Bahr: TV show potential lost in political agenda


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Columnist Connor Bahr argues popular shows are giving up chances to develop “real themes” for the sake of appealing to a political agenda in their scripts. Bahr refers to The CW’s “Supergirl” and “Batwoman” for examples of such shows.

Connor Bahr

Popular movies and TV shows today are incredibly divided when it comes to what is hailed as a masterpiece versus what is seen as terrible.

For example, the newest show to come to the “Arrowverse,” “Batwoman,” has a 71 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, yet only a 12 percent audience score.

I think the reason for this divide can be found in the reviews themselves: “The best part of the new series is that unfussy, effortless way of getting Kate’s sexual orientation out of the way,” “What can be as satisfying as a superhero in step with the times?” It can also be found in the critic consensus: “Though it needs more time to develop its own identity to truly soar, ‘Batwoman’s’ fun and stylish first season is a step in the right direction for representation and superhero shows alike.”

You can see that almost every review doesn’t focus on writing, acting or plot to explain why they think it is good. Despite the fact that the show has almost no depth, seems to have been made with the weekly allowance of a ten-year-old and has a plot that could not have taken longer than a day to write for the whole season, critics laud “Batwoman” because the show is ultimately not about telling a good story or introducing a character into the “Arrowverse,” but about representation and politics.

A similar case is shown in “Batwoman’s” sister show, “Supergirl,” whose first season was rated 92 percent by critics, but only 54 percent by the audience. The problem with these shows is that they care more about pushing an agenda than actually making content that people want to watch.

While “Supergirl” is a good watch during the action and plot scenes (despite the difficulty of making any of the “Supers” interesting), the unnecessary, one-line quips that are clearly politically motivated remind me that the writers don’t care about the show except to use it as a political medium.

On top of that, it takes away from real themes that the show could deal with. “Arrow,” the founder show of the “Arrowverse,” has themes of guilt and struggling with inner demons. “The Flash” is constantly getting stabbed in the back by people he saw the best in and trusted too easily. “The Legends Of Tomorrow” characters struggle with having a sense of self and restraining themselves for the greater good when they have the ability to change their tragic pasts. These are all real, thought-provoking themes, while the shallow themes of “Batwoman” and “Supergirl” are focused on pandering to identity politics. 

Clearly, as seen in both “Supergirl” and “Batwoman’s” ratings, audiences, including myself, are simply getting annoyed. I have no problems with shows that have strong female leads or have themes of women’s plight through life if done well. What I have a problem with are these elements being sloppily thrown into content that has potential simply for the sake of pandering.