Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: Based on the DC Comics character, the show was created by Ali Adler (Chuck), Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash), and Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow, The Flash), who wrote the pilot and executive produce along with Sarah Schecter (Arrow, The Flash). Glen Winter (Smallville) directed the pilot.
The Cast & How You Know Them: Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist (Glee) along with Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness), Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal), Jeremy Jordan (Smash), David Harewood (Homeland), and Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy).
The Premise: Superman’s cousin Kara, sent to earth as a pre-teen, is now a twentysomething assistant to a media mogul who decides it’s time to embrace her powers and become a hero.
What Works: I love the overt feminism of this show, the way it effortlessly passes the Bechdel test almost immediately, and the way it has its characters make some important points so directly in the pilot: that a young female superhero is a great role model for girls, that critics will say she’s a lesser version of Superman, that the word “girl” itself will be taken by some to be demeaning and by others to be empowering. It’s also fun, and sets up some interesting, very contemporary themes — immigration, branding — alongside its heroic antics. Melissa Benoist is a great lead, making Kara both powerful and emotionally vulnerable, and the supporting cast is also strong, especially Calista Flockhart as Kara’s difficult but powerful and super-competent boss. (Kara’s sister is also smart and complex, and I love how many different kinds of strong women we already have here.)
What Doesn’t: While the first moments of the show did a good job explaining Kara’s basic background, by the end of the episode I (as someone who has never read the comics nor seen a Superman movie) was a little lost in the mythology, but I was enjoying it enough that I wasn’t too upset. The pilot was a little slow at times, but it seems to have a clear sense of what it wants to be, so I’m very hopeful about this one.
Our Favorite Line: “Use the lesser card stock.”
You Might Like This if you’ve been wanting a feminist, somewhat sunnier version of other Berlanti superhero shows, like Arrow and The Flash.
(Photo courtesy of CBS.)