Well, the rumor has become fact. Faster than a speeding bullet, Supergirl has moved to the CW. For fans of both Supergirl and the currently existing DC Universe on the CW, if you’re not rejoicing, you should be. Why? Pull up a chair.
First – let’s talk about the why. The long and short of it is money – which would be the least surprising news ever. With licensing and production costs, Supergirl costs an average of 3 million dollars an episode. That’s a hefty price tag, and in CBS’ view, the ratings don’t support that expensive of a show. I get it. So, in an effort to trim production costs, the show will move its entire production to Vancouver, a city much cheaper to shoot in, and will air on the CW. As far as returning cast – we expect more details from the CW in the coming days. In fact, David Harewood, the Martian Manhunter himself, pretty much said exactly that in this tweet.
So was it a smart move or dumb move by CBS? Ultimately, I think it was a good move. After a sizzling start with a 13-million viewer debut, Supergirl lost about half its viewership by the end of the season. Not great, but, looking a little deeper, one would see that Supergirl is a solid DVR performer and grabs 2.4 million people in the coveted 18-49 year old demo. Blah, blah, blah Bill – why do I care? You care because it means that Supergirl’s audience skews young, which makes it just about the only show on CBS that skews young. My parents love CBS. If you’re over 50, you’re right at home on CBS. I’m sure there are some AARP members that love superheroes, but I think we can all agree it’s not the target demo. CBS is the home of NCIS, Criminal Minds, and other procedural type shows that draw in huge numbers of older viewers. Supergirl never fit. It was always an outlier. It clashed with the proven identity of the network it was on. However, the CW is pretty much the polar opposite. With its almost exclusively genre fare, it almost selectively targets young people – and if Supergirl can bring its roughly 6.5 million viewers to the CW this fall, it would immediately become the CW’s number one show. Seems like a good move for a show that courts young viewers and has a dedicated fan-base. Moreover, The CW has a proven track record at making some damn good superhero shows at a fraction of the budget Supergirl is currently made for. Win-win.
Ok, those were the nuts and bolts. Let’s get to the good stuff. Supergirl will immediately become more interesting to comic book and superhero fans as part of an interconnected universe. Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, collectively known as the Arrowverse (Arrow came first y’all) are all thriving on the CW – feeding off of and informing each other. Even when the shows don’t physically cross over – the impact of each show can be felt on the others. It’s clearly what people want. If the Marvel model, both on the silver screen and on Netflix has taught us anything, it’s that people love interconnected universes and super-heroes interacting with one another. And there’s already some evidence in this particular case.
Supergirl saw a ratings bump this year when Grant Gustin’s Flash ran from network to network. So, we already have a pre-existing relationship to build on. That episode of Supergirl was, for me anyway, the most satisfying episode of the year, largely due to the chemistry between the leads. Gustin and Melissa Benoist were as a-dork-able as it gets – and now we can look forward to that happening several times a year. That’s already a good start for all kinds of fun interactions. Anyone else looking forward to how the writers introduce the always (sometimes annoyingly) cheery Supergirl to constantly brooding/doing ab exercises Green Arrow? Or looking forward to Kara showing up in Rip Hunter’s spaceship to wonder why Captain Cold is so snarky?
Even something as simple as how she will be introduced is interesting. Based on the Flash’s appearance on Supergirl this past year, it’s already been established that they live in separate universe. So how will the writing teams of both Supergirl and the Arrowverse bring Kara Zor-el into the fold? Is Supergirl’s world Earth-3? Could we have a possible Crisis on Infinite Earths on the horizon? This situation is already intriguing, especially to longtime comic nerds, er, lovers like myself.
The reality is, despite the much smaller network – it’s a much bigger sandbox to play in. This isn’t a one-sided situation either, the move will actually help both Supergirl and the already existing DC Universe. Like it or not, Supergirl and that symbol on her chest represent an iconic brand, one people know and love. It can only help adding that credibility to what is already a great connected universe. Also, both Supergirl and Arrow/Flash/Legends of Tomorrow have a shot to pick up new viewers. While there was certainly already crossover audience (me!) , this merger will almost certainly expose Supergirl viewers to Arrow/Flash/Legends who might not have been willing to go there before.
Exposure to Arrow & Flash (and hopefully their writing teams) should also help Supergirl become closer to the show comic book fans were hoping for when it launched. There were moments of brilliance in Supergirl’s very uneven first season. Melissa Benoist is outstanding. Even when I was incredibly dissatisfied with the show, she kept me watching it. But the show never really knew what it wanted to be. It had to stay in that procedural police drama episodic formula that CBS loves, but doesn’t really fit for a comic book come to life. Hopefully, with all of the DC TV projects now under the roof built by Greg Berlanti and company, Supergirl will get a chance to play out some more serialized storylines and rely less on the monster of the week formula.
Who knows what form Supergirl will take when it reappears on our screens? Will all the cast members be back? (Not a necessity – looking at you, Lexie Grey) Will the budget cuts be evident on-screen? There are a lot of questions still to be answered, and that is what makes this great news. This is going to be fun to watch unfold. Look at it this way people – we could be looking at a November/May sweeps crossover featuring Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow, The Atom, Captain Cold, and hell, if God smiles on us – John Constantine. That’s reason enough to be happy Supergirl is moving to the CW.
Hey, it can’t be any worse than the stuff DC is putting on the big screen, right? (I couldn’t resist.)