It’s been a couple of days since the episode aired and it’s still running circles in my mind. I thought I would have it all out of my system with my lengthy post about Mon-El, but I realized too late that I disregarded many things from the latest episode that bothered me. That’s why I’m coming back to it now.
Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk incited many a fan’s already simmering anger into a hot, white flame. Some of that was because Mon-El (Chris Wood) was EVERYWHERE, and it was annoying. After the show, I actually sat and wondered whether he’s had more screen time than Kara (Melissa Benoist) – I don’t think he did (yet), but he came close. If you don’t see anything wrong with that, let me remind you that the show is called Supergirl, not Krypton Girl & Daxam Boy Saving the World (or alternatively Krypton Girl Cleaning Up Daxam Boy’s Messes as that’s closer to what happens).
Yes, still salty. And not just about the ever-present intergalactic fuckboy (it’s my favorite insult for Mon-El; I’m not sure who coined it, but that person has my everylasting love). Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk should have been a light-hearted comedy with superromantic undertones, but turned into The Manchild Show with superawkward undertones of double standards. How could the powers that be plus writers have messed this up so badly when the premise was so promising? I’m still shaking my head in wonderment.
When I first heard about the Valentine’s Day episode, it was stated that it would center around Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima). They’d have some trouble, but would ultimately celebrate their love for each other. That’s how I remember an early press release. That was weeks before the episode was about to air. I wasn’t superexcited because I already had an inkling that the episode would also include some intense Karamel bonding (because that’s how these things usually go). Still, I wasn’t overly worried either because this first press release stated that Alex and Maggie would be in the middle of this (with possible inclusion of some of Maggie’s backstory which I was and still am dying to see more of).
As the weeks passed, it got more and more obvious that there would indeed be some Karamel, that there was going to be a guy called Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot) raising havoc, but I was still not worried. Sanvers was going strong, I was good.
The episode aired and the collective Sanvers fandom scratched its head: that’s it? There were about, what, nine minutes worth of Sanvers scenes? And you call this ‘centers around’ – whoever thought this up should consult a dictionary sometimes. But, okay, what was there was… very well-acted… some of it was touching, sweet, cute, romantic… not really sexy, though, was it? I mean, even the moment that could have been sexy (Alex donning a sexy black nighty? my heart skipped some beats there, seriously) kinda turned awry because of Maggie’s issues with the romantic holiday. It’s not her fault of course, it was part of the story.
Or maybe, it’s part of a bigger problem the queer fans of the show are becoming aware of now – the double standard regarding heterosexual pairings and homosexual pairings. And the episode was a good example of that, ending as it did with Mon-El climbing on top of Kara without much ado while Maggie and Alex are always shown kissing standing up with all hands accounted for.
Don’t get me wrong, the way Maggie and Alex’s relationship progresses is all shades of adorable and sweet, it makes us all swoon. It’s lovely. But even after ‘Maggie spent the night,’ fans seemed unsure if Alex and Maggie had had sex. I never questioned that because the scene in Supergirl Lives prominently shows an unmade bed and that, dear fellow shippers, translates to sex having been had. But the confusion is there and one has to wonder why. The answer is that the relationship doesn’t really progress beyond the sweet, the adorable – not on the screen. We hardly get to see them kiss, but even when they do they’re not exactly making out.
Now, I know what comes next. The big argument of the ‘family show.’ There have been few instances on Supergirl where people engaged in any kind of romantic or sexual relations, I’m aware of that. The instances where these occured were more comically woven into the storyline with Kara getting and ear- or eye-full. But fact is, these instances showed straight pairings (Winn and his Banshee-girlfriend, Siobhan [Italia Ricci], and Mon-El and Eve Teschmacher [Andrea Brooks]). When it comes to intimacy between Alex and Maggie, sexuality it reduced to a few kisses and touches above the waist. It’s as if the actresses have been given schematics of anatomical hot-zones – may touch: hair, face, neck, arms, foreheads; under certain circumstances: waist (but only when hugging or dancing); may not touch: anything else; plus: hands must be visible at all times.
While at first, this was okay because they were at the beginning of their relationship and everything was slow and sweet, now it becomes awkward. Especially considering the progression of intimacy between Kara and Mon-El in the latest episode, and also Winn’s relationship with his potential alien girlfriend, Lyra (Tamzin Merchant); they very openly made out on top of the bar. This double standard shouldn’t exist. Same-sex couples are not inherently more sexual and do not need to be policed into degrees of sexuality that may be okay for exhibition on a family show. This is homophobia, it’s also bullcrap! Gay teens are watching this and they notice that a difference is being made as to what kind of affections they’re allowed to show in public compared to heterosexual couples. I don’t care about the sensibilities of overprotective parents: love is love. If you advocate for equality, you need to show these relationships as equal; there’s no way to do this half-assed.
