This past Monday, you got to see Melissa Benoist Debut as the Titular character in the new CBS series, Supergirl.
This is another one of the already numerous superhero TV shows on cable right now, but this is the first one that solely focuses on the life and perils of a female character, which is a feat in itself.
In the beginning of the pilot, you see Kara Zor-El (Benoist) aka Supergirl explain her origin, which involves her parents telling her to follow her baby cousin Kal-El (Superman) to earth, and protect him while they’re there. Unfortunately, when her ship shit takes off from Krypton (which has exploded at this point), the blast radius of the planet throws her ship off course, causing her to spend years in the phantom zone, a barren and insubstantial interdimensional realm outside the normal space/time continuum where criminals would be forced to live our their sentences. When, somehow, her ship finally left the negative zone, it finally landed on earth. Years had passed, and Superman was already an adult (older than her now) and a well established hero at this point. moving forward a decade, Kara is now an adult who works for an online and print empire named Catco. She’s been spending all these years trying to find some meaning in her life, and also a purpose (Similar to her cousin).
We won’t spoil anymore of the show for you if you haven’t seen it yet for some reason, but obviously after a life changing event causing her to rise to the challenge appears, she becomes something greater (Supergirl, of course).
Now, one the this biggest things you notice is that while mentioning Kara’s relationship to Superman in this show, they never actually say “Superman“, they just say a lot of things like “he” or “the big guy” and also ” your cousin“. This is actually a very good idea by the writers of the show. They could easily have her mooch off of her cousin’s name, but instead they want to make it clear that this is Supergirl’s story, not his. They could also just want her character to not be outshined by Supes (which isn’t hard), especially seeing as how he is being portrayed in a live-action movie in a separate shared universe coming up soon. This could throw casual viewers off, seeing as how they could be confused as to why Henry Cavill’s Superman isn’t helping her, or why she isn’t going to be in Batman V Superman.
Based on this first episode, you can tell that the tone of the show is going to be a lot less intense, serious, and “mature” than other superhero shows out right now (i.e. Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Flash, and Gotham). Kara is an adult, but she’s seems more relatable to a teenage girl with her child-like demeanor, but that doesn’t mean she’s not likable. Supergirl, seems to be taking an approach that may be seen as “cheesy” from an adults perspective with the tone and dialogue, but maybe that’s what the writers were intending. This could a show aimed at the younger generation (primarily younger girls) with something that’s been missing in the world: a female superhero they can look up to, and maybe even relate to. If this was what writer Greg Berlanti had in mind for this show, then he’s pulled it off and done a great job (hopefully it was. If not, then yikes).
The pilot also sped through one of the most important parts of any superhero origin: the part when they actually become a superhero. We see how the world first finds out about her, we see how she tells one of her coworkers (and friends), we even see how she gets her costume, but then they just skip to her actually being Supergirl. They fail to deliver the audience with her struggle along the way, any problems she had getting there (aside from minor costume malfunctions in some quickly-shown action sequences). That could’ve been one of the richest parts of the pilot, and sadly it was failed to be delivered in depth.
Regardless of the tone, the pacing, and character development, Supergirl delivers everything that is expected from the first episode and that will be the thing that keeps fans wanting more. Introducing a character related to Superman and making sure they stand out and have their own name is a hard feat to pull off, and CBS managed to do that with this pilot. The ratings also help prove that, seeing as how Supergirl had the best ratings of all shows this fall, producing 14 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults from ages 18-49, meaning that adults are actually enjoying the show so far as well. Whether it will continue to pull this off for the next few weeks is yet to be seen, but so far, Supergirl is taking off with a promising future behind her.
Supergirl airs on CBS every Monday at 8pm CST.