30 October 2015


I'm afraid I don't share the enthusiasm for Supergirl. It might improve — this week was, after all, just the premiere — but it's still stuck in the same old definition of heroism and superpowers and "appropriate" plots and stereotypical character relationships, even when it attempts to recognize that a Y chromosome is neither necessary nor a birth defect. It still has this fundamental problem:

The first episode was grievously flawed; watching it resembled watching a train wreck. Never think through a problem, let alone consider an indirect approach; nope, we gotta act now even when we know we don't know enough, especially to create a few false conflicts. Engage in temper tantrums that would shame a two-year-old without regard to gender or culture. Recognize only those problems that have an obvious, immediate, physical-and-violent manifestation. Throw in some incompetent, bumbling bureaucratic and management figures and structures that are greater impediments to "heroism" than the purported villains. And villians, ensure that you take more time (and have even more overdeveloped devotion to screwed-up vengeance against the relatives of those who slighted them) than a Bond villain. I wish you'd all grow up and be adults — or at least consider that your characters might need to act like adults to deal with the universal superpower (and the really awful soundtrack and ridiculously implausible "incidents," like a plane crash in which the plane got below 500m without deploying flaps and landing gear). Not that the next-up-on-that-channel "supersized" episode of caricatured one-dimensional "gifted people" was any better... "too much good TV" my left little toenail.

A real superhero determined to actually make a difference — while virtuously and morally allowing puny humans to self-determine their futures — would find a way to, say, feed and clothe and shelter and provide medical care for a generation of kids, or even just provide a couple of years' worth of basic necessities while avoiding the most-obvious black-market opportunities. All without using force — or otherwise demonstrating an excess of machoism in the writers' room, regardless of superficial feminist impulses that mean it's not entirely testosterone-fuelled machoism — to take resources away from anyone else. And hey, if we need to remain American-centric for the benefit of the advertisers, it could even be in Baltimore (or, to keep things nice and caucasian, 400km west in Appalachia)! We'll also ignore the low probability of a young personal assistant in a major metropolitan area earning enough to have the nice (oversized to accommodate the camera crews) apartment and extensive wardrobe to choose from, or the utter lack of dirt anywhere away from fight scenes, or.... Of course, that would be a lot harder to shoot, and would probably drive away advertisers who choose to focus on high-disposable-income audiences (hints of the universal superpower again). Instead, we get the equivalent of a cheap easy laugh in a bad stand-up routine, primarily because none of the decisionmakers have themselves significant experience with (or even direct contact with) reality outside the Industry; that's only a short drive to Newark or East LA away, but apparently a drive that can't be fit into a busy schedule.

I have five fingers on each hand, but I only need one to express my opinion about the lost opportunities. You can probably guess which one.