English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Supergirl

Super Authors

I know that the superpower everyone wanted when they were growing up was to have amazing writing skills, right? No? Well even if that wasn’t the case for you, you still have to appreciate the skills of the ones who did manage to get that superpower, and in order to do this, we will take a more in depth look at episode fourteen from season one of Supergirl.

One thing that is really cool about this episode is that it was both written and directed by women, and out of the entire first season, only two episodes had a female director. One of the writers is Yahlin Chang, and she is a very prolific television writer who worked on several shows including ER and Shades of Blue. She is currently a co-executive producer on The Handmaid’s Tale which has become one of the best dramas currently on television. Another one of the writers is Michael Grassi, and he has worked on quite a few shows that you might have heard of including Degrassi: The Next Generation, Lost Girl, and Riverdale. It is amazing to see how a show that most people would write off as being superficial or frivolous entertainment actually has some incredible depth and talent to it when people choose to look past the surface.

One thing that stands out to me about the writing of the show is how current it is. Now what do I mean by that? I mean that throughout all the episodes the audience is constantly being thrown pop culture, history, and celebrity references that we can relate to on a personal level. From talking about binge watching Netflix to gossiping about celebs such as Jennifer Lawrence, the authors use references such as these to help the audience become more engaged with the story and to relate to the characters by seeing how much they act and talk like we do. For example, Kara tells her sister Alex that she’s always wanted to catch a corrupt cop ever since they binge watched the television show The Wire together. Now I think most people can agree that at some point or another, we all want to escape into the stories we see and get to experience them right along with the rest of the characters. It’s references like these that are thrown throughout the dialogue that help to shape how the audience views the plot and how we experience the action along with the characters on screen.

The actors may be the ones saying the words, but its Supergirl’s writers who are the true heart of the show. They painstakingly craft together scenes and dialogue in such a way as to make the words feel like a conversation that we as the audience get to be a part of. They are the real superheroes.

Writers: The Real Superheroes

Diversity on Screen

When I was trying to figure out what to write about for this blog post, I honestly was stumped. I have a hard time looking past the surface entertainment of a television show and seeing the deeper topics and ideas that these expose audiences to. So it got me thinking about what makes Supergirl so important? Is it because it’s a part of the comic book world and has a huge fan base. Is it the feminist plot lines, and how it shows the strength and talent that can be found in many types of women? Maybe, but the main thing that stuck out to me was what the show is doing for the LGBTQ community.

Alex Danvers played by Chyler Leigh

In the middle of season two, Alex Danvers came out as lesbian which was a huge deal for many fans of the show. Normally, audiences don’t see these kinds of stories in comic book and superhero television because of the traditional target audience of these types of shows, but this show has really been helping to bring both gender and sexual diversity to mainstream television. Because of it, Supergirl has had a very positive impact, and Alex’s story of acceptance and growth has resonated with so many viewers. Actress Chyler Leigh who portrays Alex has even shared some of the many responses that she has had because of this. “Fans in their thirties and forties have told her that watching her helped them ‘put the pieces of the puzzle together,’ to the extent that Alex’s dialogue has given them a model of what to say and expect in their own coming out.” What’s even more amazing is that Leigh is using her platform to not only bring diversity to the television screen, but also to help build a community and support system around the fans of this character.

In addition to this, it was announced earlier this year that Supergirl would introduce its first ever transgender character to the show in the upcoming fourth season. This comes at a time when transgender actors and actresses are not really receiving as much recognition as they deserve, and they are having to fight to get acting jobs. Because of shows like Supergirl, we have started to see much more gender and sexual diversity on screen. It will only continue to get better as they keep on creating that space and supporting the actors and actresses as they work towards creating a more diverse and accepting television landscape.


Works Cited



Lights. Camera. ACTION!

As the acclaimed actress Julianne Moore once said, “People think that the directors direct actors. No. Really, what the director’s doing is directing the audience’s eye through the film.” As members of an audience, we often focus more on the actors and actresses that we see on screen rather than the directors and cinematographers that make the movies and tv shows we watch. These people are an integral part in creating the mood of a show while also engendering feelings and deciding how the audience will perceive the things that happen on the screen. To explore this idea further, let’s look at episode six from season one of Supergirl.


