When Supergirl premiered on CBS late in 2015, it joined a rather lengthy list of superhero-focused TV that included Fox’s Gotham, Netflix’s Daredevil, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, as well as The CW’s DC Comics universe consisting of Arrow and The Flash. Throughout Supergirl’s first season, it has been joined by new series like Netflix’s Jessica Jones and The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. All this is to say, Supergirl arrived at a time in which TV fans have a glut of options ranging in various tones and subject matter all under the superhero umbrella.
Still, Supergirl made a name for itself right out the gate by setting a Fall 2015 record high with its premiere ratings and drawing 14 million viewers – perhaps helped along by the buzz created when the pilot leaked earlier in the year. Created by Ali Adler (No Ordinary Family, Chuck) and Greg Berlanti (the architect behind Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow), Supergirl seemed to provide perfect counter-programming to the other superhero series on television with its light and optimistic tone.
However, while there were certainly high points throughout its 20-episode first season, Supergirl has also drawn criticism for not quite sticking the landing in its final batch of episodes leading up to, and including, the season finale. Additionally, though Supergirl received a ratings boost during the week of the crossover with The Flash, the show hasn’t quite lived up to its record-breaking premiere in terms of ratings or viewership numbers.
But, despite these bumps in the road, it seemed Supergirl would be granted a second season by CBS. Earlier this year, CBS CEO Les Moonves spoke about the chances of the network’s new series continuing: “I believe all five of them will be renewed.” However, CBS has yet to announce the official renewals of Supergirl or any of its other freshman shows, even though many of the network’s more veteran series were picked up earlier this spring. So, with the fate of Kara Zor-El’s superhero show currently unknown, does Supergirl deserve a second season?
Decent Season Ratings
As previously stated, Supergirl season 1 started off strong in terms of its ratings, though they continued to drop as the season went on. This tends to be true of many series, and fellow superhero shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Flash – both of which premiered strong on their respective networks – saw similar dropoffs in their inaugural seasons. According to TV Series Finale, Supergirl ended its season with a little less than half what it started off with, both in terms of rating and viewers.
However, in comparison to other series on television this season, Supergirl is holding its own. In the week of its season finale, Supergirl was ranked 18th in the Top 25 broadcast shows in terms of ratings according to TV by the Numbers – ahead of fellow comic book-based series Gotham and The Flash. Additionally, compared to other CBS series by TV by the Numbers, Supergirl’s season 1 average 18-49 demo rating of 1.68 falls toward the top of the pack – behind heavy-hitters The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Criminal Minds, but still ahead of certain shows that have already been renewed, like Hawaii Five-O and NCIS: Los Angeles.
So, Supergirl’s ratings may have declined over the course of season 1 and they may not be up to par with CBS’s most successful shows, but the superhero drama is still one of the better rated series on the network. Additionally, considering the boost Supergirl received during The Flash crossover – roughly a 32 percent increase according to TV Series Finale – the show would have the opportunity to grow its ratings and viewership numbers over the course of a second season.
Plenty of Crossover Potential
In terms of The CW’s DC Comics television universe, those behind the scenes have assured fans crossovers will be a regular occurrence, and that has certainly been the case in recent years. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) made his first appearance on Arrow before being spun off into The Flash; a crossover event between the two series occurred early on in The Flash season 1, and Arrow season 3; then both Arrow and The Flash were utilized to establish characters who appeared in the second crossover event that launched Legends of Tomorrow. But, even though Supergirl was developed by The CW’s DC universe architect Berlanti, since Kara Zor-El’s series landed at CBS it was unclear whether the show would be able to crossover.
However, after plenty of discussion by many of those involved in The CW’s universe and Supergirl – including Berlanti, CW boss Mark Pedowitz, and CBS president Glenn Geller – The Flash crossover was officially announced to take place during Supergirl’s 18th episode of the season, titled ‘Worlds Finest.’ An earlier episode of The Flash established that Supergirl exists in a different universe within the DC Comics TV multiverse, with Barry Allen appearing in Kara Danvers’ (Melissa Benoist) National City by accident during ‘Worlds Finest.’
As with crossovers between The CW shows, ‘Worlds Finest’ offered plenty of fan service to viewers excited to see two major DC Comics heroes appear on screen together, and Supergirl received the aforementioned boost in the ratings. As a result of the crossover episode, Arrow star Stephen Amell voiced his hope to see Oliver Queen meet Kara Danvers as well. Additionally, Berlanti spoke about the desire to see Supergirl appear on one of The CW’s series, seeming to indicate the door has been opened by ‘Worlds Finest’ that could lead to even more cross-network appearances by the DC Comics heroes.
Certainly, given the audience reaction to ‘Worlds Finest,’ which was largely positive despite certain poorly realized story threads in the episode pertaining to its villains, a second season of Supergirl would open the door to even more crossovers. Considering The CW has already renewed Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow for subsequent seasons, CBS’s official decision about Supergirl season 2 seems to be the last remaining piece that would need to fall into place for more crossovers between these four DC Comics shows.
