Who is Maggie Sawyer? A no nonsense cop with a smoking habit, confronted with microaggressions in the workplace as a woman in a position of power in law enforcement. A wonderfully dynamic character with ties to the Superman and Batman universe who is also an out lesbian woman. In Maggie Sawyer we have a major power player on our hands.
When the news broke out that the character will be added to the sophomore season of Supergirl, now on the CW, this writer was excited but also concerned. While the CW is the perfect home for the series, portrayal of LGBT characters on the network hasn’t always been great with only one exception: Sara Lance – The White Canary from Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. So, how can the CW do right by this character without hetero-normalizing her like the gay couple on Modern Family, gender stereotyping her like the male leads on Will and Grace, or just ignoring the fact that she is a lesbian altogether?
Here is a brief history of the character:
Captain Maggie Sawyer was introduced into the Superman mythos but her sexual orientation was never overtly stated in the series. Maggie was romantically attached to female reporter, Toby Raines, however, this relationship was only implied initially.
On Superman: The Animated Series, the character was well portrayed but once again, her sexual orientation was implied. While Toby had several scenes with the character throughout the series, it was never stated that they were in a romantic relationship.
Lieutenant (and later Detective) Maggie Sawyer had a role in the WB/CW series Smallville during the later seasons. Wonderfully portrayed by Jill Teed, we once again have covert ideas of her sexual orientation.
Maggie’s move to Gotham City is where she developed a very realistic relationship with Kathy Kane aka Batwoman. This is probably when the character was best treated. Here we have a female law enforcement officer, dealing with custody issues with an idiot ex-husband, and in love with a female costumed vigilante. She was an out and proud lesbian but it did not define her. Her relationships, desire for justice, and dealing with day to day stressors defined her. Her sexual orientation was not hidden or implied yet open and honest to the readers of the Batwoman series.
So writers of Supergirl and the powers that be at the CW, here is your formula for the best characterization of Maggie Sawyer. Pick up all the back issues of Batwoman, add a dash of what you are already doing with Sara Lance and we have the winning combination. The series is already portraying relationships that decades ago would not have been able to flourish (Caucasian Kara Danver with POC Jimmy Olsen). You can do this with Maggie Sawyer as well.
Do right by the LGBT characters on your shows by portraying them in the most realistic light possible.