Kathryn Graham: Deconstructing Supergirl & Homophobia

by Kathryn Graham

*** CAUTION! Mild spoilers for Supergirl if you are 11 weeks behind. ***

Last week, I was perusing a comment section on TV Guide regarding Alex & Maggie’s breakup on Supergirl. One fella, let’s call him Major Homophobe, said he was glad it was over. The show ‘isn’t about lesbians’ and now they could ‘get back to what it’s really about’.

It’s a typical criticism: I don’t watch this show for kissing! I watch for punching! There’s too much damn romance in this show!

Funny how it’s only mentioned when the couple are same sex.

I have news for for the Major. The show he loves is about both punching and kissing no matter who’s doing it, and I can show you how.

Supergirl follows classic structure with A, B, and C stories.

A Story – Supergirl and her allies fight some evil-doer(s). This will most often center Supergirl herself.

B Story – Conflict in someone’s romantic life, family, or friendships. Up close and personal.

C Story – Something short, sweet, and sometimes silly. Kind of a wild-card. Defined by having the least amount of screen time.

Specific Examples:

Season 1 Episode 12 – Bizarro

A Story – Maxwell Lord tries to ruin Supergirl’s reputation by releasing an evil Bizarro version of her on National City.

B Story – Kara navigates her budding romance with Adam under the watchful eye of his mother (and her boss): Cat Grant.

C Story – Winn helps James come to terms with his feelings for Kara.

Season 2 Episode 9 – Supergirl Lives

A Story – Without her powers, Supergirl must fight to free herself, Mon-El, and a group of humans before they are sold into slavery.

B Story – Alex blames herself for Supergirl’s capture and tries to break up with Maggie.

C Story – Winn almost dies on a mission with Guardian and needs to find the courage to get back in the field.

All three stories intersect and cross with each other, but they are the main threads.

Romance is typical B-Story. The Major sees it in nearly every show, book, and video game. If it was missing, he’d know something was gone. It’s a part of our lives. It’s important to so many of us. Why wouldn’t it be in our stories?

If you’re like Major, there are only a few options for why you would complain about queer romances ‘taking over’ a show you like:

  • You have no earthly idea how the stories you’re watching work. (Hope this helps.)
  • You hate romance in general – straight, gay, etc – and wish there wasn’t so much of it everywhere. (You have my sympathies.)
  • You’re being disingenuous about your discomfort and/or dislike of queer people. (I see what you’re doing.)

Maybe you didn’t see this before. Heterosexual romances are so ubiquitous that, to you, they’re window dressing. You feel the space queer romances take up because you haven’t encountered them before.

Maybe you, like the Major, are just dodging the fact that you don’t want to see any queer romance because you’re uncomfortable with it.

I’d ask you to consider that discomfort for a minute. If you can put it aside, even for a little while, you might be able to connect with stories and people in ways you never thought possible. I love Moulin Rouge. It’s a romance about a man and a woman. I don’t love it the way I would with two women as the leads (can someone make this?), but I still enjoy it.

If you still can’t do that, if you’re still uncomfortable, realize that this is how many queer people feel watching every. single. other. show. ever. It’s one show. You’ll be fine. I promise.

If you liked this article, or you’re curious to know more, I suggest hanging with me at ClexaCon in Las Vegas this April 5th – 9th! It’s a multi-fandom convention focused on queer women in the media. Everyone is welcome to attend. Not only will you have a lot of cool discussions along these lines, but Chyler Leigh, who plays Alex, is going to be there!

Kathryn Graham is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and a Fine Writer Of All Things. Learn more about Kate HERE

Author: Kathryn Graham

Los Angeles-based television writer, TVWriter Contributing Editor, and lover of women. e-mail: kathrynagraham@gmail.com