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No Longer Our Monster: Supergirl Season 4 review

Supergirl has definitely gotten better this season, but something else has happened. Allow me to elaborate: For the most part, the CW shows have very rigidly stuck to what I like to call the “our monster” trope. Essentially most CW shows are about a type of monster, and the hero is “our own” one of those monsters, fighting for us against their own kind.

In Supergirl, the monsters are aliens, in Smallville the monsters were “meteor freaks”, in The Flash the monsters were “collider metas”, in Black lightning the monsters are “Green Light Babies” and in Arrow, the monsters are highly trained genius outlaws with vast resources. Supergirl seems to have deviated from this formula in an interesting way.

This season, Supergirl isn’t fighting the monsters anymore. In fact, it seems more and more as though *we* are the bad guys, and Supergirl is going to have to find a way to fight against us for a form of justice that includes, rather than excludes, her fellow monsters. This has allowed them to explore a lot of extremely deep and interesting themes.

For instance, the fact that Supergirl and some of the most influential “good” aliens can pass for human, can be paralleled with the concept of “the right kind of immigrant”. Lena Luthor sells “image inducers” (bleaching cream, wigs and the like) that help aliens “pass” and the complex question regarding the use or not of those is tackled.

The actual damage caused by alien attacks in the past and the real fallout is paralleled with the discussion regarding appeals to fear used by extremist groups in the US, and the show is so incredibly sympathetic to agent Liberty and his minions that they at points threatened to be more relatable and worthy of support than Supergirl- especially since the dangers posed by the aliens in this show are pretty exaggerated compared to what the US social hierarchy faces with the increasingly progressive slant towards equality.

When the show finally decided to switch gears, and introduce a truly villainous mastermind, it was done with skill and deftness- and not only introduced a much more interesting portrayal of a familiar Superfamily villain, but also introduced the power of perception manipulation as a powerful tool of the mischievous. I personally welcome this: it’s much better than the bland preaching and pandering that we saw in previous seasons- Supergirl is trying to treat the liberal audience it has so blatantly selected in its early seasons as much more intelligent and capable of handling nuance this time around, and I for one applaud it.

The show isn’t quite “there” yet regarding respect for its’ viewers’ intelligence, however. Therefore, I hope that the performance of this season is good enough to encourage them to stay the course, kick the intelligence level up a notch next season and finally produce a Tv show worthy of unreserved recommendation.


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