Based on its debut trailer, CBS's new Supergirl series looks like a Mark Mylod rom-com with explosions. Melissa Benoist, the titular superwoman, has said that she was drawn to the role because of Supergirl's complexity, whatever that means. Executive producer Greg Berlanti has referred to Supergirl as "the Annie Hall of superheroes."
This sounds like an exceedingly quirky disaster from jump.
It didn't have to be this way. If Drew Goddard and Netflix could resurrect Daredevil from its post-Affleck nadir, I wonder whether one of these prestige cable networks might have given Supergirl some guts, blood, and glory. Instead, homegirl is fetching coffee and layouts for ya boy Jimmy Olsen, played by Mechad Brooks, who distressingly resembles Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Why can't we have nice things? What is DC Comics thinking?
FRAZIER: So, Supergirl. In the grand battle for Hollywood’s soul that’s raging between DC and Marvel, this seems like a random move. It’s not linked to the Man of Steel series. It’s not linked to Smallville, which did the "fledgling awkward Kryptonian becomes greatest hero ever" thing for a full fucking decade. Charity, I ask you: do we need this show?
CHARITY: Honestly, I gave up on superhero TV franchises before Smallville got axed from the CW lineup. Smallville is the greatest show-that-was-never-really-that-great of all time. There’s no topping Tom Welling’s speed-walking, heights-averse portrayal of Yung Superman, or Allison Mack’s generally perplexed, Scoobie Doo-inspired portrayal of Chloe Sullivan, who should’ve been Smallville’s principal character to begin with.
I watch the Supergirl trailer and wonder whether this is a comic book sequel to The Devil Wears Prada or, worse yet, a superhero rehash of What’s Your Number? How is it that Supergirl is flirtatiously intimidated by motherfucking Jimmy Olsen? Melissa Marie Benoist wanna be Anna Faris so bad.
FRAZIER: Lmao I’m not quite sure what to make of this show via CBS’s episode video recap—seriously, this thing gives away more details than most movie trailers—but I think the streets are gassed over it because we were expecting the absolute worst. CBS is a trash albeit hit network with a one good show every 10 years average. Couple that with network television’s embarrassing attempts to launch a Wonder Woman show that’s even halfway decent (the alleged awfulness of David E. Kelley’s pilot from a few years ago is the stuff of legend). I don't know anything about Supergirl beyond the basics, let alone what the hell a Melissa Marie Benoist even is, but this looks nice, spunky Girl Power fun. What were you expecting? What did you see in Smallville that you don’t see here? What do you want from a Supergirl show?
CHARITY: I want Supergirl to fuck up some commas. Ideally, she’d be throwing knuckles at glass and scissor-kicking Luther Corp. lackeys in the throat, not filing expense reports and ordering lunch from the nearest Chop’t. Such are the perils of being a CBS drama. Apart from Daredevil, when will an intrepid director shop the superhero flourish to premium cable, where blood is abundant and sex is gratuitous? Supergirl on HBO is already a top-five dead-or-alive TV series, and it doesn’t even exist. *furiously scribbles TV-MA pilot*
Good thing I’m not emotionally invested in DC Comics’ legacy or American comics in general.
FRAZIER: If there’s one thing that really depresses me about this trailer, it’s that in 2015, a superhero series is still trying to sell us on the idea that fucking eyeglasses are a viable disguise. Zack Snyder did away with Superman’s weakness being a green rock but he kept the goddamn glasses. Man of Steel was borderline trash. But spectacles-as-masks? I already can’t take any character who’ll be in the dark about her identity seriously.
CHARITY: No, the very worst elements of this imminent CBS series are the soundtrack of Best Buy novice pop bonus tracks, and homegirl's costume: Supergirl rocking H&M skirts and velvet blankets in supersonic flight. Did Supergirl's producers learn nothing from Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s gritty, “realistic” costume specs for Batman? Or better yet, CBS might've gone the Smallville route and scrapped homegirl’s costume all together.
FRAZIER: I’m OK so long as any and every superhero adaptation from here on out ditches the Nolan route. He came through, made The Blueprint, crushed the building—grand opening, grand closing—rendering all things “dark and gritty” *Christian Bale Batman voice™* merely formulaic in his wake. It would be much more lit (read: I’d be much more impressed) if these CBS motherfuckers managed to go the complete opposite direction, and make a Lois & Clark-style series palatable in 2015. Remember how fly Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain were? (Or am I hyping it up because I was like 9 when that shit was on?)
Either way, here’s what I need from this series: don’t be Smallville. Be plucky and spunky or whatever without being corny. Ease up on the gas re: Calista Flockhart on her, as you said, super Devil Wears Prada wave. And most of all, don’t keep the specter of Superman hanging over this shit, re: the trailer’s last scene. If all this pilot and onward does is make me long for the glory days of Smallville, phew, brick-on-arrival. Clean that salt out of your wound, son, aren’t you excited at the prospect of a fire new Girl Power™ series on the horizon? It’s either this or reload Buffy on Netflix.