One thing that is evident from the very beginning is how quick the shots are. We see the camera changing viewpoints every time someone talks. Also, any time that someone moves or changes position within the scene the camera will move with them. During scenes like the ones in the coffee house at the beginning, the camera is constantly jumping back and forth between the two people talking, Kara and James. The camera is almost never still unless it is in moments when we are given new crucial information that we need time to process. An example of this is when Alex finds out that her boss knows something about her father’s death, and we can see how still the camera is in this moment.

The placement of the camera is also something that should be noted. The quick moving takes are often shot as a close-up of the person talking, or over the shoulder of the other person in the conversation. Throughout the episode, we feel as if we are up close and personal with the actors rather than far away. It is extremely evident that the director wants to make us feel like we are a part of the action that is happening on the screen. They want us to dodge the punches along with Kara and feel the wind on our face just like she does.

In regards to the lighting, the show as a whole is very brightly lit. The only things that are shown in a darker light are places like the DEO and people such as Kara’s evil aunt because these things are shrouded in mystery or evil. Because of the nature of the genre, it wants to convey a very clearly defined difference between good and evil, light and dark. It also wants to give the audience a sense of hope and optimism that good will win in the end which cannot be achieved with depressing and dismal lighting.

In conclusion, the director and cinematographer of a show have a lot of power in deciding how characters are perceived and how the plot of a show progresses. Through the use of lighting and the many different styles of camera angles, the audience can gain key insights into the different characters and what is going on around them.

Grl Pwr

Who run the world? Girls!” These immortal words from Queen Bey are becoming more and more true in today’s society with each passing year. We see women becoming increasingly more involved and holding more positions of power and influence in society than ever before. This cultural shift in society’s landscape is especially evident when looking at gender representation within mainstream television.

Queen Bey

Let’s look at the show Supergirl for examples of this. In analyzing the gender landscape of this show, we can see that the majority of main characters are female. The female characters are the ones behind the wheel of the show, driving the plot forward in each episode. They are the characters that we are most likely to laugh or cry with, cheer for, and sympathize with. It’s interesting to see exactly how many women there are in leading character roles, and not just the number of characters but also the type of people on the show as well. This show is overflowing with strong, powerful women who have visions for the future and a determination to make their vision become a reality.

The protagonist of the show is Kara, Superman’s female cousin, who is one of the most tenacious characters on the show with a will of steel. Her unshakeable faith and heart for others have made viewers fall in love with her from the very beginning. Her boss, Cat Grant, is a media tycoon and probably the most influential person in National City. She is a determined and ruthless businessperson who helps to shape the narrative of the show and write Supergirl’s story for the public. Without Cat Grant, it is quite possible that there wouldn’t even be a Supergirl to love. Then there’s Alex, Kara’s foster sister. Her decisions have laid the foundation for Kara’s life and opportunities up to this point. Without her, Kara would never have found the extensive support system for fighting crime and locking up aliens that the Department of Extra-Normal Operations has given her. And lastly, what kind of hero doesn’t have an evil enemy? Kara’s comes in the form of her Aunt Astra, who is a criminal mastermind from outerspace. As the seasons go on, we are able to see how much this character really affects the plot with both her actions and her mere presence on Earth.

Now, don’t get me wrong and think that this is an all female show, because there are several significant male characters. They are present but do much more reacting on the fringes to situations rather than instigating them. For example, Superman has been delegated to merely a background reference, Winn is a lovable sidekick and friend, and James is Kara’s mentor and unrequited love interest.

With the changing culture of society and the push to see more females in influential positions, Supergirl has stepped up as one of the main shows to watch as one of the shows pushing for change and helping to change the perceptions of viewers across the country.