And while we’re on the topic of Alex and Maggie: do they still have jobs? Or were they maybe fired because they played hookie that one time in Supergirl Lives? I seem to remember a time when Alex worked for the D.E.O., but lately her whole existence revolves around her relationship. While I love most scenes involving Sanvers (who am I kidding, I love them ALL), I don’t feel comfortable with Alex being cut from the work she usually does with Supergirl. For one, her job has always been important to Alex and she’s good at it, for another, they’re using Alex’ seeming absence to insert Mon-El into that position where he’s the one to help Kara, where he becomes the strongest bond and replaces Alex. I don’t have to spell out to you how fu**ed up that is, do I? Remember when Kara voiced her concern that Alex prioritizes her new relationship over their sisterly bond? Of course you do because that was just two weeks ago. Now the show does the same with Mon-El, and it doesn’t seem to raise any red flags with them.
Alex and Maggie’s relationship seems forced into corners of twosome-ness, restricted by unvoiced rules of touching with a random kitchen counter forced between them to contain the Gay. Is this how queer people live? Is this how straight people suppose we live or want us to live? Is this the only way they feel comfortable with us being around at all?
Okay, this post got deeper than I thought it would. Useless to say, I got my issues with how Alex and Maggie are represented by the show. And I feel this is a good time to point out that my issues are with the show runners and writers, not with the actors. Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima show very nuanced characterizations of the characters and their relationship, even if the material is not always up to par. I was very moved by Maggie’s emotional explanation about her coming out and that was due to Lima’s acting. The scene on the whole was way too short to have any real impact. I hope they’ll revisit the issue on a later date with Alex being able to show the same kind of support that Maggie has given her from the start.
As I said, the Sanvers scenes weren’t really at the core of the episode, there was just not enough of them to compete with the couple that took center stage: Karamel. Insert your argument here that as Kara is the lead of the show her relationship should be at the center of the show, if you must – I said my piece about that. Now, this relationship is so fresh they didn’t even have a confirming kiss yet, but are interrupted by Mr. Mxyzptlk declaring his love for Kara. From the promos, I figured he would be a funny side-plot to bring Karamel closer together, but, ho boy, that was so not what happened.
The problem with that whole storyline starts with Mxyzptlk basically being an intergalactic stalker. As many of the villains so far on the show, he’s come from the Superman side of DC and while I haven’t read up on what caused him to first emerge and test Superman’s patience, I’m almost sure that he wasn’t making advances on the man of steel like he is here on Kara. You know, it’s kinda different when you’re a girl and some imp of the fifth dimension watches you while you change into your supersuit… Think about this for a little while before we move on.
So, Mxy is a stalker, Mon-El was right about that at least, but how does that help Mon-El’s own misogynist case? If Mxy was supposed to be the tool to bring Kara and Mon-El closer together, someone screwed up because most of the episode, Karamel was fighting. And not in a cute bantering way about little nothings they made up in their heads because they’re still unsure about the relationship. These were essential questions, hashed out so violently and annoyingly I had to drown some of it out with painful groans. Banter I get, but this was war between two people who don’t seem to like each other much. Mon-El accused Supergirl of being full of herself and not listening to him and she gave back about him being controlling and full of male ego.
Well, kids, I hate to break it to you, but maybe you should have a sit-down and ask yourselves if these characteristics you find in the other are not a dealbreaker? You know, I’m not naive, at least not when it comes to cultural theory and tv, I know what this episode was supposed to do, the kind of mechanisms it was supposed to set in motion. As I said: Mxy tool to bring supercute straight couple together. While the end-result was somehow achieved, everything about their get-together was violently toxic and wrong! Mon-El posed as a slightly less dangerous version of Mxyzptlk himself. While Mxy tried to blackmail Kara into marriage with him, Mon-El is still pouting his way into Kara’s pants. He’s accusing her of things that are preposterous, doesn’t listen to her (though he promised he would) when it comes to his education as hero; he’s behaving alternately like a spoilt brat and a caveman and while Kara called him out for it (at least in this episode), she still saw no problem with getting hot and heavy on the couch after Mxy was finally gone.
You have to wonder if the writers know who Supergirl is, at her core? There’s no denying that Mon-El doesn’t know who she is because his case of the jealousies was so insane I don’t even wanna mention it (but I will come back to that later). Mon-El seems exactly the kind who accuses other people of things he would do if places were reversed. Maybe he wanted to be swept off his feet by Mxy? I don’t know. At this point, I’m so confused by this Karamel relationship and the mere existence of Mon-El on the show… I might either take a chill pill and ignore that whole part or stop watching. It’s fucking insane!
Another insane thing: how did Mon-El even get to work in the field with Kara? Yes, I saw those training montages, too; cute. But I also remember Kara being shot at with missiles and Alex having to train two years before J’onn let her out into the field. And Mon-El has made his share of mistakes which usually stem from not listening to Kara who’s kind of his superior, right? But somehow he gets to have an opinion. And his opinion on dealing with Mxyzptlk is killing him? Yeah, it seems like an especially good idea to let someone like that work for the D.E.O. Or not.
