Last Monday’s episode of Supergirl featured an emotional end to Sanvers, the fan favorite relationship between Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), due to Floriana Lima leaving the show.
Lima’s exit from the series was announced back in May, just days after the season two finale, which featured a Sanvers proposal, aired. The only information fans had before season three premiered was that Lima would appear in the first five episodes and that the story would end respectfully. Well okay, we were also told that nobody was dying, but we’ve been told that before and you know, fool us once…
Fortunately, Maggie was not killed off, but the writers still managed to use an overplayed trope, ironically, something Executive Producer, Andrew Kreisberg was trying to avoid. In an interview with Variety, he explained “We thought it was cheesy ’70s TV to break up a relationship because ‘I got a job in a different city, I have to move.” I gotta say, if I had to choose between “Maggie gets a job in a different city” and “Maggie and Alex have different feelings about kids and now Maggie awkwardly lives in the same city where their work overlaps” knowing that Lima will most likely not be making another appearance on the show, I know which plot line I’m picking, and it’s not the one they went with. It’s easier to explain “I’m leaving the city for a job” than “We broke up and our work overlaps a lot, but I’m never around.”
Maggie won’t disappear completely, according to Kreisberg, they’re writing an episode where Maggie reaches out to Alex. We won’t actually get to see Maggie, but we’ll see Alex handle the interaction. Kreisberg also doesn’t rule out Lima coming back, saying “It’s always our hope that if we can work out the right story and timing that she will come back.”
One of the things that was emphasized in the episode and by Kreisberg is that it’s two people who love each other who want different things. It’s not about someone being right or wrong, it’s just how things go sometimes, which is why he didn’t want to show the arguments leading up to the break up. Unfortunately, that left some choppy conversation and writing; we go from seeing Alex tell Kara she lied to Maggie and then crying in bed next to Maggie, to Alex and Maggie breaking up and casually mentioning days of arguing. If you’re trying to portray a real relationship, you can’t ignore some of the ugly stuff in favor of trying to wrap things up in a nice, neat, bow.
One of the things about Alex and Maggie is that they argue and fight but they manage to get past that and talk things out. Fans deserved to see more of them discussing everything and exhausting all options before breaking up. The best way to show how much they love each other would have been to show them trying, instead of just having them talking about it. “Show don’t tell” shouldn’t be a foreign concept to TV writers.
Then again, these are the same writers who made a decision to move on with the wedding plot when they knew it wouldn’t be happening and when they could have spent the time fleshing out the kid thing. The scenes spent arguing about the wedding could have been spent having a frank discussion about kids. Alex’s monologue about knowing she’s wanted to be a mom since she was little should have happened episodes ago, instead of after the break up sex. The kid discussion is an extremely important one (that they should have and honestly would have had during the 6 months between seasons) and there was a better way to introduce it. Scrapping the wedding plot also would have been kinder to fans; it’s hard to enjoy something like that when you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I know I’m being incredibly hard on the Supergirl writers and Kreisberg, but I’m tired. I am a very tired gay who just wants to see well-written LGBTQ stories. I understand that they were put in a tough spot with Lima leaving, but they didn’t handle it well; and I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to bend over backwards praising them for not killing Maggie. At this point, especially on that network, not killing the gay just means you aren’t a total moron. It’s a very low bar.
Overall, Maggie and Alex’s story was beautiful and the two characters grew and learned a lot from each other. Maggie was definitely right about that. It wasn’t Leigh and Lima or their portrayals of Alex and Maggie that let us down, it was the writers and showrunners.
If we don’t demand better, we’re going to get more of the same, and I’m tired of the same.
We deserve characters that we identify with.
We deserve well-written stories.
We deserve happy endings.
Editor’s note: Since the writing of this piece, 19 people who have worked on his shows have come forward and accused Kreisberg of sexual harassment, and he has been suspended.