One of the biggest failures of Supergirl — both on CBS and The CW — has been the writing of the main character, Kara and her love interests. She’s had two noteworthy romantic interests, and now William.
Supergirl, now in season 5, has thrived when Kara has been single (see: season 1 and season 4, though season 1 still had some romantic issues with James Olsen, Kara’s first love interest). Kara has been free to be the best hero she could be, not being held back by the unhealthy ideas of relationships that those who write her have.
Throughout the show, we’ve seen Kara with two major love interests: James and Mon-El. While one didn’t make it out of the pre-relationship phase, the other did, and it’s safe to say that one was 100 times worse. With Kara potentially getting a new love interest this season, it’s time to look back at just how drastically the writing has failed when it comes to Kara’s love life.
James Olsen on ‘Supergirl’ season 1
The original Supergirl love interest, James Olsen, was introduced on the show as the established best friend of Clark Kent AKA Superman, who was sent to look over Kara as she began her own hero’s journey. Plus, he had the opportunity to further his career at CatCo, so it all really worked out the best for him. This is without a doubt the most healthy long-term love interest Kara has had, but even their story had some critical flaws.
For one, the introduction of (one of my favorite Supergirl characters) Lucy Lane and the rekindling of the romance between Lucy and James kind of left Kara on the outside. It worked, for the most part, as Kara focused more on her work as Cat’s assistant and Supergirl, but it definitely took a toll on Kara. She became someone she didn’t like for a short period of time because of her feelings for James and jealousy over his relationship with Lucy.
But worst of all, was James leading her on while he was in a committed relationship. He was having an emotional affair with Kara while telling Lucy he was all in, treating both women terribly to keep them both in his life. In the end, he chose Kara, even though we never actually got to see how these two would have operated as a couple (because, as we were told, they were just “too perfect” for one another… oh, The CW).
So while James was Kara’s healthiest love interest, it doesn’t mean they had a healthy story building up to a potential relationship. For the sake of drama, James became someone not good enough for Kara Danvers, and never got the chance to rectify his mistakes.
(Also worth mentioning that on Supergirl season 1, we saw Winn, Kara’s best friend, deal with his romantic feelings for her, kissing her without consent and then getting mad like a 12-year-old boy for not choosing him because he was the “nice guy” and she liked James… yikes.)
Mon-El, Kara’s love interest from Supergirl seasons 2 and 3, is the worst of Kara’s canon love interests. I’m going to keep this short because, as anyone who has read my past articles knows, I’ve been very vocally against Mon-El, especially when it comes to his relationship with Kara. Let’s start with the quote, directly from Kara’s lips, as she was “whammied” to reveal her inner truths on Supergirl season 3, episode 15.
Kara: You’re right. We have been through a lot together. Like that time when you promised you wouldn’t leave the DEO, and instead you ran off, you got wasted. You were reckless, selfish, you lied, and you didn’t apologize. […] And then there was the time I got you a job at CatCo. I vouched for you at my place of employment. And then you had Eve do all of your work for you, and then you screwed her in the closet. You didn’t apologize for that. And, shocker, I apologized to you for trying to make you into a better person. […] No, I don’t think you do get it. I don’t think you get that I gave my heart to a lying jackass, who was unaware of his behavior towards me, who disrespected me at every turn, and now is this reformed person who, what, he wants to reminisce about the good times?
And, for those who want to claim that Kara only said these things because she was whammied and wanted to hurt Mon-El and didn’t mean what she said, let’s take a look at a quote from later in the same episode.
Mon-El: You were whammied by the psychic attack.
Kara: Yes, that’s true, but I… the things I said… I thought I had dealt with my feelings about us. But when we were in this episode, it made me realize that our relationship was not perfect. You know, maybe I… I knew that deep down. But especially when you were gone, I was so busy missing you and romanticizing us… I do feel a big weight off my shoulders. So, in a way, I’m grateful that it happened. I’m just really sorry that it took a Martian attack to make it come out. And I’m sorry it was so… brutal.
The relationship between Kara and Mon-El was so toxic, it really made the future of Supergirl uncertain. Like, if Supergirl season 4 hadn’t been as amazing as it turned out to be, it’s likely that Supergirl wouldn’t still be planning to continue for years to come. Kara had to become a completely different character to play the role of Mon-El’s love interest (on her own show!) and the writing was more worried about establishing Mon-El as a hero than showcasing Kara and everything she’s capable of. The number of times that Mon-El had to save a weakened Supergirl… well, is too damn high.
