Supergirl pulled off a trifecta during its Monday debut with strong ratings, high social media buzz, and positive viewer reactions.
The long-awaited show attracted 12.9 million viewers which makes it the highest rated series premiere this fall. Viewership even grew during the second half-hour which could be a bump from social media reporting:
Everyone should totally watch #Supergirl tonight! I watched the pilot and it's awesome!
— Kenneth (@KenTanudjaja) October 26, 2015
The show follows the same familiar backstory as Clark Kent’s Superman mythology. When baby Kal-El was blasted away from a dying Krypton, his 12-year-old cousin, Kara Zor-El was sent with him in a separate ship, intended to watch over the infant. Her ship was caught in the Phantom Zone where she spent 24-years as Kal-El grew up on earth without her. She didn’t age during her limbo years, and arrived on earth as a pre-teen who was put into the care of the Danvers
Though aware of her powers Kara chose not to use them, blending into society. In the series she is now a young-adult in the employment of an entertainment mogul named Cat Grant, played by Calista Flockhart. When Kara hears her foster sister is trapped on a crashing plane she decides it’s time to claim her heritage. Stretching herself to learn how to use her dormant powers to save the plane, she reveals her existence to the world and to the Department of Extra-Normal Operations.
The premiere blended clean action, a new twist on familiar mythology (though it’s all in the Supergirl comics), and humor. Star Melissa Benoist (Glee, Homeland, The Longest Ride) nearly glows in the role, obviously enjoying her chance to join the current comics’ television canon.
Overwhelming response has been positive, complimenting the show on bringing a flawed, funny, human superhero to TV, who just happens to be a girl.
Super Girl may or may not be good, but I get to DVR and watch it with my 9-year old daughter, so I'm excited
— Love Hyphen (@jmarslandpettit) October 26, 2015
— Luci (@lucianne84) October 26, 2015
you don't know how much earlier I would have gotten into superheroes if i knew that superheroes like supergirl existed
— catherine (@stockholmsliam) October 26, 2015
After the premiere, Benoist appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert where the host asked if she thought the feminist comments were on target. “”Of course, I do. I think it’s great. What’s feminist about it is that it’s for everyone. She has all the same power [Superman] has.” Colbert replied that she’s now going to be a role model.
it's so so important that #Supergirl succeeds. watch it. tweet it. trend it.
— LadyWyn (@tripslady) October 26, 2015
Ironically, during the show, as Kara and her boss try to think of hashtag-worthy names for the elusive new superhero, it’s the abrasive Cat who sets the stage for the series:
Kara: “If we call her Supergirl, something less than what she is, doesn’t that make us guilty of being anti-feminist?
Cat: “What do you think is so bad about ‘girl’? I’m a girl. And your boss. And powerful and rich and hot and smart. So if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you?”
Having grown up with Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman as one of my generation’s icons It is great to see producers do so well with this character and story, and to see the audience respond. I cringe a bit at comments that she is our first female superhero on TV, thinking of the great women hammering out terrific roles on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But as a headliner Benoist seems well-placed to take the role where it needs to go.
The premiere also reveals that when Kara’s ship left the Phantom Zone it brought along the prison that held a slew of nasty supervillains. When it crash landed they were all released on earth, so we can assume some of Kara’s future will involve fighting off these nemeses.
We’ll be watching to see whether the series holds its audience when it loses its Big Bang Theory lead-in, but things are looking good for the continuing domination of the comic series.