Supergirl, not too long ago, was put on a pedestal by the LGBTQ+ community. The show was praised for its relatable execution of its lesbian character Alex Danvers’ coming out arc, along with “Sanvers” (Alex Danvers’ relationship with side character Maggie Sawyer). Several individuals on their production team, including main writers, identified as LGBTQ+. Supergirl was a show that queer people of all ages could put their trust in to right the wrongs of other shows’ poor representation and to do us all justice. I once called it the best lesbian representation on primetime television. I was wrong.
From the first episode of season three, absolutely everything in the show began to go downhill. But even before that, the show was already on thin ice because of an incident that occurred at San Diego Comic Con. In short, the cast belittled and invalidated a large portion of their LGBTQ+ fanbase in the least subtle way possible (I mean, it was screamed at the top of Jeremy Jordan’s lungs).
I'm genuinely disturbed by it. In my 6 years of covering tv, I've never seen a cast actually take glee in making fun of a segment of fandom
— Dana Piccoli (@DanaPiccoli) July 22, 2017
The full story will speak for itself.
But onto the failing plotlines of the next season. The protagonist of the show, Kara Danvers (a.k.a. Supergirl) is set up to be a modern feminist icon. However, when her boyfriend (who was in fact, a misogynistic slave-owner) leaves her, her character is reduced to a girl who throws temper tantrums and neglects her duties. Instead of being a hero, the break-up causes her to lose herself for an elongated period of time. You don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to see the plothole-filled mess the show has become. I wish I could say that was the last of Supergirl‘s screw-ups.
The last straw was the poorly-executed termination of Sanvers due to Floriana Lima’s (who plays Maggie Sawyer) exit of the show. Her contract did not extend for more than a set amount of episodes for season two and only agreed to an extension of five episodes for the show’s third season. The writers, instead of making Sanvers an off-screen relationship (which would be perfectly feasible), made the executive decision that the best thing to do was split the couple up.
Fans are aware that circumstances change and contracts end. Not everything will work out, and LGBTQ+ fans are painfully hyperaware of that. But where Supergirl writers went wrong was not at the decision to break them up, but to break them up in a haphazard fashion that terribly bends the pair out of character, exploiting queer fans for their views in the process.
Let’s backtrack once more to the end of season two. In the finale, Alex Danvers abruptly proposes to her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, leading the fans to believe that a wedding will follow after the hiatus. The proposal was accepted, after all, and the writers do proclaim that Sanvers is just as important to them as any other main couple on the show. The hamartia of the situation is that they knew. The writers knew that Floriana Lima’s contract only lasted full-time for one season. They knew Sanvers would be hard to continue, yet they inserted this proposal anyways in order to keep fans tuning in for their show.
Episode five of season three — set to be the last one containing Maggie Sawyer — was titled “Two Rings.” Just before the airing of the season premiere, that episode’s title was changed to “Damage.” This immediately alerted the fans that Sanvers would break up. However, when the season premiered, the couple seemed more than fine planning their wedding together.
Supergirl‘s staff attempted to ease the worries of Sanvers fans by saying that although there will be an end to the relationship, it will be “amicable.” As the episodes progressed, hints were dropped that Alex wanted kids but Maggie did not. In the end, that was what broke them up. Maggie’s last episode showcased a relationship with the theme “You’re not getting what I’m saying.” They attempted to ignore the issue, but the scene that followed was Alex saying, “We can’t be together.”
But why so soon? Why was there no attempt at consensus, or even an argument to better understand each others’ perspectives? The answer is that more screen time must be provided to the temperamental Supergirl rather than the couple that saves the sloppily-written show from cancellation.
The sanvers breakup was so rushed and left out apparently so many discussions they had before they decided to break up. Including this one. I can’t believe you had the nerve to cut their scenes when we had so few left and then claim to still “honor” their relationship. pic.twitter.com/6kM7sDZb74
— CΛROL 🏳️🌈 (@carolisa327) November 19, 2017
False promises of a wedding, the sudden appearance of an insurmountable mountain to climb, all imply that no matter what, lesbians just don’t get their happy ending.
– Beth McDonough, AfterEllen
The break-up was called by the showrunner as “modern.” The correct description should have been “out of character.” In the previous season, when Maggie lied to Alex about cheating on her ex-girlfriend, Alex thought out the situation carefully before initiating a discussion. When Alex revealed herself to love Valentine’s Day, Maggie, who associated the day with childhood trauma, reached a compromise for her. Their more important break-up arc, however, was not executed with the care that these scenes were given. Another adjective that should have been used to describe the split is “rushed.”
Poor decisions were made abundantly when it comes to Supergirl. As a show that was praised for its stellar LGBTQ+ representation, it’s a shame to watch it all go down the drain. Hopefully one day, young fans of the community grow up to write a show that consistently excels instead of crumbling.
— The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject) November 7, 2017
This article has been dedicated to everyone who rooted for Sanvers, especially Destiny.