Mon-El treated her like garbage before their relationship began (because true love is all about a boy being mean to you, I guess), and on Supergirl season 3, he again treated Kara as less than she deserved while leading her on with his feelings for her while being married. He called her selfish for being a hero, lied to her repeatedly, and basically tortured her by flaunting his wife when he showed up again in National City.
I don’t care what Mon-El did to “honor” Kara and her legacy in the future, this was a relationship that never should have happened and was so poorly written from the very start. Mon-El was never a good enough person for Kara — being a slave owner and putting her down constantly in the beginning — and while his story was supposed to be about breaking free of the toxicity and immoral standards of his life on Daxam, that never happened. All he did was drag Kara down along with him for the second half of Supergirl seasons 2 and 3.
William Dey on ‘Supergirl’ season 5
Kara’s newest (seemingly) romantic interest, as seen in the trailer below, is a Supergirl season 5 addition, William Dey, who has proven himself all but pointless to the overarching story (and in general, let’s be real). While it’s not clear if this will extend beyond a date, it’s just another example of the Supergirl writers completely failing to write Kara’s love life.
When William was introduced, he was “undercover” to take down Andrea (and, by extension, Leviathan) for his best friend’s death. He treated Kara like absolute garbage, all in the name of his cover, and put down Kara and her work at CatCo numerous times. He treated her with disrespect, something we haven’t really seen at CatCo from anyone since Snapper Carr on Supergirl season 2. Sure, it was all in the name of his cover, but looking back, treating Kara terribly wasn’t really necessary.
Two out of three of Kara’s love interests have treated her poorly from the start, and with little to no growth, they’re suddenly different people who Kara is spontaneously thrust into some sort of relationship with. With William, it’s even worse because there’s been no hint of a relationship story-wise, and their date comes after they stood too close together for five seconds and suddenly made it awkward (for no reason, as there was no history or hint there to make it anything more than two colleagues interacting). As far as I’m aware, that’s not really how romantic relationships work, now is it?
It’s entirely likely a relationship with William and Kara won’t happen, and hopefully this date will be the beginning and end of that story. We’ll just have to see how it goes on Supergirl season 5, episode 12.
However, this is just the most recent example of a pattern where the writers put Kara with men who don’t respect her, treat her terribly, and where the romance came out of nowhere for the sake of giving Kara a love interest. It’s not necessary, and the Supergirl writers have proven they don’t know how to write Kara in a successful, healthy relationship… so maybe just keep her single until you figure it out. It’s clearly a fault with the writing as both Arrow and The Flash had their main couple set (maybe not together, at the time, in Oliver and Felicity’s case) by the 100th episode.
Is it because Kara’s a woman? Probably. I mean, until season 4, the writers seemed to have forgotten what their show was supposed to stand for.
Even with Lena, it wouldn’t work right now
The fan-favorite, non-canon coupling of Kara Danvers and Lena Luthor has been talked about (online) non-stop since Lena’s introduction on Supergirl season 2, but unfortunately, even that relationship is in a place where, if the writers ever did decide to go there, much would need to change.
Lena and Kara’s fight throughout Supergirl season 5 has driven Lena to some dark places, and honestly, she’s done some pretty unforgivable things to Kara; however, Kara being the Paragon of Hope, she sees the best in everyone, and when Lena comes back to the good side, I see Kara accepting her back with a warm embrace, even if there’s a lot work to be done.
Though this is a non-canon couple that I do not personally ship, and it may likely never happen (as the writers seem so against it), even the concept of romance between them at all in the future could now easily be deemed unhealthy after everything that has happened this season. Lena’s going to need to work hard for redemption after this story is over, just to be friends with Kara again, much less anything else. And unless/until that happens with years of storytelling to make up for it, this too is not a good enough relationship for Kara Danvers.
Kara deserves love, but not what the ‘Supergirl’ writers think love is
Kara deserves all of the happiness in the world, that’s absolutely true. She deserves to be a Pulitzer-winning journalist, Supergirl, and to have a loving significant other.
There are plenty of relationships on television that are written well, are healthy, and the female character is the lead of the show. Look at Sutton and Richard on Freeform’s The Bold Type as an example. He respects her, treats her right, but they still deal with their fair share of drama and emotional turmoil (without him degrading her or the relationship becoming toxic).
That’s the type of love Kara deserves. It’s not necessary to make Kara fall for a man who is awful to her when she first meets them or for her to fall for a man in another relationship. It’s really not that hard to introduce someone who treats Kara right from the start, and their relationship builds from friendship to romance naturally. By putting Kara in these unhealthy relationships with men who don’t deserve her, it counters what we’re supposed to believe about Kara. Why would a literal superhero be with someone who doesn’t treat her right? As if.
Give Kara Danvers a decent love interest!
Supergirl season 5 continues Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW!