Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Obsessed with Supergirl, Part 2

Season 2 SPOILERS*****

Well, geez, I barely got the last post published & the writers on Supergirl have already sunk the show to its lowest point ever.  This is bad.  This is so bad.  For a show that started off so feminist & strong & girl power-y, it has done a complete 180.

Let's start with a simple description of things that often happen with female characters in movies & TV.

#1 - Trinity Syndrome.  What is Trinity Syndrome you ask?  “For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.”

OMG, you guys, this is totally happening.  With the introduction of the white male character Mon-El, Kara has slowly been pushed to the side & Supergirl even more so, UNLESS it has to do with the relationship.  Remember in my last post how I mentioned that in some episodes the male cast members were getting something like 75% of the screen time?  Yeah.  
Now, I decided to actually time our main character's screen time without the new male "lead" in the episode "Star-Crossed".  It was about 7 minutes, give or take.
Also, with Kara being fired, the Catco/Reporter part of Kara's life has been completely & totally dropped.  The importance of reporting to Kara has just vanished.  The importance of anything in her life, other than her relationship with Mon-El,  just simply doesn't exist.

Seriously?  For real?  Ugh.  Yuck.


In "Star-Crossed" we learn that our new "lead" white male character Mon-El is actually the Prince of Daxam, a party planet that had slaves & kept it's people drunk, drugged & distracted in order to abuse them.  Mon-El was actively part of that.  He benefited from it.  He escaped by abandoning the woman in his bed, his guard killed a Kryptonian, stole his pod & placed the Prince inside with no arguments from Mon-El.  When he arrived on Earth, he lied to Kara.  He has been actively lying to Kara since day one.  9 months of lying, as he slowly managed to develop an intimate relationship with her.  

Let me ask you something.  Let's say you met someone that said he worked as a guard for ISIL.  He tells you that he wants a fresh start & you are wary.  Still, he keeps trying.  He often disregards your wishes (like telling everyone you are dating after you've asked him to keep it quiet for a while) and blames everything he does wrong on simply not understanding because of his raising or cultural differences.  So you keep giving him the benefit of the doubt but then, after developing a relationship & having sex you find out this dude was actually an active member & leader of ISIL.  He actually beheaded people. I don't know about you, but I would be horrified.  This isn't just a simple lie.  This is a terrifying betrayal as well as a very scary insight into the mental process of this person. Saying he didn't know any better is just not acceptable.

Now, some argue that Kara is trying to make him better & he keeps begging her to help him be a "hero", but this too is ridiculous.  It is NOT a woman's job to train a boy to become a man.  It is not the female lead character's job to train a man to be a hero.  Kara hasn't figured out how to balance her life yet & now the CW has made her main mission in Supergirl to train & better a horrible slave-owning asshole from a planet & family that tortured it's own people.  

If any characters should be helping this guy, it should be James & Winn.  Why is this Kara's job?!

Also, Mon-El never really apologizes until it's very clear that their relationship is over.  Instead, he does the classic abusive thing of laying blame on the female because of his discomfort.  

"By now the girl usually forgives the guy for whatever the dumb thing the guy has done." - Mon-El

WTF?  It gets worse.  He pretty much admits the only reason he wants to be a hero is to stay with Kara.  

"I love being the hero because it means I get to spend every single day by your side." - Mon-El

This means he still isn't getting it.  He doesn't understand what a hero is.

Kara then asks him: "Where you ever going to tell me the truth?"

And he answers: "I don't know.

Holy crap, he just admitted that if Mom & Dad hadn't shown up, he might have NEVER told her.  That's pretty F'd up.
She breaks up with him at the end only to immediately get back with him in the musical episode of the Flash.  

"I forgive you." - Kara after waking up from the Music Meister's spell.

We went from a female-centric show about a hero trying to find her humanity & balance her life, and stand up for women everywhere, to a male-centric show about a jerk from a planet of terror that needs a Mommy/Wife to show him how to be good.

Oh, make me so incredibly sad.  

The ratings are the lowest they've ever been. 


Geez, I wonder why?  
It's probably too late to turn this around now, but if the writers care or want to try, here's some advice:

  1. After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?
  2. If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?
  3. Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?
  4. Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?
  5. …or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fuck-up, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?
  6. It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?
  7. Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?
  8. Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)? 

There's also the Bechdel test: 

  1. The movie/TV show has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

There's also the Mako Mori Test:

  1. at least one female character
  2. who gets her own narrative arc
  3. that is not about supporting a man’s story.
Here's a great article on more ways to excel with a female character:

The writer's have essentially cut off all female contact with Kara in Season 2 as well.  No Cat Grant, no Lucy Lane, her sister has a g/f now & they have cut way back on the Alex & Kara moments.  Her only other real female contact is Lena Luthor who only guest stars in the show.

As you can see by everything above, that's another serious problem for a show with a female lead.

I think it's a lost cause, but I really, really hope these writers wake the hell up & fix this show.  It had the potential to be amazing, but now it's just another male-centric trope fest.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Obsessed with Supergirl

 So, I'm completely & totally obsessed with the CW series Supergirl. I'm not sure how it happened but I know the exaxt episode it happened.  When I started the series with season 1 on CBS, I was completely unimpressed & even felt Supergirl was a little lame.

