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These days, television has usurped film as the prime generator of watercooler conversation, and friends and co-workers are more likely to ask what show you binge-watched over the weekend than which movie you saw. This presents problems for a news outlet dedicated to biblical worldview. Although WORLD reports on major entertainment trends, we often choose not to review the most popular and critically acclaimed series like Scandal, Empire, and American Horror Story due to their gratuitous, offensive content. After all, how many times is it worth taking up print space to warn: While well-acted, this show is full of sex, language, sex, violence, sex, drug use … Oh, and lots and lots of sex.
Even when we do review a show as potentially worth watching despite some concerns, three episodes in, producers decide to triple the number of sex scenes and leave the Christian reviewer with egg on her face. It’s no wonder most of the shows the Parents Television Council recommends in a given week are cartoons, reruns from past decades, and cooking competitions.
CBS, however, has given us an early Christmas gift, achieving headline-worthy ratings with a bona fide family-friendly hit: Supergirl.
Though mild profanity pops up occasionally in the first episodes, that a prime-time action drama on a major network avoids any suggestive content is something of a mini-miracle. More importantly, Supergirl brings it on the entertainment front. Most of the credit rests on the shoulders of lead Melissa Benoist.
Plucky, determined, with just a dash of naïve awkwardness, she’s everything young Kara Zor-El should be. As Kara’s acid-tongued, power-hungry news editor, Calista Flockhart not only delivers one-liners with flair but actually manages to impart wisdom to a girl who has absorbed a little too much PC messaging about what it means to be a strong woman. (Hint—if you want the moniker, you earn it.) Some of the fight scenes with various dark alien forces run a little long and could do with less cheese; but the kids won’t notice, and mom and dad can tolerate it when there’s this much fun to be had during the rest of the hour.
While CBS is America’s most-watched network, it’s also the oldest-skewing in terms of viewer age. Interesting, then, that CBS executives apparently decided the best way to bring in younger viewers was to break out of the gritty-soap-drama and crude-joke-sitcom molds to go clean. Even more interesting, they were right. Not only is Supergirl the season’s top debut in total viewers, it tied with NBC’s Blindspot in the advertiser-coveted ratings group of 18- to 49-year-olds. Most convincing of all, though, is how Supergirl has performed in that supreme barometer of millennial engagement, social media.
The day after the series premiere, Variety reported: “Supergirl is by far the new show generating the most discussion online this fall; in fact, there’s already been more than three times the digital content engagement around the show on Tuesday than any other newcomer on the day after it debuted. Scream Queens, The Muppets, Quantico and Blindspot rounded out the top five shows … but combined they weren’t as popular as the superhero show.”
From a business standpoint, it looks like there’s a lot to be said for airing one of the only new shows this season family members of all ages can enjoy together. Let’s just hope that in Episode 3, Supergirl’s producers don’t pull the old TV bait-and-switch and force me to regret this review.
Listen to Megan Basham discuss Supergirl on The World and Everything in It.