Goodwill Earned by Fans
In terms of storytelling, Supergirl season 1 had its problems, especially when it came to establishing an exciting, but still believable, pace and resolving certain threads like the season-long conflict between Kara and Non (Chris Vance). It’s possible some of these issues arose from the staggered season 1 order – Supergirl was originally granted 13 episodes before the order was bumped up to 20, which is still three episodes less than a typical season of Arrow or The Flash. But, though Supergirl may have stumbled in its final run of episodes, the season as a whole provided plenty of better executed story threads.
For instance, Supergirl’s portrayal of female relationships was consistently realistic, well-acted, and, for the most part, well-written. The sisterly bond between Kara and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) became one of the most important relationships of the season and largely acted as the emotional heart of the show. Meanwhile, the mentor/mentee dynamic between Kara and Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) often provided comedic relief while also allowing the Girl of Steel many human moments of weakness and strength. While Supergirl may have faltered on its romantic relationships, the show regularly portrayed platonic female relationships that aren’t seen on television very often – and the show portrayed them exceptionally well.
Additionally, Supergirl season 1 also succeeded in crafting an extended arc pertaining to J’onn J’onzz a.k.a. Martian Manhunter (David Harewood). Between the reveal of J’onn posing as Hank Henshaw early on in the season and the character’s emotionally complex background on Mars with the White Martians, as well as J’onn taking on an adoptive father role to both Alex and Kara, Martian Manhunter’s portrayal in Supergirl season 1 have epitomized the show’s ability to take fantastical alien characters and craft compelling drama.
While Supergirl may not have delivered an entirely flawless first season, the show proved many times throughout season 1 that it’s capable of achieving greatness. Whether with the series’ development of its female relationships, the progression of Martian Manhunter’s storyline, or other aspects of the show, Supergirl has shown enough potential in crafting characters and compelling story arcs to warrant a second season. Certainly, at the very least, a second season would give Supergirl room to create and develop more fascinating and well-rounded villains than Non, Indigo (Laura Vandervoort), and Silver Banshee (Italia Ricci).
A Female Superhero Show
The fact that Supergirl stars a female superhero isn’t reason alone to give the show a second season. But, Supergirl is one of three superhero shows revolving around a main female protagonist and one of only two shows featuring a main female protagonist with actual superpowers. Of course, it should be noted that these three shows account for one third of of the total nine superhero series currently on basic cable and Netflix. This is certainly a larger chunk than were on TV in the current trend of comic book adaptations prior to 2015 – when zero female-led superhero shows were on television. Plus, it’s much better than the film side of the comic book trend, which will see its first female-led superhero film in over a decade when Wonder Woman hits theaters in 2017.
Though Supergirl deserves some credit for adding gender diversity to comic book superhero adaptations, the series’ handling – for the most part – of its female superhero is what sets the show apart. Early on in season 1, the series tackled the topic of how Kara differentiates herself from her cousin, Superman, within the framework of the show, and effectively differentiated Supergirl from fellow superhero series with male heroes, like The Flash, Arrow, and Daredevil.
Additionally, an episode early on in Supergirl season 1, ‘Red Faced,’ handled the topic of female anger in a way so rarely portrayed on television, let alone superhero shows. Specifically ‘Red Faced’ acknowledged the double standard that men are allowed to show anger while women are taught to hide their anger lest they be deemed impossible to work with. The episode was capped off with one of the series’ strongest moments to date, Supergirl’s raged-fueled heat vision take down of Red Tornado, and a powerful moment that likely resonated with many of the show’s viewers due to its portrayal of realistic emotion.
During its entire first season, Supergirl made it clear that this is a comic book show specifically from the perspective of a female superhero. Operating from this perspective, Supergirl featured many moments challenging gender-based stereotypes, some that were subtle, like Kara’s heat vision scene, but many more that were on-the-nose. While the show’s handling of its female protagonist may be more effective with certain viewers than others, Supergirl is unapologetically a female-led superhero property – and one that exists in a time alongside dozens of other superhero properties on TV and in film, but not as many with female leads as fans would hope.
So, does Supergirl deserve a second season? Looking at the ratings, the crossover potential with The CW’s DC Comics shows, the storytelling season 1 got right, and the series’ handling of its female protagonist, the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” Supergirl may not appeal to all viewers or offer the type of superhero drama certain comic fans are looking for, but the Girl of Steel has gained a dedicated fanbase and offers a take on comic book TV different from many other shows currently airing. A second season would allow Supergirl to iron out the kinks from season 1 and continue to provide a unique take on the superhero genre.
As to when we’ll find out the fate of Supergirl, CBS will be hosting its upfront presentation on May 18th, according to Media Village and it’s likely we’ll learn if Supergirl will receive a second season at that time. Whether the freshman superhero drama will receive the official stamp of approval from the network remains to be seen, but Supergirl certainly deserves a second season.
We’ll keep you updated on Supergirl season 2 as information becomes available.