I’m being sarcastic and you know why: the inconsistency within the basic workings of the show annoy me. Those inconsistencies usually occur where Mon-El is concerned. I know that some people are saying that Mon-El is still learning and all… but while he’s learning, people are dying. And yes, I quoted James back at these people because so far, Guardian has done a much better job protecting people than Mon-El who supposedly has some superpowers of his own.
Interestingly, in the comics Mon-El (and his differently-named variations) has the same powers as Superman. The only difference between them is that Mon-El is allergic to lead, not Kryptonite. They went a different way on the show, probably to not undermine Kara as the lead (which happened anyway), but maybe also to tone down Mon-El’s overbearance. Remember when Mon-El woke and choked Kara and threw her through a glass wall? Yeah. We’re always told that men are stronger than women, it’s a statement we barely question until it’s proven wrong. Kara defeats Mon-El by the end of the episode (Welcome to Earth) and we learn in Survivors that his powers don’t equal hers.
It’s one of the things that puts a strain on their relationship in Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk. Mon-El is questioning Kara’s approach to dealing with Mxyzptlk, claiming that killing him is the only way. He questions her abilities, and – not for the first time – her motives. At the end of the episode, this all seems to come to the point that he’s jealous of Mxyzptlk, for him being able to give Kara things Mon-El can’t give her. But his behavior seems to show a lot more than just jealousy aimed at an imp who doesn’t stand a chance with Kara (seriously, Mon-El, have you met Kara? the girl who made it her goal in life to protect people? the girl who loves potstickers and ice cream and kitten videos?). His anger redirects itself at Kara because she doesn’t share his point of view, even though he is the self-declared expert on creatures like Mxyzptlk. Now, what could possibly hide behind that?
A male ego, maybe? Some inherent supposition that as a man he’s better equipped to deal with Mxyzptlk? He actually says that he’s trying to protect Kara’s honor. Can we acknowledge how ironic that is, comical even? This is the girl of steal, buddy, you’re not equipped to defend any part of her. Not even the part you think you own now that you’re dating. Because she can do that herself! Jealousy is not a cute or romantic gesture boys and men show in protection of their lady loves. It speaks of an inherent believe that men own the woman/girl they’re dating and no other man (person?) has a right to her or her time or her attention. And one may wonder where Mon-El even got the notion of that believe. Isn’t he the man who only the week before claimed that the romantic entanglements on Daxam included the catchy motto: The more the merrier?
It’s insulting that the deeper you go into the Mon-El narrative, the more inconsistencies you discover. The more throw-away lines and concepts you discover. For example, Daxam’s romantic and sexual culture seems to adapt to any kind of situation the writers of the show come up with. In The Darkest Place, Mon-El tells James and Winn that on Daxam they had arranged marriages, in Luthors we have that line about polyamorous love (or at least the implication, I’m pretty sure they didn’t think this through), and in Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk, Mon-El claims Kara as his lady and how dare you even talk to her, she’s mine! or something.
Is this just bad writing or don’t they really care about what they write about Mon-El? As I wrote in my other post, there’s a sense of schizophrenia surrounding Mon-El where he’s far bigger than his story allows, where there seems to be a meta-voice calling him out for who he represents as a stereotype (for example, when Mxyzptlk calls him ‘tall, dark, and blandsome’). I get a sense that the writers don’t care about or for him which would be sad if I did care, but is ultimately disruptive because the storytelling gets really bumpy. Inside the narrative, these inconsistencies could probably only be accounted for if Mon-El lied about mostly everything, outside the narrative… I don’t even know… is it bad writing? A character that was forced onto the writers and now they treat him like the scum he is? Is it gonna be explained or will we just have to live with Mon-El for the rest of the show? Is he set up to fulfill his comic-self’s narrative and get forgotten in the phantom zone?
The one storypoint (I’m not calling it a storyline because there’s not enough of it to call it a line) Kara has this season seems to be her fear of losing the people she loves. In loving Mon-El, is Kara set up to lose him to lead poisoning? Will she be the one forced to deliver him to the phantom zone once he’s poisoned or is this part of Mon-El’s story done and over with? I’m speculating, but since Mon-El isn’t really much of a character, could it be that he’ll just be a plot device the writers drag along until they plan to use him?
I have another speculation for you: regarding Winn’s new love interest and his lack of luck in love. The way he met Lyra feels like a certain set-up for me. Winn is attacked by random alien thugs for no reason and then rescued by a female alien who then shows an interest in him? I feel like those three were working together to get Winn’s attention. Maybe they’re looking for Mon-El (that intergalactic search party/death squad we’ve seen in Supergirl Lives?)? Maybe they want a shot at Supergirl?
I think I’m all thought out now. The Valentine’s episode wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m also questioning the decision to have all the main players (except James) get coupled off. The superhero-tale gets drowned in all the love drama and since I didn’t see the same happening on Arrow, I wonder if this has to do with the hero being a woman (please, let me be wrong because if The CW pulls out this fucking trope, I’m outta here!).
Well, thoughts and comments are welcome. I don’t claim to be all-knowing, this is my interpretation of what happened, and you’re welcome to disagree.