Time to deconstruct another OTP…or NOTP, as it were. Our first Ship Wars roundtable featured Once Upon a Time‘s Captain Swan; this time, we’re taking a look at Supergirl‘s Karamel. As is often the case when we start discussing controversial ships, our team is split. While we can all agree that Mon-El has some problems, our takes on whether they’ve been addressed well enough to make him good enough for Kara are, well, agreement isn’t a thing here.
So, let’s jump right in and try to figure out what everyone thinks about Karamel, Mon-El himself, Supercorp, and whether or not Supergirl has even given us any better options.
Ok. First things first: Do you ship it? Why or why not?
Shana: That would be a very hard NOPE. Mon-El bores me to tears, and there’s zero chemistry. Others will certainly disagree, but I swear watching Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in the same scene together is one of the most ice cold experiences ever.
Oddly enough, though, with all of that being said? I was still gutted for Supergirl when she had to choose saving everyone over saving the guy she loved. See, I can not care for my faves’ significant others, but the second those faves get hurt? I will fight for them, every step of the way.
Luci: I ship them so hard. When we first met Mon-El and the whole history between him and Kara was explained — how and they were from rival planets — I just knew something was going to happen between them. It was too Romeo and Juliet for Supergirl not to explore.
But what really surprised me was the incredible chemistry between Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood. This could’ve gone south so fast if that chemistry wasn’t there, but once I saw those sparks? Man, I was in love.
Kara is really an adorable puppy, and Mon-El fought so hard to not let his feelings for her show in the beginning, that watching their dancing around each other soon became one of my very favorite aspects of Supergirl. And it’s not always that I enjoy that innocent puppy love that was portrayed, but Melissa and Chris do it so well that I couldn’t help but really root for them and enjoy all the rainbows, unicorns and sunshine that usually came with Karamel.
I was simply heartbroken when Kara had to make her impossible decision, and I just want to give her a hug and tell her to hang in there because we will see Mon-El again. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Jasmine: Simply no. While I can admit there have been funny moments with Mon-El throughout his time on Supergirl, I feel the relationship itself actually regresses Kara from her progressive feminist mindset of season 1. To me, relationships should make people better; and while Kara definitely spent time trying to help Mon-El be better, I’m truly not convinced he does this for her in return. I say this because there are some things Kara did in Supergirl season 2 during her relationship with Mon-El that I think are in direct opposition to the person she was in the first season; and to me no amount of humor is worth regression of character development — especially in our main character.
However, this is not me saying it’s not perfectly fine for her to fall in love with whomever she so chooses because I’m definitely not out to shame anyone for their preferences. Yet, this is me noticing inconsistencies from what they say Supergirl is supposed to be versus what she’s actually presenting us with.
Though, I could say this may be just the CW formula itself ringing through, as well
Lizzie: I ship it, yes. Not because I think it’s perfect or I don’t see the issues with Mon-El’s introduction and the background they chose to give him, but because I think there’s been enough growth there for me to to get invested — not just in the ship but in where Mon-El is going.
Look, I like Jaime Lannister. JAIME LANNISTER. If GRRM can get me to a point where I like Jamie Lannister, who I hated in book 1, then that just proves I’m open to redemption stories — even if they’re not straightforward. Especially if they’re not straightforward.
Maybe I’m managing to see the man the writers want us to see? I’ve shipped many a thing in my lifetime (God, I sound old); and in general, I almost always go into it with the mentality that writers will almost never give you a perfect anything. Writers rooms are too large and not diverse enough for anything resembling that, but if I can see where they’re taking a relationship and why they want me to care, I will almost always go along with it. Karamel is one of those cases.
I look at these two and I see the good things, how Mon-El makes Kara laugh and he makes her more comfortable with being Kara and Supergirl, with merging both of those into a person. I see how he makes her less straightlaced, more open-minded. I see how he’s better when he’s with her, not because she forces him, but because she inspires him. I see that they can be together — and I want that.
Cammie: Not to be that person, but it really does depend on how you define shipping. I think Kara and Mon-El have chemistry (abundantly obvious on and off screen, of course), and I think they are the most written ship for Kara, if not necessarily the most well-written ship for Kara, but I don’t ship it in the sense that I want the two of them to be together.
I feel that I would have to dislike Kara to really root for her to be with Mon-El, as he is such an insufferable character. Supergirl has provided its main character with no shortage of love interests from time to time — to the point of becoming a bit of a running gag — and for most of them, whether I wanted them together or not, I could at least see the love interest as a generally good person, or interesting, or some redeemable adjective. Mon-El is, well…that’s the second question, isn’t it?
