How the Women of Supergirl are Breaking TV’s Glass Ceiling

The CW
The CW

Television has always been an escape for me. A place to go when my mind needs a break from the worries of day to day life, when I want to go far away from all the current problems in my life and in the world at large. I’ve always been able to count on TV. Always. As much as television still needs to improve on things like diversity and LGBT representation, it has its bright spots and no show has shone brighter this Fall for me than Supergirl.

The recent election in the United States has done a lot to shake my faith in humanity. The results have shown that there are still an overwhelming amount of people out there that aren’t ready to see a woman in power and running a nation. Truth be told, if I start to think about what those election results mean for the future too long I find myself falling down a rabbit hole of despair that I can’t seem to escape. It’s exactly in moments such as this that I need the worlds television can offer up the most.

I need to immerse myself in stories that show me a world I want to live in, a world that treats people with love and respect just the way I believe they should be treated, and a world that empowers women to go out and run things the way I still believe we will one day run this world. This is why now more than ever I’m thankful a show like Supergirl exists and that each week I can get away for an hour to National City. This election has proven just how important it is that we see more representations of strong women on our television screens, and no other show is giving us a more diverse, complex, intriguing group of women at the moment than Supergirl.

Forget about passing the Bechdel test, Supergirl is shattering the glass ceiling each and every week in Season 2. The show’s move from CBS, where the Nancy Drew pilot was notoriously deemed “too female,” to the CW has aided this process quite nicely. It’s clear that a conscious decision has been made by the writers to focus more on the female characters while the men have taken a backseat. In one week alone the show featured women as a superhero, DEO agent, President of the United States, detective, CEO and flame-throwing alien. On Supergirl there are no limits as to what its female characters can and cannot do and the show never shies away from putting the women in charge.

Representation is huge and anyone who will tell you different is lying. It is important to turn on the TV and see yourself represented on that screen. Supergirl’s women do this on many different levels from diversity with its women of color, to showcasing that women can have many different sexual orientations, professions and personalities. All of these are good and all are accepted in this world. For thousands of little girls that tune in to Supergirl each week they are seeing that it’s OK to be smart, it’s OK to be different, it’s OK to not be straight, it’s OK to be strong and it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in. Television is a huge influence on society, especially on our youth, and I can’t think of a show putting out a better message for young girls than Supergirl this year.


However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the show’s message is one that women can do no wrong. One of the best things Supergirl does is write both good AND bad complex female characters. The villains this season, such as Roulette (Dichen Lachman) and The Doctor (Brenda Strong), are far from one note. Their personalities are fully fleshed out and they don’t fall into tired female villain tropes. As a viewer I care just as much about learning what their story is as I do about that of our heroes. These women aren’t black and white caricatures of some evil female up on screen. Supergirl allows for them to have shades of grey that make them seem sympathetic and even good at times.

Supergirl herself stands as a beacon of hope for the people of National City, but Supergirl the show has been a shining star for many this fall TV season. In a world where it seems people are trying to tell women what they can and can’t do, who they can and can’t be and when they can and can’t speak up, Supergirl isn’t listening. We may not all be able to fly or have special powers, but as Kara herself proves time and again, it’s sometimes far more important to believe in yourself, speak up for what’s right and use your smarts to take down the villains.


Are you enjoying the women of Supergirl this season? Sound off and add your thoughts in the comments below.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW and Showcase.