What’s Lacking in Supergirl? Friendships.

Far From the Tree
Photo by Dean Buscher/The CW

When Supergirl first premiered on CBS, I didn’t watch it live. I binge-watched the show last summer, and despite the criticism the show seemed to get when it aired (if I recall correctly), I enjoyed it. I knew when I was watching that it was moving to the CW, so I watched it as if it were a CW show. And it fit. It was a CW show. And sure, some episodes were better or weaker than others, but I enjoyed it. Kara Danvers was adorable, awkward, and simply engaging. She had close friendships and a sweet relationship with her family. It was close, loving, and nice. And, of course, it had Cat Grant.

The move to the CW severely hurt the show. The most obvious part was losing Cat Grant and, with it, a lot of the strong female empowerment. But I’m not going to dwell on that. A lot of people have already discussed that, and there’s no reason I need to rehash it here.

But the part that I missed the most was Kara’s friendships. Somehow, the shift to the CW caused Kara’s close relationships to fade into the background. The parts that made Kara the most fun, endearing, and relatable — considering she’s a super-strong alien that was sent to Earth when she was 12 — seemed to disappear. Winn shifted his job to the DEO, and Kara no longer interacted him unless it was on a case. In fact, his major role in the show seems to be spouting facts about bad guys and trading banter with Alex when she was trying to get information out of him. And despite being promoted, James’ role was somehow minimized in the office. He focused his efforts on being Guardian, which he kept hidden from Kara and later caused friction. They made up, but even then, their relationship was essentially separate with each of them focusing on their own crime fighting. They’re more distanced than I’ve ever seen them.

True, Kara still had her relationship with Alex, but it wasn’t quite the same. Most of Alex’s storylines were focused on her relationship with Maggie — a plot point that was a strength of the season — and left little time for gabbing over pizza and sister TV time. They did cover this in the show and how they weren’t spending the same amount of time together, if I recall, but it just wasn’t the same.

Overall, Kara’s time was just not spent with friends. Gone were the days of potstickers and hanging out at the apartment. Even when they would have a drink at the weird alien bar, usually it was for a mere few moments right before one person was dragged away to have a conversation with someone else or go fight a villain. It just wasn’t the same.

But what about Mon-El and Lana? Didn’t they count as relationships for Kara? I suppose, but I still have my complaints. I’m not going to spend too much time on Mon-El (many people already have debated the good and the bad of Mon-El), and sure, she did get close to him. But that came at a cost. Her time spent with him took time away from characters I felt we’d spent a year or more getting to know. And I never felt her closeness with Lana Luther compared to the closeness she had with James, Winn, and Alex in the first season, perhaps because so much of her stories with Kara were about big bads, and less about actual friendship (beyond a salad here or there).

Now, I don’t know how much of this had to do with the physical move to Vancouver for the second season. Perhaps actors had conflicts or issues with the move, and had to reduce their time on the show. I’m not sure. But even when they were able to put Kara and Winn or James together in a scene, the relationships were just…lacking. It wasn’t the same.

We’re now in season three. With the new season came a renewed hope for these relationships, at least for me. And the season opener actually gave me faith. Oddly, by showing how Kara was pulling away from each of these people in her life, you saw how she used to be close to them. You saw how people missed her, how they were worried about her, how they wanted to help her but weren’t sure how. These people knew the real Kara, and they knew that this version of her was not it. (And let’s be honest, Winn’s concern when it looked like Kara wasn’t going to wake up underwater tugged at the heartstrings.)

The second episode took another step closer. Her heart-to-heart with Alex — and that adorable scoot on the floor before a Danvers sister hug — brought the girls back to their roots. But then again, there was an awkward conversation with Winn when Kara shared her biggest fear and described what happened when she was first sent from Krypton to Earth. I expected Winn, who used to be Kara’s best friend, to immediately feel for her, to give her a hug, to do…something. But he stood, unmoving, an arm’s length away, and the first thing out of his mouth was, “You have to tell Alex and Hank.” It wasn’t until a few lines later that he then tried to comfort her. It seemed like odd behavior for someone who knows her so well and has always been a compassionate character.

I’ll admit: Perhaps I’m being picky. But let’s look at the most recent episode.

Here, Kara was barely even there. We saw her briefly with Alex before her bridal shower, and then she quickly headed to Mars with J’onn. I have no problem with Kara going with J’onn, but it seemed disappointing that in an episode where there was a sister-centric event that we eventually see both Winn and James attend, Kara was nowhere to be seen. Sure, emergencies wait for no one — especially Supergirl — but it was strange. I don’t quite see why they couldn’t have arranged the bridal shower scene to happen after Kara returned (perhaps they just wanted a more dramatic scene with Maggie and her father — which was very well-done, by the way), or waited to do the Mars storyline later in the season, but it seemed like we lost a prime opportunity for closeness and interaction with friends and family.

I’m not saying the show is bad. I still enjoy it. But it’s lacking the heart that it used to. And considering the time we’ve spent getting to know the key players, I want to see them spend time together, share the familiar witty banter, and frankly show that they care about each other in more than a superficial, “be careful” kind of way. Now, whether it will get back to that level, we’ll have to see. I hope they will. But they’ll certainly have to step up their game.


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