TV Review – Supergirl, S01E01: Pilot

DC Entertainment is stepping up to the TV plate once more with Supergirl, which aired tonight on CBS. The show shares EP and creator Greg Berlanti with the CW smash hit, The Flash. We haven’t had a show about the House of El since Smallville, and it’s time for Supergirl to take up the mantle of ‘Super’-show.

Luckily for viewers, Supergirl excels with flying colors. The Supergirl pilot covers story of Kara Danvers-El (Melissa Benoist), deciding to take up the mantle of hero, much like her cousin before her. And while Superman is already well-established in this world, Supergirl still needs some time to figure out her own strengths; not just as a fighter, but as a person.

Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers, David Harewood as Hank Henshaw

Benoist brings Kara to life as the cutest and most determined buttercup to ever grace our TV screens. She nails one of the most crucial aspects of Kara’s character: her big, beautiful heart. It’s impossible not to fall for Kara’s enthusiasm and effervescence. When she hurts, we hurt. And when she flies, I yelled at my TV. In a happy way.

Starring alongside Benoist is Chyler Leigh as sister and secret agent Alex Danvers. She’s mostly supportive, but her big sister concern (and later admission of jealousy) feels organic in the context of the show. She’s not competing with Kara, and she’s not undermining Kara’s success. Likewise, Kara has only respect and love for Alex. Their bond is going to be one of the linchpins of the series, and I can’t wait to see how they work together in later episodes.

There’s a particular scene in the episode where Kara interacts with the hologram of her mother. While Kara cries for her lost mother and planet, Alex is quick to take her hand. It was a gentle but powerful passing of the torch from caretaker to caretaker. And I’m always down for emotional family bonding moments. Quite frankly, I hate having a heart anyway. 

Coming to us from Metropolis is James “Jimmy” Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), Superman’s pal and Supergirl’s new, enormous crush. Watch Kara get adorably flustered as James helps her out with this whole superhero thing. Also, he’s got a smile that could power the city, so that’s definitely a plus.

It’s unclear if he’ll have any real romantic conversation from Kara’s male bestie, Winn Schlott (Jeremy Jordan.) And while right now, Winn and Kara seem to be on very good, if not sometimes awkward terms, it was announced today that Winn’s father, a villain known as The Toyman, has been cast.

With that in mind, Winn and Kara’s takeout and costume making sessions were some of the most earnest, fun, and realistic superhero TV I’ve ever seen. Who wouldn’t hang out with their friends and design costumes will eating lo mein? Brilliant.

with Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen

Our pilot plot doesn’t exactly rewrite the wheel, here, but it’s tongue in cheek and knowing in a way that really works in the show’s benefit. Calista Flockhart and David Harewood play Cat Grant/Miranda Priestly and Hank Henshaw, respectively: two more “adult” roles that provide a decent amount of grounding in the show’s pilot. Cat’s no-nonsense (and sometimes narcissistic) attitude keeps reality and humanity ever-present in Kara’s mind. Meanwhile, General Henshaw keeps the world of aliens at bay. Notably, Henshaw is another comics villain, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes. Right now, he plays the straight man to Kara and Alex’s duo; it’s a role I really like seeing him in, and I’d hate so see something happen to him.

Admittedly, Supergirl has got a few bumps in the pilot. The exposition-heavy opening scene comes to mind. And less of a bump but more of an issue with superhero television: we need more than two black faces for this show to actually count as diverse. As it turns out, PoC actually means people of color, and there’s a pretty wide spectrum, there. I know, I know. I was shocked, too. I’m hoping for all it’s deserved positivity, Supergirl steps up to the plate of intersectionality. Quite frankly, the show needs to, if it wants to really be considered a feminist piece. Reducing a pro-women message to only include white women has damaged the overall enjoyment and message of several notable shows.

That being said, Supergirl is certainly putting its heart into this pilot episode. We’ve got nearly everything: cutesy romance, lady bonding, a misogynist getting what’s his, courtesy of Kara and her sister. I’ll give Supergirl props for going for the overt metaphor. I think the full Supergirl experience deserves Kara literally throwing a jerk into a truck and then watching the truck explode. As Ginger Spice said in Spice World (1997): “Now that’s Girl Power.*”

*provided Supergirl puts in more of an inclusionary effort.

Supergirl airs Mondays, 8:30PM, on CBS.


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About the author

Rachel Greeman

is the Editor this city needs, but maybe not the one it deserves. She is a graduate of New York University, and spends her free time at Starbucks. She believes herself to be a combination of Selina Kyle and Kate Bishop, which is why she cosplays them all the time. Actually, her cosplay page is Check it out if you're cool or feel like looking at cosplays or whatever. Once, she met Chris Evans and accidentally flirted with him.

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