Now Reading: Why ‘Supergirl’ Beats Other Lesbian Representation on Primetime TV


Why ‘Supergirl’ Beats Other Lesbian Representation on Primetime TV

May 28, 20177 min read

The CW’s second season of its newly acquired hit ‘Supergirl’ has gathered a new audience thanks to actresses Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima. A louder, more passionate crowd – the LGBTQ+ community.

“Sanvers,” the couple consisting of the show’s Maggie Sawyer and Alex Danvers, has provided queer primetime television viewers a realistic, healthy representation of themselves.

The Supergirl writers have truly created quality representation, and here’s some reasons how:

1.  Sanvers is constantly given changing, entertaining, and engaging plotlines throughout their journey.

Alex (left) and Maggie (right).

Alex met Maggie during a police case in Season 2’s early episodes. They were at first forced to team up to fight the show’s evils, and later Alex slowly fell for the alluring cop. As the show’s favorite dynamic duo, they are frequently shown on tag-team missions against villains, aiding the superheros, and of course, saving each other.

2. The couple has great scenes that make the most of side-character-length screentime.

Although the fans adore Alex and Maggie and their dynamic, they are still side characters and do not dominate the screen. It can be argued that Alex Danvers is more than a side character, of course – the badass sister of the hero, should get more credit. However, they have gotten scenes that fans adore, such as their extremely romantic first kiss, first I love you, emotional discussions, and more.

3. Alex and Maggie constantly defy the infamous “Bury Your Gays” trope.

Alex, as apart of the government-protected Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO) and Maggie, as a detective in the extraterrestrial division of the city’s police force, have been in numerous near-death situations and have always (so far) come out alive.

In other primetime television shows (cough cough The 100), queer viewers have been subject to the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope so much that it now becomes an expectation for your favorite gay characters to die. However, Supergirl writers avoid this trope and subtly mock it by purposely putting Alex and Maggie close to death, but not killing them.

Maggie being shot in the show seemed to be a visible nod to the controversial death of Lexa in The 100. She is directly shot at but survives because of a bulletproof vest, while Lexa was cruelly and randomly killed on accident by a stray bullet, causing an outrage in the LGBTQ+ community. In Supergirl’s second season’s penultimate episode, Alex is held hostage and nearly suffocated, but manages to escape and, spoilers, tells her girlfriend she loves her for the first time.

Also, they’re the most badass tag-team.

4. Sanvers is written by Supergirl’s team of writers with multiple individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.

The majority of LGBTQ+ characters on primetime television are created by straight writers. Although straight writers have the capabilities to treat these characters and their relationships right, many unfortunately fail to. The team behind Sanvers provides a full, structured dynamic with relatable struggles of queer people, not to mention their groundbreaking storyline in which Alex comes out.

The coming out arc of Alex’s character was praised for its purity and familiarity. In the beginning of her development, she expresses herself as someone who just happens to dislike intimacy as a whole because of her previous experiences with men. Through Maggie’s help, she discovers her sexuality and looks back on her past, identifying her repressed feelings for her childhood best friend.

I used to love sleeping over at her house. In her room, in… In her bed. And I think, um… I think I felt something then. And it scared me.” – Alex Danvers, Supergirl S2E6

Aside from the coming out discovery, the show covers other common struggles of the LGBTQ+ viewers behind the screen every Monday night – like Maggie being outed and kicked out of her own home for being gay at age 14, or how when Alex was in danger, Maggie was degraded to being less than family, as many partners experience because of complicated laws and subtle homophobia.

They are also not flawless, as some people stereotype gay couples to be. It was revealed that Maggie was not the best girlfriend to her exes and is known for her mistakes and mistrust, yet Alex still pushes on, discusses it with her, and strives to help her grow.

Which leads me to #5.

5. Alex and Maggie have a truly healthy relationship.

Like any other couple, Sanvers consists of two flawed people who make mistakes. When mistakes are made, the two always talk about them to strengthen their relationship. As seen in the Valentine’s Day special, Alex upsets Maggie and almost watches Maggie storm out of the room. This is quickly followed by a “You can’t just walk out, this is a relationship.”

When Alex found out Maggie cheated on one of her ex-girlfriends, instead of lashing out, she talked to her about the reasons behind the actions. Maggie explained that it was a complete mistake and something she regrets every day, and would never repeat again, also leading on to the fact that the motivation from hiding this from Alex was that when she was outed, she stopped trusting the people closest to her. Alex famously says afterwards, “I am here to help you heal.”

Sanvers is an excellent example of an all-around great couple to all viewers of any sexual orientation, especially to Supergirl’s younger viewers as well.

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Catherine Horkay

Cat is a 5'0 senior in high school with dreams that reside much higher than her height. Her passions include academia, berry smoothies, and LGBTQ+ rights. (IG/TWIT: @catnipscarlet)