Erin sent us an email to discuss the political/topical storylines on The CW’s Supergirl TV series.
Hello! I’ve been a big fan of Supergirl since the beginning, but am relatively new to the podcast so I am only going to discuss things within the last couple of podcast episodes. (Sorry if you have discussed this in previous episodes.) Rebecca said recently that the podcast is a place where we can civilly and respectfully share our opinions so I thought I’d drop a line in this discussion.The episode where you discussed episode 6×10 ‘Still I Rise’, there was a lot of discussion how when Supergirl, the show, gets into politics/topical issues, it is some form of failing and it weakens the show and that in your opinion, the show is best when it goes into the “comic bookie” realm. I want to say that I think the show is best for me when it brings what happens in our real life world into this world of aliens and superpowers, so that those who experience it can relate and those that don’t can see something from a different perspective perhaps without even realizing it. In the movie V for Vendetta, there’s a line that says “Artists use lies to tell the truth while politicians use them to cover the truth up”. I like when I feel that, yes the things I watch are a form of escapism, but it is not completely devoid of things recognizable as some of what is happening in our real world.For me (so far), Season 4 of Supergirl is by far my favorite season for the reasons of covering these topical issues and giving Supergirl an enemy that she can’t just punch away. I agree with Morgan that when the main character is generally and physically invulnerable, it is great to see her need to deal with a problem that can’t be solved with all her physical strength. Plus, I liked the complexities of the notion of the villains of that season. You could have some sympathies for Ben Lockwood having to go through the struggles that he did, but still think that he was doing something wrong when he began to kill and otherwise demonize all aliens. Similarly, you could sympathize with Manchester Black and how he lost his fiancé, but still think that he was doing wrong when he was killing and attacking all the Children of Liberty as well as torturing J’onn. Even when finding that most of these issues were orchestrated by Lex Luthor, it made it even more intriguing thinking about the other “Big Bads” being somewhat used, themselves.I appreciate that the show is bringing in situations that go ignored in most cases and put a fictional face to a real topics. This is not a new phenomenon. One great example of a work of fiction bringing in real world occurrences is The Handmaids Tale (the book, not the show), The author Margaret Atwood said about writing the book “When I wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, nothing went into it that had not happened in real life, somewhere, at some time”. Now that is a book that is for a mature audience, but Supergirl is a family-friendly show, which is another piece that we need to remember when we watch it. They are trying to make it entertaining for many different ages and education levels. I would like to think that all adults know about gentrification, systemic racism, the climate crisis and any other topic this show may discuss, but that’s not a given. Even if it is assumed that all the adults watching know these things, there is also children watching, too. This show can be a catalyst for discussing these topics with their parents. It could also be something that encourages them to do something that makes some impact on these issues or just being more aware of them growing up, rather than learning about them as adults.Thank you for reading the poem, “Still I Rise”. In hearing that after seeing the episode, it felt like it would be something that I hope Orlando would be reading or just thinking about. He can worry about how so much is stacked against him, but feel confident that still he can rise. I do like that they have brought in some more other characters who live in National City that aren’t a part of the Super Friends and I hope we get to see more of Orlando and Joey. Something that I think about when I hear arguments about having politics in some form of entertainment is something that Lin Manuel Maranda said on that topic in an interview. He said “The ultimate way in which art can be political is it engenders empathy”. I’m glad that we are peeking into the lives of these two who are living in National City and are seeing what realities they are living in. We can see the battles that they need to face, to get even close to back to the life they were living before their parents died. The issues that they are dealing with are nowhere near over with (even before the building was destroyed) and I’m glad that we are seeing all these issues that marginalized people are going through so we can perhaps have a little more empathy for any of our fellow humans, no matter in their backstory.Thanks for letting me share my thoughts and for doing the podcast.– Erin