Why the news of Supergirl’s impending end is so upsetting

Supergirl -- "Immortal Kombat" -- Image Number: SPG519A_0331r.jpg -- Pictured: Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Supergirl -- "Immortal Kombat" -- Image Number: SPG519A_0331r.jpg -- Pictured: Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

The CW’s Supergirl will hang up its cape after the series’ upcoming sixth season, and the news comes as a gut punch to fans everywhere.

All shows must end, even those we love. It’s the hard truth of being a TV fan. But sometimes, the news of a particular series’ impending end stings a bit more than others.

Such is the case with Supergirl. 

The CW’s first female-led superhero series will hang up its proverbial cape following its upcoming sixth season. The announcement of a final season probably doesn’t come as a complete surprise to fans, who’ve watched the show struggle in recent seasons to tell consistent, coherent stories about the characters at its center.

But, whew, it hurts.

Because the thing is, Supergirl is a show that’s utterly unlike anything that exists in the comic book television landscape. A series that’s unabashedly based on hope, optimism, and care for your fellow man feels like it ought to be an automatic premise in the world of superhero shows. But…it’s really not.

As much as we love Barry Allen, Sara Lance, and Jefferson Pierce – and their stories are compelling and valuable ones – they aren’t Kara Zor-El’s, and they rarely encompass the same themes, narratively speaking. Stargirl’s Courtney Whitmore comes closest, probably. But she’s a teenager, who’s just learning how to be a hero.

And to be fair, all of those perspectives are okay, Necessary even. But Kara’s status as a specifically female beacon of hope is important in a dozen hard to quantify ways, and the addition of Superman and Lois to the CW lineup isn’t going to make up for its loss. (As excited as I personally am for that show.) There’s value in not just having that kind of character, but allowing that character to be a woman.

Perhaps this news would sting less if Supergirl hadn’t been consistently drifting further from that central premise in its most recent seasons, as well. But the decision to put Kara and Lena at direct odds with each other even as the show reframed its narrative around Lex Luthor as its primary antagonist has unfortunately left Supergirl feeling as though its lost its way as a series.

Season 5 was a particular slog, as it sidelined not just Kara, but the show’s other central women such as Nia and Alex, in favor of an overcomplicated plot involving the dangers of technology that was both erased and rebooted halfway through by Lex’s plan to take over the world. (And Crisis on Infinite Earths.) That is…not what I watch Supergirl for, is all I’m saying.

With Kara and Lena’s long-awaited reunion – or, at least, rocky initial conversations about the wrong that the two women have done to each other over the show’s run – at the end of the season, it finally felt like just maybe the show was finding its way back to its character-driven roots. The idea that we’ll only get a single season to right the ship, and do justice to all these women and their relationships with one another feels kind of like a slap in the face.

On the plus side, with season 6 months away from even filming – let alone airing – the powers that be have plenty of time to plot out a proper farewell season for the Girl of Steel. One that involves a story that’s specifically about Kara’s journey, her relationships with the women around her, and the ways they lift each other up, even as they battle the bad guys.

Those are not just thes stories these characters deserve – they’re the ones the audience deserves to see.

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Supergirl will return for its final season in 2021.