to Maggie, the lesbian cop she recently met—and the realization that she’s probably gay. The ep ends with her admitting as much to Maggie in a touchingly awkward and heartfelt conversation. supergirl-crossfire-04I imagine that in future episodes she’ll explore and share her newly understood identity with friends, colleagues and family. If you handle all that with the sensitivity of this episode, it’s going to be excellent TV.

But hey, you’re just a TV show, right? Sure, but you’re tapping characters that have long stood for positive values, including truth, justice, and an American way that seems imperiled, and I love that you’re not just respecting those values, but keeping them front and center.

I know there’s a hell of a lot more to do for this country, for the world, than feel satisfied that an escapist fantasy TV show is putting out positive messages, but media is powerful, and positive, heroic stories are balm for the weary soul.

So, for that, thank you very much.

Best, Brian

 

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