Why Supergirl Is Great Family Fun
October 29th, 2015 | by Jonathan Thompson
The latest in the current boom of superhero shows is CBS’s new Supergirl, starring Melissa Benoist. Here, ComiConverse’s Jonathan Thompson tells us how the show won him — and his daughter — over.
CBS has a lot of TV shows that are number one in their respective categories and/or time slots, and I think they’re going to have another one with the addition of Supergirl on Monday nights. In the pilot episode, it had plenty of humorous moments and it had drama. It showed that Kara Zor-El, or Kara Danvers as she is known on Earth, in National City isn’t just a female version of her cousin, Kal-El, in Metropolis. She is a different kind of hero, one that her fictional world needs as well as our world. But that isn’t all the show did, at least not for my family.
When I learned that Supergirl was being turned into a television show, my only attention toward it was about the chances for some excellent cross-over potential with the CW’s Arrow and The Flash. I didn’t know a lot about the character beyond what I had seen on Superman: the Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited, in which she was voiced by Nicholle Tom. As far as live-action went, I wasn’t a big fan of Smallville so I missed a lot of Laura Vandervoort’s portrayal as the Girl of Steel. In 1984 there was Supergirl: the Movie, but I was three years old at the time, so it never really registered. I also heard it wasn’t that great, so I skipped it.
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There wasn’t a reason to tune in to Supergirl. I’d set it to record on my DVR and watch it if I had a chance. I had no idea who Melissa Benoist was. When I saw she was on Glee, I began asking what Glee was. I knew of Calista Flockhart, but I’d never seen Ally McBeal, so I had no inkling of her acting ability. The entire cast seemed like up and coming stars looking for their shots. Then I heard her adopted father would be played by Dean Cain, who was the Superman I grew up with on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. If he was Kara Danvers’s dad, then maybe the show was worth watching. I wasn’t excited for it but I’d add it to the end of my list when I watched my weekly recordings.
Monday night came and my daughter was fighting sleep harder than usual and I could not stand watching a sixth episode of Mickey Mouse. Looking for an adult show that was also suitable for her, I realized I didn’t have any so I chose Supergirl. As a father and a geek, it was one of the best ideas I have ever had.
When Melissa Benoist came out in her Supergirl suit, minus the “S,” I saw my daughter’s face light up. It was like my face had done when I first saw Batman on TV. She didn’t ask who that was, just said she was “super.” I told my little girl, “Yes, that’s Supergirl.”
Though she didn’t fully understand the secret identity aspect of the show, every time Supergirl was on the screen, there was a smile on her face and she kept telling me, “Daddy, that’s Supergirl.” When Vartox beat Supergirl during their first fight, she almost looked heartbroken. She wouldn’t stop telling me that Supergirl was hurt. During the final battle, when the truck exploded around the Girl of Steel, she was sitting right in front of the TV, eyes wide. Vartox killed himself instead of being captured, which I had to explain as “he was just sleeping”, but she hung on every moment of that final fight. I told her, “Supergirl won,” and she cheered.
As Melissa’s version of Supergirl flew across our TV, my daughter began asking where Supergirl went and if she could watch it again. Since it was after 10 o’clock, I told her no but the way her face was still lit up, how her eyes were filled with such amazement, I knew this was the start of something great.
Supergirl is the story of a woman trying to make a name for herself in the world, both as Kara Danvers and Supergirl. It is a story that I am happy to share with my daughter, even though she doesn’t understand all of it. Showing her that there are women in the world, besides her mother, who are strong and heroic is something I couldn’t have asked for in a television series. Supergirl will have her awkward moments but we’ll see that we don’t have to be defined by those moments. We all have the ability to define ourselves.
Seeing that spark in my daughter’s eyes, the wonder on her face, was more than I can put into words. I was wrong about the show and we will be tuning in next Monday. I suggest you do the same.
Does my opinion seem like something so odd it came from another planet? Then share your opinion below in the comments section and let’s get a debate going faster than a speeding bullet.
Jonathan Thompson is a Contributor to @ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter at @Jon_Toast