No one is saying that the appropriate reaction to seeing the new alien boy in your life try to offer his Daxamian sword to an enamored assistant is to stand there and watch it all happen in front of you. I just want to make clear that I don't think that if you walk in on a J. Crew After Dark catalog shoot by accident that you should sit back with a bucket of 'corn and chill. No one expects Kara (Melissa Benoist) to see Mon-El (Chris Wood) round the bases with Miss Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) and cheer them on as like she was at a Cubs game.
It's just that Kara's reaction to it seemed, well, disproportionate to what she saw. The state of undress was minor. Zippers seemed in tact. Eve had not yet alighted the baloney space pony. And yet, Kara backed into a wall as if she'd seen the unholy of unholies and her face was somewhere on the horror spectrum, eyes open wide, near apoplectic, quick to shame the two consenting adults for doing their naughty business within her super earshot.
But it's also not out of character that she took the perfectly natural (if business-inappropriate) actions displayed in front of her with such dramatic abjection. Supergirl is a decidedly family program and its titular lead is full of pep, vigor and a characteristic naïveté that, even after more than a decade growing up on this Earth, still extends to sex. Remember when she also caught Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and Siobhan (Italia Ricci) doing the exact same thing (like, the exact same thing) and basically needed a fainting couch. In the same way that companies are starting to invest in nap rooms for their employees, maybe CatCo Worldwide Media should invest in some sex rooms with locking doors if only for Kara's sake.
What's more is that Kara's high discomfort with all things sexy times is pretty consistent with the Arrowverse. Take Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) over on The Flash for example. Besides a brief stint with Awkward Patty (Shantel VanSanten) and now currently with Iris (Candice Patton), there's not a lot of indication of people enjoying a free spirited horizontal mambo every once in a while, even for people in relationships. Some light kissing, some longing gazes, a candlelit date or two, but never any jokes about sex, never any indication that anyone is moving things to the boudoir. And when it does happen to people that aren't Barry, it turns out the woman is bad news (sorry, Cisco. Sorry, Winn).
This on The CW, a youth-skewed network where almost every other show not featuring a DC Comics character treats sex like basic plot currency. And not even the big bank notes. We're not talking like they save up the sex plot currency in a Roth-IRA so they can spend it when they need to. We're talking nickels and dimes here. They just toss those sex plots around. I'm not even sure Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is about anything else this season. Our heroes remain, at least without the between-scene stories you invent during commercial breaks, virginal and chaste.
And why is that? Why do our heroes either actively reject or at least seem casually uninterested in sex?
It probably starts with the kids. Six-year-olds don't visit sets of Jane the Virgin dressed like Rogelio (though they should). Kids are fans of the show, DC on TV is family-angled (mostly?), and showing Kara or Barry sweating up the sheets might not only be boring to the children but something the parents aren't going to want to have to explain. And that's fair. The youth shouldn't be learning about lovemaking from a speedster anyway.
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But sex on Supergirl is treated as particularly icky, existing only for doomed couples (James and Lucy, Winn and Siobhan) or depraved individuals with oft-questioned morals (Mon-El, Brainiac-13). While Kara deals with heavy issues like what to do with her life outside of superhero-ing, the death of her planet and her relatives, and the burdens of trying to save a squishy human population bent on destroying itself, her position on sex seems to be arrested. She landed on Earth with the same level of emotional intelligence about sex as she has now.
I mean, near the end of this week's episode, Kara literally rips out the pages of a National City guide book that contains information on strip clubs. She hurriedly destroys any evidence of sex in the city. And you know the National City Chamber of Commerce would only list the classiest establishments in their guide book. So what's the big deal?
It almost makes me look forward to the eventual discussion Alex (Chyler Leigh) will have with Kara about her sexuality. Alex's gayness (which she couldn't even say in her coming-out to Maggie) should be defined by who she loves, but lesbianism is often defined by who she has sex with, particularly with our repressed culture. There's good narrative reason for Alex to come out to Maggie (Floriana Lima) first before her family: Kara doesn't seem like she'd be exactly great with this stuff. There are a few ways this might play out.
Alex tells Kara and it's so awkward you'll want to mute the television. Can't you just see Kara hearing the word "gay" or "lesbian" and seeming so incredibly uncomfortable but cool with it that she stammers for five straight minutes before literally stumbling while trying to get away from the situation? It'll leave Alex with disappointment, embarrassment and maybe some guilt. Kara will come around in the end for a nice Danvers sisters moment, but it'll become clear that blurting out "I'm gay" to Kara is the equivalent of spooking an already anxious 84-year-old with a surprise party. You'll spook her.
Alex tells Kara in a way that doesn't relate to sex but only love. The secret to not spooking Kara is to appeal to her romantic side. I can also see the show breaking with Kara's fear of naked intimacy in order to allow her to be a role model for how to handle someone coming out to you. Kara will be warm, stately, and have nothing but the right words for her sister to make her feel safe and loved. It's the way it should be. Given how thinly veiled Supergirl has been on social issues, the way it probably will be.
Kara walks in on Maggie and Alex dry humping in a Catco storage room. Because Kara's life is really just a series of doors with her loved ones behind them in states of undress. Everything else she does (superhero-ing, reporting, eating dumplings) is just wasting time until the next time she can open a door to someone she knows having a sexy times at her place of business.
Like I said previously, I don't need Kara to be in a relationship immediately. I like the show (at least occasionally) letting Kara zor-El focus on what Kara Danvers wants from life. But there'll be a time when they'll give her a relationship (that's how these things go) that she actually wants to move forward on. And as she moves through the paces of what a modern relationship means, I'm curious to see how it's handled. Will it be gentle kisses on screen with some nudge-nudge-wink-wink jokes for the grown ups? Will the relationship be sanitized for a broad audience? Will Kara go through an emotional roller coaster if/when she feels like she loses something? It'll be interesting to see how Kara's discomfort with sex manifests as sex eventually comes for her.
And, statistically, it'll happen right near the toner.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.
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