I stayed with it though & was very glad I did. The amount of girl power in the form of female actors on screen was amazing. I haven't seen that much time devoted to females on screen since Xena. Not to mention the great chemistry between them. Calista Flockhart plays Cat Grant & her chemistry with Melissa Benoist (Kara Danvers/Supergirl) is awesome. Kara is Cat's assistant. There's a whole scene where Kara gets mad at Cat & yells at her (for good reason) & Cat takes Kara out for drinks. She explains that women cannot lose their tempers at work. Men can throw chairs out windows but if a woman so much as raises her voice, she will be labeled as emotional or hysterical or unable to function in a business/upper management or CEO. Truth right there. So much truth. That relationship was an amazing part of Season 1. Unfortunately, in season 2, CBS handed the show over to the CW network & they wrote Cat Grant's character off 2 or 3 episodes in. I think this was a huge mistake.  Cat is sorely missed in Season 2.

Another great relationship is that of Kara & her sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh).  It's a very touchy/feeling relationship but one not without issues. Alex was an only child before Kal-El dropped Kara off with the Danvers. There's quite a bit of resentment about that. Right off the bat I pegged Alex as a character that might have more to add later as well. She had a certain swagger & familiarity to her. I pegged her as our future LGBTQI character & in Season 2 , we have a very realistic coming out story for this character. #Sanvers was born & the Sanvers fandom was rewarded rather quickly.  Alex telling Kara was very emotional for me, personally.

One thing that was pretty lacking in Season 1 was a complex & layered villain. We had Red Tornado, Livewire, Maxima, General Lane, Jemm, Maxwell Lord, Idigo (brainiac 8) and the big bad, Kryton's own Non & Kara's Aunt, Astra. Maxwell Lord was an alienaphobe, billionaire, tech guru.  He was so incredibly cardboard. It just never really took. Astra was a pretty good villian but she didn't make it to the end.  Non was annoying.  The Non/Indigo thing was actually kind of creepy to me.

Season 2 gives us the best possible villain of all. Lena Luthor. It's been a constant "is she , or isn't she" when it comes to her character in more than one way. Is she evil or good & is she or isn't interested in Kara/Supergirl romantically. Let me tell you, the subtext between these two ladies is DELICIOUS. Katie McGrath is the actor playing Lena Luthor & she is drop dead gorgeous. A shipper group of fans called SuperCorp has risen & I won't lie, I've joined them. Katie McGrath's Lena Luthor was what started my serious obsession with Supergirl. I had really begun to love the show because of all the things I mention above, as well as Melissa Benoist amazing & fun acting. She really is perfect in this part. However, once Lena Luthor entered the show, that was it. I'm 110% hooked. I can't miss an episode & have even delved further into fandom with vids & fanfic.

I really, really hope they keep this Lena/Kara/Supergirl storyline going for way more than one season.

Lena's possible betrayal is going to be heart wrenching, if it happens, which I really hope it doesn't.

I'm fairly certain they will never be able to top Lena Luthor. Certainly not Katie McGrath. The chemistry between the two actors is pure electricity. It makes me a bit worried for future seasons.

I'd love to see a great storyline where we thing Lena has turned bad but it's really all a set-up or is something different altogether.  Right now my running theory is that she is trying to take down her Mother because she really blames her for Lex Luthor's psychotic break & her abandonment.  In doing so she uses Supergirl.  Once Supergirl learns this, of course, she feels betrayed but in a way understands & together they figure something else out.  This psuedo betrayal with make things very complicated with her & Kara. In one of the most recent episodes Lena is shown moving the white knight next to the black queen on a chess board.  I believe that she is the black queen & Supergirl is her white knight, but it could also be that she sees herself as the white knight trying to take down the black queen, her mother.

Now, I do want to point out some of the bad.  The screen time for all the ladies dropped off big time with the move to the CW. We're talking down more than 50% on some episodes.That means all the ladies combined are only getting about 25% or less of the screen time. For a show about a lady hero with a sister with a girlfriend & a female villain with female assistant that seems incredibly wrong.  The show has focused quite a bit on a new male hero, Mon-El of Daxam, as well as Jimmy Olson & Winn becoming team Guardian. While that is all good and fine, all of that taking attention from our main hero seems like a slap on the bottom with an order to make the coffee.  C'mon guys, the show is called Supergirl. Seeing all these amazing women on screen is the real draw of the show. Focus.  The last few episodes have started to head back the other direction. I think it is in part to the female fans that are crunching the numbers and keeping the writers accountable. Thanks, gals!

Another not so fun new development is the attention focused on Kara's love life. First it's Jimmy, which wasn't overwhelming the narrative in Season 1. The chemistry between Jimmy & Kara just didn't work & I was happy to see them drop that relationship right off the bat in season 2. Unfortunately, she went directly from Jimmy to Mon-El & it HAS dominated much of the narrative. Mon-El is a frat boy. He is sold to us as a Frat boy with a heart of gold who wants to be a better person by becoming a hero. I'm not really buying what they are selling. He's a douche. Period. He doesn't seem to give Kara the depth of attention she needs, gives her terrible advice, and doesn't respect her at all. Ugh.

Now, my hopes are that they continue to play up the Kara/Lena subtext, have Mon-El slowly taper off, have the focus go back to Kara/Supergirl & balancing the hero with the human.  Stop with the relationship crap.  The Cadmus storyline is good, but I'm not sure how much longer they can drag that out.  I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what role the US President (played by Lynda Carter) plays & how that pans out.  Let's explore Kara & Supergirl and her struggle with balancing her life.  That was a fun & good storyline.  Let Kara & Supergirl grow without the need for a romantic relationship.  The dynamic with Lena is great.  Kara & Lena being best buds will lead to Kara wanting to tell Lena she is Supergirl.  Of course the DEO & Alex will all find this problematic since they don't trust Lena.  Get back to the reporter stuff.  Get back to the story fundamentals.

Whatever happens, I'm hooked...for now. Totally & completely.  Let's hope the writers realize their mistakes & it only gets better from here!

Supergirl airs on the CW Network, Monday's at 7pm CST