Supergirl’s Man Problems

Supergirl’s Man Problems

Tonight is part one of the finale for the second season, and while I’m excited to see Cat Grant again and I hope she knocks some sense into Kara, I’m worried. See, the show has a bit of a problem. While I’ve been vocal all season about the man trouble with Supergirl, I’m not the only one who’s noticed.

Let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

The Marty Stu

February 28, Alex Cranz of Gizmodo/io9 said that Supergirl Has a Mon-El Problem

… before the term was bastardized to mean any highly capable female character, a Mary Sue often referred to characters inelegantly inserted into existing narratives and feel as though they were written by a very young writer—like ones who usually indulge in penning fanfiction.

And Mon-El is starting to feel that way…

March 10, Amy Oates of Creators.co explained Why “Supergirl” needs to fix its Mon-El problem

Besides the all too troubling overtone of a white male love interest replacing a black one without much ado, Mon-El hasn’t done much to show he’s a good partner for Kara.

He’s self-admittedly misogynistic, telling Winn in the latest episode, “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk”, that “life was easier when I objectified women”. He has no real interest in saving the world – only impressing Kara and protecting her (something she needs no help with). And his complete reverse set of morals to Kara and his failure to treat her as an equal has set him up as the equivalent to a space frat boy.

March 14, Kylie and Gretchen of the Fandomentals stated Mon-El is Supergirl’s Kryptonite

He’s a privileged white male from a toxic culture with a need to reform his toxic mindset. His arc is ‘douchebag becomes a decent guy’, to put it crassly. Which is…fine, we guess? It’s not a bad story to tell, even if pretty stale at this point. But this season already has an arc concerned with breaking the cycle of violence, overcoming an ingrained toxic environment, and shedding problematic cultural frameworks: M’gann.

… we feel compelled to ask exactly what Mon-El contributes to this narrative that is not otherwise dealt with by any of the other arcs that touch on this same topic. His own arc does specifically involve sexism and entitlement, but is that enough to justify his inclusion, especially when this aspect gets buried under his role as Kara’s love interest?

M’gann’s plot vanished into the night as she heroically sacrificed herself, by the way.

The Musical Hit the Wrong Notes

And it only got worse!

March 23, Valerie Anne of Autostraddle posted that The “Supergirl” Musical Crossover Cemented Its White Bread Mon-El Problem

At the beginning of the episode, Kara literally told Barry that Mon-El was her “nothing.” She was still angry at him for lying about being a murderous prince, and nothing had transpired to make that change. At the end of the musical story within the regular story, Iris and Mon-El kiss Barry and Kara awake, respectively. True Love’s Kiss or whathaveyou. And just like that, Kara forgave Mon-El. Totally forgiven, with a quick little, “Never lie to me again or I’ll kill you! Teehee!” Just because the Music Meister said so? Because everything is easier in a musical?

… The stated purpose of the Music Meister was that he saw two people in different universes who happen to know each other and were having relationship troubles, so he wanted to bring them together to force them into True Love’s Kiss to remind them — and I quote — “Love is about letting yourself be saved.” Which I feel fairly certain is not what love is about? At least not only. At least not always. When he left I was a little surprised no one sang, “Well the battle’s done, and we kinda won?”

March 27, Caroline Siede of the AV Club posted that Supergirl has a Mon-El problem  (heard that before!)

… Mon-El is not a character worthy of as much time as Supergirl has given him this season … He’s not only filled the hole left by Cat Grant, but sometimes pushed into the narrative place of James, Alex, and J’onn too. In fact, at times it feels like Mon-El is a co-lead of the series.

I don’t think the rise of Mon-El comes from a malicious place in the writer’s room, although it does have the unfortunate side effect of centering a white male lead in a show that used to focus on women and feature an interracial relationship…

But it’s not just that!

The list goes on and on:

Okay. What does this mean?

Basically, We Don’t Like Mon-El

Actually, its more than that. We don’t want him.

TV Guide, just about the most mainstream you can find, said that the reason Kara keeps Mon-El around is that she’s lonely. Her sister finally has found love. James and Winn are busy being vigilantes. J’onn had M’gann for a while, before she vanished. Cat was gone.

But Mon-El the puppy was there, and she was again the last daughter of Krypton and she was alone. So she clung to the one thing there for her. And yes, that’s remarkably stupid, while still being depressingly realistic.

Still. The show has floundered this year, and all signs point back to our frat boy, slave owning, man whore moron. Mon-El.

What Does This Have To Do With Lesbians?

Two big issues: limited screen time and the misrepresentation of healthy relationships.

It’s one thing to shortchange Alex and Maggie for James or J’onn or even Winn. They’ve all been there since day one. But to cut out everyone’s time for Mon-El, the most boring of them all, who reinforces terrible relationship values, is deplorable. The Valentine’s episode barely gave Alex and Maggie time, when the two plots could have been interwoven.

It’s almost like there are two shows. There’s the romance/cop drama with Alex and Maggie, and then there’s a stereotypical sexist romcom with Kara and Mon-El. Kara could have had a respectful relationship and been on double dates with Alex and Maggie. Or Kara could have gotten increasingly jealous of her sister and unconsciously sabatoged her relationship.

In short, the lesbians and all characters on the show suffer from the Mon-El problem. And if this show falls, it will be a long time before a mainstream show picks up a lesbian relationship again.

But there’s that other problem, the one of an unhealthy relationship. How can we laud a show for a realistic lesbian relationship while it presents what is essentially a man-child hounding a strong woman until she gives in as ‘true love?’ It sticks in your craw when you reflect on the disparity. It’s just uneven and uncomfortable.

So yes. Mon-El puts our queer hearts and our representation at risk.

He needs to leave.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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