Earlier this summer, Greg Berlanti hinted that a character on Supergirl would be coming out as gay this year. While a certain faction of the internet was really keeping their fingers crossed that it would be a twofer of both Kara herself and Cat, it seemed like the most obvious and likely choice would be Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers. (Who is also shipped with Kara by some fans, no one tell Courtney.)
Well spoiler alert. Let me have Kara look annoyed for a second while I drag this out.
It’s totally Alex.
Okay, okay, so it’s not technically canon yet, and it could indeed be a big ole fakeout where we’ll see intense obvious sparks flying with newcomer Maggie Sawyer (pictured above. Also a woman of color, something this cast sorely needs), only to find out that it’s been— Okay who am I kidding? It’s definitely Alex!
I hadn’t actually read about Greg Berlanti’s comments until after last night’s episode aired. As you may recall, I didn’t get into Supergirl until way late in the game, so I wasn’t up on all the cool rumors and casting details that got leaked before my obsessive binge. So with literally no knowledge of what Berlanti’s crew was planning, in even the first encounter between Alex and Maggie, I said out loud to no one in my room at all “Wait, are they gonna make out?”
Here’s some messages I sent to fellow Pajiban (and host of The Flash and Friends on Screen Junkies) Joe Starr as I was watching the episode last night:
The space between those first comments was the space between the characters meeting and a scene where Maggie takes Alex to a bar, identifies the female bartender as her ex, and describes herself as “not-straight.” She may as well be wearing a t-shirt that says “Future Love Interest.” While the episode doesn’t end with the two grabbing a U-Haul and likely the process of Alex coming out will take more than one episode at least, it seems like the seeds are pretty damn near sowed.
So, why does this matter? Well the TL;DR answer to that is “JUST LET ME HAVE THIS!!!”
The longer answer comes in part from Berlanti, who is gay himself, and what his vision is for this whole collection of DC superhero shows:
Of the things that are personal to me, they’re not necessarily fights but they’re choices we made that were different that became conversations. For instance, in The Flash, Iris West was never black in the comic books, and for Supergirl, James Olsen was never black in the comics. So I wanted to contemporize these comics that I loved growing up and have them reflect the society that we live in now. Those have all been conversations.
Representation is a big deal for these shows, which also push to get diverse voices off camera as well, pushing for directors who can then gain the experience and credits needed to go off and do feature films.
But Berlanti has had gay characters across all of his shows, he was the showrunner for Dawson’s Creek who fought hard to allow Jack and his boyfriend to kiss, and has included queer characters on all of the other DC superhero shows (although The Flash has only done so with villain-retconned-into-ally Hartley, a character we don’t see nearly enough of for them to get any cookies for. Catch up, Flash!) What makes it a bigger deal and a great decision on Supergirl is that the show spent most of its first season as a coming out metaphor. They even had Melissa Benoist’s Kara say the phrase “came out” to describe the start of her arc and to push David Harewood’s J’onn J’onzz to out himself as a martian.
I’m all for queer metaphors in pop culture; they can be a great way for closeted youth to accept themselves in an abstract way. But I do think a show that is spending so much of its energy being a metaphor for being queer should have like.. maybe at least one queer character?
And now it does! Alex is a really solid choice for a character to come out. While Winn was considered a strong possibility, his and Jimmy Olsen’s hots for Kara made both of them seem unlikely to be gay, which was the term used rather than bisexual or pansexual. There is an argument to be made towards performative heterosexuality, and an over-the-top crush used to even convince oneself of one’s straightness, but while Winn also had a heterosexual relationship with the Silver Banshee, Alex’s only romantic possibility in season one was with Peter Facinelli’s Maxwell Lord, which could hardly be described as a raging fire of passion.
There is another simple reason why I personally think Alex is the better choice, and that’s that Alex is a woman. That’s not just because of my definite lesbian bias, but because of my feeling that above anything else, Supergirl is a show for girls. Even in the absence of Cat Grant, the show’s role as an inspiring beacon for young women is still going strong, and having a character come to terms with her queerness and embrace it, and find love, is something that very much belongs in that mission.
Riley Silverman will cut you if you “Bury Your Gays” in this, Berlanti.