The Battle of the Supers

So I’m about halfway through the first season of Supergirl, and it is truly eye opening to see the depth and complexity behind a show when I’m not watching it purely for entertainment purposes. One doesn’t normally think a show like Supergirl would deal with heavier cultural topics, but it handles it in such a seamless way that the viewer is often unaware of how controversial most of these topics are.

The theme that really pushed its way to the forefront during the first three episodes is that no matter what industry a woman is in, whether it’s mass media or being a super hero, she will inevitably be compared to her male counterparts, and in order to be considered their equal, she has to do everything better and more efficiently than the men do.

Supergirl vs. Superman

This is most evident in the almost constant comparison and references to Superman that are in these early episodes. It seems that no matter what she does, Kara is constantly being compared to her cousin, and is even expected to be the same type of superhero, rather than being her own person. A perfect example of this is when Kara is very upset that the media is cracking down so harshly on her early mistakes in her superhero career, such as labeling her as an eco-terrorist when a firefighting job goes wrong. Her cousin made a lot of mistakes early on and was still able to maintain a perfect image, while Kara receives a great deal of backlash as she tries to get past the learning curve. Her boss Cat makes an excellent point though in episode two when she says, “Every woman worth her salt knows that we have to work twice as hard as a man to be thought of as a half as good.” No matter the field, women tend to have a harder job, as they have to push past the barriers of stereotypes and comparisons to be seen as equals in a largely patriarchal society.

Cat Grant = BOSS

Another example of this is in episode three when Kara faces the villain Reactron. Everyone around her from her sister to James Olsen, Superman’s best friend, is telling her that she is incapable of defeating Reactron, solely because Superman was unable to do it. Everyone is trying to judge her by comparing her to her cousin, but Kara only wants the chance to prove herself.

Just like Kara, the show as a whole wants to be able to show the world that it can stand on its own without relying on Superman to save the day. This is extremely relevant to what is happening in today’s culture because women in the workforce, and especially in television, are tired of being judged by the yardstick of men and never being able to measure up. It’s a battle of the sexes, as we try to see which one will end up dictating our cultural norms.

Supergirl 2.0

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Glass, and I am a second year business administration major, and I expect to graduate in May of 2021… if all goes as planned.

This is me!

My last English course was AP English literature my senior year of high school, so I haven’t been in an actual English class in well over a year. This will be my first and last English course at Tech, but I am excited to get to experience one of my favorite subjects in a whole new way through the WOVEN teaching method. I loved analyzing literature and digging into the meaning behind the words that we read, but I feel that it’s time I expose myself to new and different challenges that I can’t get from a traditional English class.

When it comes to the forms of communication, I really enjoy the written form. My favorite type of this though would have to be the less traditional forms of written communication. Most people picture a five-paragraph essay when they think of writing, but I picture journaling, sonnet writing, and poetry because it is easier to convey emotion through the words while also having some structure to it. The mode that I struggle with the most would have to be oral communication because I like to have perfect versions of things, and there is only one chance with oral speaking. This semester, I hope to become more comfortable with oral speaking and communicating my thoughts clearly and confidently.

In all honesty, I did not have much experience with watching television series until my first year of college. I was too busy in high school with extracurriculars and schoolwork to be able to have a lot of time to watch TV, and I’m the kind of person that likes to watch an entire series in order so that I know what is going on. I’ve watched Friends and The Office in their entirety, along with most of Grey’s Anatomy, and I look forward to being exposed to many new shows as a result of this class.

This semester, I have chosen to review the show Supergirl. I love the DC universe and am a huge fan of The Flash and The Arrow, so I want to experience a new character in this universe. It is about Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El, one of the last surviving Kryptonians, who arrived on Earth twenty-four years after her cousin. I also feel that Supergirl is a really interesting one to review since most superhero tv shows and movies are geared towards a more male audience, and it will be interesting to see how the writers and producers find that balance between a mostly male audience while also representing women in an accurate way. This is also a character that has been around for decades, and I want to compare how Supergirl has evolved over the years and how it continues to adapt to the changing cultural landscape of mainstream television.

The New Supergirl

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