Last night’s episode of Supergirl featured the storyline I’ve been waiting for since they announced that one of the characters on a DC CW show was coming out, and I couldn’t be happier.
During season one, I kind of felt like Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), might not be completely straight, but I wasn’t sure if that was just me hoping that she was queer. In August, when they made the announcement, I started thinking that it would be Alex. They had already said that they were going to explore Alex’s personal life in season two and openly gay Detective Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) was joining the series as a regular. All the signs pointed to “Alex is queer” but it’s been hard for me to hope, because we’ve been burned so many times before. However, in last week’s episode, we found out that Maggie was seeing someone and Alex reacted with a mix of hurt and jealousy and there was no doubt in my mind that Alex was going to be queer.
Last night’s episode wasted no time in confirming that Alex is the character getting a coming out story. In the beginning of the episode, we find out that Maggie and her girlfriend broke up and Alex just can’t believe that anyone would break up with Maggie. A little later, at the DEO, Alex is still thinking about Maggie not being herself and Winn even makes a comment like “It’s not like you’re into her.” Alex and Maggie run into each other at a crime scene and Alex launches into “Let’s go do something together to get your mind off being dumped” not realizing that it sounded a lot like asking Maggie out several times. Maggie thinks that’s exactly what Alex is doing and starts the “I totally pegged you wrong, I didn’t think you were into women,” which causes Alex to tell her she’s not gay and basically run away.
Alex ends up at Kara’s apartment with a donut and confused feelings, but before she can talk to her about it, they’re interrupted. At the end of the episode, Alex finds Maggie at the bar, to make sure she’s okay after a shit day, and when Maggie apologizes for being forward, Alex has an amazing coming out monologue that is absolutely everything I could have hoped for.
The scene was well written, well acted, well directed, and it was easy to tell that a lot of care went into it. Alex’s monologue detailed feelings and an experience that so many queer people are familiar with. The feeling that there’s something not quite right but not being able to peg it until someone comes into your life and you have a light bulb moment. Doing absolutely everything you’re supposed to, everything that was expected of you, but still feeling like something’s missing. Being so scared to say “I’m gay/bi/pan/queer/etc” because saying it out loud makes it more real. To quote Paige McCullers in Pretty Little Liars “If I say it out loud, if I say ‘I’m gay,’ the whole world is gonna change.”
One of the most important parts of that scene is how Maggie reacted to Alex telling her all of this. Maggie didn’t push, didn’t interrupt, or try to put words in Alex’s mouth, she just listened. The most important thing you can do when someone is coming out to you, when someone is sharing something that important with you, is to just listen. Sometimes it’s really hard to be that listener because people are very quick to try to label someone else, for one reason or another and straight people are not the only ones who do it. Maggie listening to her, trying to help her, and then letting her go was as important as what Alex was saying.
I’m looking forward to seeing Alex’s journey, I’m glad they seem to be subverting the old “‘straight’ woman panics when she realizes she’s not straight” trope, because that’s an old and played out trope. I’m looking forward to seeing Alex tell Kara, because even though they have a really strong bond as sisters, coming out is scary and we already saw some of that fear when Alex tried to talk to her before Lena (Katie McGrath) interrupted.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Kara will be really supportive and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Supergirl Executive Producer, Andrew Kreisberg said, “Kara’s reaction is interesting. She feels a little sad, but entirely because she feels like so much of the sisters’ lives have been about Kara, have been about protecting her, keeping her secret, making sure she’s safe, and last year, this journey for her in becoming Supergirl. She feels like she created an environment in which Alex never felt comfortable discussing this stuff, so she laments that. She also says to Alex, too, that she understands what it’s like to turn off a part of yourself to go along and get along. It only makes the sisters closer.”
Getting a couple of gay women on a CW show is a little nerve-wracking, due to the 25 or so queer characters were victims of Bury Your Gays this year, a large number of them being on the CW. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kreisberg said, “Well, they’re not dying, either of them, so we’re not really thinking about that right now” and I really hope he understands what he’s saying and the impact of the trope. When you say “This character isn’t dying” to an audience made up of a group of people who get representation snatched away all the time, you have to mean it and be prepared for any backlash if you fall back on what you say.
I cried watching the bar scene, not just because of Alex’s monologue, but because something I hoped for actually happened. I cried because I got to watch the beginning of a three dimensional character’s coming out journey and I got to have hope that I just don’t get to have often. I’m so thankful to the writers and Chyler Leigh for that scene.