Supergirl seems to enjoy bragging to us how her Earth is the one where we’d rather live, and the most obvious proof of it is that, in her version of 2017, the President of the United States is a woman and a Democrat.
Moreover, at the beginning of the show’s second season, this President grants a blanket amnesty to aliens. This first step reverberates in many ways: by the finale, literally every named employee of the DEO is romantically involved with the “wrong” planet (Kara/Mon-El), the “wrong” life choices (Wynn/Lyra), the “wrong” faction (J’onn/M’gann), or the “wrong” gender (Alex/Maggie).
On top of that, Mon-El gets his father to respect him as a proper adult, Kara gets her boss to respect her as a proper journalist, ordinary human Jimmy Olsen gets the superpowered cast members to respect him as a proper hero, and a Luthor, or all people, gets Kara to respect her as a proper friend. Radical acceptance is the theme of this season.
This need for tolerance reaches a wider scope as the living conditions of aliens in Supergirl‘s Earth are taken as an opportunity to comment on our real world: every villain sees these refugees as a tool to wield instead of individuals to get to know. They’re forced to fight each other, sold as slaves, hunted for money, exploited for their talents, resented for their worlds’ histories, scapegoated by fearmongerers, and threatened several times with genocide.
At the very close risk of turning alien refugees into a political wild card to mean whatever message the episode of the week wants to teach, the screenwriters manage to present a rich and compassionate picture of the immigrant experience. Specifically, the arc that Kara and J’onn go through in unlearning their respective racial hatred against Mon-El and M’gann are one-half of the emotional core of the season.
The other half is Lena and Alex’s journey toward self-respect. This idea that you don’t need to be defined by family (or species) expectations should not sound radical, but we live in radical times. It’s no coincidence that the season’s overarching enemies are a) Cadmus, a paramilitary human-supremacist organization that promotes the ethnic cleansing of Earth; and b) the Daxamites, a totalitarian empire with outdated traditions and no concept of civil rights. The show’s response to that? Resist.
Anti-Trumpism, the hopeful and fearless and mature refusal to see the world in us-vs.-them terms, is what saves the day in every episode of the season. To hammer the point even harder in the viewers’ faces, “Nevertheless, She Persisted” is the title of the last episode, and it’s a perfect choice. In real life, blind allegiance to ill-defined tribal identities is endangering our instinctive connectedness.
Likewise, the characters of Supergirl‘s second season find that they need to be better than their prejudices in order to solve inherited conflicts that they didn’t really choose to be a part of in the first place.
As the girl-power story that it inevitably is, Supergirl was of course expected to represent this breed of progressivism, and it delivers. Rewatch Cat Grant’s speech and feel the tingles: “They come with empty promises and closed fists. They promise to make our world great again, and yet they know nothing about the people who make this world great.”
So true, and so needed in our troubled age.
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