Sunday, March 20, 2022

Too "CW" For Me


Stargirl seems like it ought to be a show for me. Female protagonist, cool superpowers, giant robot/suit, family drama, and a small town setting. So much to love. 

But I don't love the show. I'm not even sure I like it. 

And I think I've figured out why. It's the same reason I don't love The Flash or Arrow, even though those shows ought to have been right up my alley, too. Both had strong starts with interesting characters, but I eventually just lost interest. 

It's the "CW" effect. 

When a show is handed over to CW (or WB), it immediately changes, and not for the better in my point of view. They *look* good, with pretty people in great costumes and decent-for-the-budget special effects, but they don't hold up well to scrutiny. 

They're . . .shallow. 

So often the plot relies on people avoiding a conversation, often that conversation wouldn't even be that difficult to have. Or ignoring an obvious application of the powered person's skills. Or strange caprices. Character motivations shift from episode to episode, so it's hard to even know if someone is behaving "out of character" because there is no consistency about what is "in character." 

Superhero stories tend be a bit plot-driven…cool action scenes and creative fights are part of what fans come for, me included! But, the best ones also really understand their characters and lead to strong emotional payoffs. 

WB shows seem to be all about short-term payoff and cool moments, and I'm pulled out of the story again and again because I can't understand why characters are doing what they're doing. 

I watched Season 1 of Stargirl and enjoyed seeing the team of heroes come together. I liked the generational take, with young people taking over for older heroes. I had high hopes for Stripes-the-stepdad-with-a-secret-history. But I wasn't drawn in enough to watch it quickly. I think it took me two years to watch the whole season. 

The continual shifting of tones lost me. Was Stripes to be taken seriously as a mentor or laughed off as inept comic relief? Am I supposed to keep cheering for a girl who shows herself over and over again as more self-interested than anything else? 

I'm starting to wonder if we just hand the story over to a completely new team of writers every other episode and that no one reads the other team's work to build naturally from what came before. 

When we moved to the second season, I watched one episode and I'm not sure I'll be back for any more.
The adults in the show are not making any sense. Mom and Dad were THERE in the first season: they were part of the fight with the bad guys. The superhero stuff isn't a secret from them. But, they behave as if they have no understanding of all of what's going on. It's like they just forgot everything that happened and stepped back in time to the original conflict of trying to keep the kid protected versus letting her step into her role as a hero. 

Maybe I'm just too old for this, but it seems like cheap manipulation rather than honestly-built suspense. 

How about you? Do you like the WB/CW superhero shows? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment. 

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