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Supergirl (and Superman) Is a Breath of Fresh Air for The CW

"The Adventures of Supergirl" is exactly what we needed

Kaitlin Thomas

After one season on CBS -- where it wasn't a good fit for a number of reasons -- Supergirlofficially made its debut on The CW Monday. While the younger-skewing network is a much better fit for Melissa Benoist's bubbly heroine -- it's already home to three other DC Comics superhero series -- it's still not a perfect fit.

Arrow trades in a darkness that Supergirl doesn't have, with Oliver Queen's (Stephen Amell) decision to revert to killing this season only reinforcing that darkness. The Flash, which was a light-hearted and fun series when it debuted, has veered more toward the dark and dramatic of late, which is a point of contention for many fans. And then DC's Legends of Tomorrow is... Well, no one really knows. It's an action-comedy that's still working out the kinks as it heads into Season 2.

But Supergirl is a series where hope can literally save the day. It deals in sunshine and optimism. It's a show where the Flash delivering ice cream may actually be the greatest thing that's ever happened -- but only because he didn't also bring a basket of puppies. As a bright, female-driven series on The CW, Supergirl might actually have just as much in common with the network's other female-driven comedies -- Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and No Tomorrow -- as it does with the network's other superheroes. Because against the backdrop of the rest of The CW's superhero lineup, Supergirl sticks out. However, that's not just OK, it's welcomed.

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There are only so many times someone can sit through Oliver doubting whether or not he can be a hero before giving up entirely. And we're at least nearing the limit -- if we haven't already surpassed it -- on how many times Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) will have to learn the importance of his surrogate family in the Wests. So yes, Kara Danvers' optimistic outlook is a breath of much-needed fresh air on The CW. And the arrival of Tyler Hoechlin's Superman in the Season 2 premiere only adds to that feeling.

Since the announcement was made that the Man of Steel would finally graduate from quick instant message conversations and blurry silhouettes into a real boy in Season 2, the question of whether he -- as one of the most popular superheroes in history -- would overshadow Supergirl on her own series was a big one. It turned out that worry was completely unnecessary.

Superman's arrival in National City -- as he helped Kara save a plane full of the rich and famous -- put him on equal footing with his cousin rather than playing him as the more experienced hero. It wasn't the result of Kara not being able to do something on her own but rather the product of the character's natural disposition to help others. This was aided by Hoechlin's (sadly clean-shaven) portrayal, which saw Clark as a clumsy but confident reporter who hilariously had a way with Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) and Superman as the strong-jawed, good-looking hero dedicated to truth, justice and the American way. It made for a balanced relationship as well as a balanced episode.

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However, Clark's presence in the premiere had another purpose. In addition to being another pair of hands, he also pushed Kara to discover what will undoubtedly be the theme of the season: who Kara Danvers is outside of Supergirl. Now that she's no longer Cat's assistant, Kara has decided to follow in Clark's footsteps as a reporter, reaching the decision after tagging along when Clark questioned Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath, Merlin), the younger sister of imprisoned Superman villain Lex Luthor and the intended victim of several attacks in the premiere.

While this was an easy way to explain Cat's growing absence from Kara's life (since the show moved production to Vancouver -- where the rest of The CW's superhero series are filmed -- Flockhart is now only a recurring guest star), this path will also allow Kara to grow as a professional and an individual. And as long as she doesn't suddenly decide to run for mayor of National City instead, everything will probably be all right.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of the CW's parent companies.)