April is a month that welcomes two things: Spring (even if it is still a cold, snowy mess in GLA’s home territory) and renewals for the fall television season. But this April, among the listings of standards like the Big Bang Theory, newbies like Lucifer, and second season successes like The Flash and iZombie, there seems to be a significant renewal missing.
Renewal news begins to trickle in as early as January, but late March and early April tend to see the bulk of announcement on shows that will be returning next September and October. Traditionally speaking, May is the drop dead date for fall season shows to be renewed, but May is even cutting it close, especially for shows like Supergirl, which has been well-received by both fans and critics.
That said, it’s not uncommon for female-led shows derived from traditionally “male-dominated” content (i.e. comic books) to have to wait to hear their fate. If you look back to Agent Carter just last year, the show’s status seemed left up to the whims of the fickle spring breeze. Even with a vocal fan base, Agent Carter had to wait until mid-May to receive its renewal announcement.
But there was also good reason for ABC to delay its decision on Agent Carter; viewership started out low for a primetime show, and continued to get lower. Even now, a season 3 is not a sure thing for Agent Carter, as the show’s only barely maintained a little over 2 million viewers.
Compare that to Supergirl, and you’ll see the CBS freshman has retained consistent viewership over 6 million, and a number of its episodes, most notably “Blood Bonds” and “Worlds Finest,” mark huge upticks in viewers (both episodes saw over 1 million more viewers tuning in as compared to the previous episodes). Supergirl’s pilot episode alone was enough for the show to be picked up for a full season just two weeks after it aired.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s season 2 (which has a strong female contingent) has had numbers comparable to Supergirl–with Supergirl reaching higher viewer numbers, but S.H.I.E.L.D. maintains more consistent numbers–and was renewed at the start of March. On another platform, Netflix’s Jessica Jones received a season 2 announcement just a month and a half after season 1 aired.
In an interview with Variety in early March regarding all of the network’s freshmen shows, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said that he believed “all five of them will be renewed.” However, one of the shows which Moonves was referencing, Angel from Hell, was pulled from the schedule in February after airing only five episodes. Likewise, the action-comedy Rush Hour‘s renewal potential is looking equally unlikely.
However, even Supergirl‘s actors believe the show has a positive likelihood of renewal; David Harewood, who plays Hank Henshaw, stated “CBS has made some very positive noise.” And with the success of the Flash crossover, vocal fans and supportive network figures have made Harewood optimistic that he will be able to continue to explore what it means to be the Martian Manhunter.
With upcoming movies like Rogue One and the Ghostbusters remake releasing trailers, it’s clear that female leads are not a fickle trend, but a consistent part of the popular culture landscape. With Supergirl‘s superlative numbers (especially in the context of its superheroic competition on the CW, Fox, and ABC), the show’s lack of official renewal is edging on distressing. As many flaws as the show may have, whether it’s decision to pit the majority of its female characters against one another, or it’s awkward and forced love triangles, Supergirl is the pinnacle of what superheroes should be, and what superhero content is missing: joy.
From cross-network crossovers to the joy of super powers, Supergirl has been doing it right in a way that is accessible and welcoming to new fans and old fans alike, and that’s something that any comic book reader, or television network, can (and should) get behind.