My problem with Supergirl’s professionalism

By CATHERINE PALMER | April 27, 2017


Public Domain As part of her alter ego, Supergirl works as a journalist for CatCo Media.

As a follow-up to my last column about why Supergirlhas relationship trouble, this week I’m taking on the other issue that’s been dragging the show down this season: Kara’s career. In season one, Kara (Melissa Benoist) started as an assistant to the high-strung, demanding, witty and wonderfully saucy Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), CEO of CatCo Worldwide Media.

Thanks to Flockhart’s nuanced portrayal, Cat served as both a scene-stealing comic relief queen and as a tough but caring mentor to Kara in her professional life, her love life and, perhaps unwittingly, in her secret superhero life.

Cat had an undeniably powerful and positive impact on Kara’s personal development in season one. Sometimes, especially early on, she seemed like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, and Kara did her fair share of complaining behind Cat’s back.

But as Kara got to know Cat better and moved past her prickly exterior, both she and the audience began to understand that Cat was simply trying to shape Kara into the leader she always knew Kara could be. At the end of the season, Cat pushed Kara to move on from her assistant position and told her pick whatever job she wanted within the company.

Kara realized that her calling was to be a reporter, since she’d always had a passion for helping others. In a heartwarming moment, Kara was shocked to learn that Cat actually had her in mind as a reporter ever since she’d interviewed Kara for the assistant position two years ago.

As a viewer, the decision to make Kara a reporter seemed like a logical next step and one that I’d hoped would offer more opportunities for personal growth.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case for much of this season. Flockhart declined to return as a series regular this season when the show transitioned from CBS to the CW and production consequently moved from LA to Vancouver.

She appeared in the first two episodes of the season but has since left a hole in Kara’s life, which the show hasn’t really addressed. She hasn’t been able to influence Kara’s development as a reporter, and Kara has unfortunately shown a flagrant lack of respect for any journalist other than Cat.

Kara’s boss this season is Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez), who is gruff, no-nonsense and harsh but very dedicated to his craft and to helping Kara. He is unafraid to tell Kara when her ideas need to be more fleshed out or when her articles are poorly written. He may sound mean, but he is never wrong, and he always accepts Kara’s work post-revision.

Kara, on the other hand, without fail takes Snapper’s criticism horribly and talks back to him, even though she has literally zero experience as a reporter. Instead of taking the opportunity to learn from him, she just makes painful attempts to prove him wrong and then begrudgingly makes all the corrections he’d asked for, as if she were doing him a favor.

She acted entitled from day one. In doing so, she not only disrespected Snapper but also the field of journalism she professes to care so much about. If she really cared about being a reporter, she would want her stories to be the best they could be and not let her ego get in the way.

In a recent episode, an anti-alien organization known as Cadmus began kidnapping aliens living in National City with the goal of sending them back to space. Kara pitched the story to Snapper in order to warn unsuspecting aliens to be on the lookout, but she couldn’t cite her source, the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), since it’s a secret government agency.

Snapper, therefore, had no choice but killed the story since CatCo couldn’t risk reporting fake news and causing potentially unwarranted mass hysteria. Kara, feeling morally obligated to report the story, published a blog post even though she, her sister Alex and the rest of the DEO ended up taking down Cadmus just a few hours later.

Snapper was forced to fire Kara since she went behind his back. However, he said he really believed in her potential and was clearly sorry to see her go, offering Kara the respect she’d never offered in return.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Kara’s reporter arc this season was watching it as a former News & Features Editor for The News-Letter. I was never harsh, but I would definitely give writers feedback. If they weren’t made aware of what they were doing wrong, they might keep making the same mistakes and never reach their full potential.

Kara never seemed to appreciate that, and yet, as the protagonist, she is much more likely to get an audience’s sympathy. Snapper has been painted as a villain of sorts by many viewers.

That could not be further from the truth, though. Snapper is an excellent editor, and Kara was an obnoxious and unreliable writer. Trust me, I’m sure I would like Kara as a person, but I would have found her incredibly frustrating to work with as a reporter.

Thankfully, Kara finally changed her tune this past Monday in an episode entitled “Ace Reporter,” in which she independently investigated a biomedical company.

A former employee who wanted to expose the danger behind the company’s new product approached her, but right after he revealed that the product had never been properly tested, the car in which they were talking blew up. Kara was unscathed, but her informant died.

Shaken but more determined than ever, Kara worked tirelessly to uncover the truth and offered her findings to Snapper, who was writing a story about the product’s release for CatCo. But it’s what she said to him that really showed her growth. She apologized for her behavior and admitted that she “learned a lot” from him.

“And the biggest thing I’ve learned,” she said, “is that it’s not the reporter that matters, it’s the truth that matters.”

About time, Kara! Fortunately for her, Snapper clearly appreciated her newfound maturity and commitment. To Kara’s surprise, he shared the byline of the article with her and rehired her as a reporter. I still don’t understand why the show took so long to get Kara to this point, but I’m glad she’s finally on the right track.

It’ll be especially interesting to see what happens when she finally reunites with Cat in a few weeks. Flockhart is set to reprise her role for the final two episodes of this season, airing Monday, May 15 and May 22.

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