Regardless of how you feel about Karamel as a ship, what are your thoughts on Mon-El’s effect on Supergirl as a series and on Kara as a character?
Shana: The way Karamel was written was just…too male-gazey.
It’s Supergirl’s series. It’s not supposed to be a man’s. But I felt like the majority of Supergirl’s second season arc was so focused on Mon-El “learning to be better,” while not actually learning much of anything at all, that it took away from the very rare, very necessary superhero story that Supergirl was supposed to be: a woman’s.
Basically, I’m the embodiment of Alex and Maggie’s complete lack of chill when Mon-El wouldn’t shut up about himself at the table that time.
Luci: I actually really, really like Mon-El. I loved his journey — how he went from a pain in the ass, playboy prince, who only cared about himself, to wanting to be a hero and put others first — and I think he was great for Kara. He taught her that she could have both sides, as Kara Danvers and as Supergirl, and that one would not get in the way of the other. Sure, sometimes he has no filter and does stupid stuff, but who doesn’t make mistakes in life?
Supergirl continues to be a very women-driven show, and I don’t think Mon-El took anything away from that at all. We still got Kara’s relationship with her sister; we still got Sanvers; we still got Kara’s blossoming friendship with Lena; and we also got Kara navigating life as a normal woman in her 20s, handling issues any woman would face.
So no, I don’t think Mon-El hurt the story at all. On the contrary: He added to it.
Jasmine: I feel like the symbolism of Mon-El on Supergirl sometimes reads louder than his actual character. For instance, I understand the benefits of having a powered person that Kara can physically sort of let loose with and what that brings to the series. Yet, considering they never addressed that previously with James in season 1, to bring that in as an argument now seems cheap. And personally, I suffered a sort of emotional whiplash immediately coming into Supergirl’s second season, when within 12 hours their time, Kara completely reneged on a season-long love interest storyline with the weakest excuse in the world.
So for me, coming in they started out on the wrong foot. I would have preferred them to at least respect the Kara-James storyline enough to give it a legitimate shot, and if it didn’t work out, then ok. However, the fact that half a day into new, powered dude’s coma appearance, the show and Kara did a total 180 of storyline is really destroying some character credibility on their part going forward.
That being said, since this was the way Supergirl was headed, I hoped at least the writers would do good things with it; but what followed was even more regression of character from Kara and Supergirl.
Mon-El represents the concept of no matter how disrespectful, misogynistic and flippant you are, as long as you look cute and are funny, you get a pass. There were even many times Kara herself addressed his issues verbally in the beginning of multiple episodes, but by the time the villain of the week was put down, she had decided to forgive him with no improvement on his part. What does that say to the young girls for whom Supergirl is supposed to be a role model? That it doesn’t matter how good of a person he is, or how bad his mindset is, as long as he’s cute and funny. That, in my opinion, is the real tragedy of Mon-El and what he represents.
Lizzie: Sometimes, I don’t know what they were trying to do with Mon-El, so that’s why this question trips me up. His background was just a tropey mess, but then they introduced him as a way to have Kara examine her own prejudice, which was good.
And they made him and Winn friends, which was also good — but just when Mon-El was starting to grow, they sort of sometimes regressed him back to frat boy — which I get, perfection would have been unbelievable. But they were also a bit all over the place with Mon-El, which, honestly, they were over the place with James in Season 1 too; so maybe they just can’t do better.
But I would have liked…I don’t know…a more linear arc? Or, at least, a sense that the Supergirl creative team knew what they were doing. Although, this is probably more of a gripe with the writing in general than Mon-El in particular.
That being said, I liked season 2 a whole lot more than season 1. It’s still a mostly white feminist show that doesn’t seem to understand intersectionality or care about WOC, but season 2 was funnier, they did right by Alex, they gave Kara a female friend (yeah, I’m shocked too), and for all of their blunders with the background they chose to give him, Mon-El’s presence added to the dynamics. Plus, the romance between him and Kara felt more like Kara being herself than what she had with James in season 1, and that’s the most important thing for me.
Cammie: Here’s the thing: This is not just a matter of myself (and it sounds like you guys, too) not really appreciating Mon-El’s personality, and it being just a matter of personal differences. Regardless of humor/personality/etc., he is objectively a terrible partner/friend/acquaintance/ whatever else he has been to her, for Kara. He lies to her, disrespects her boundaries, has questionable moral issues in his moral wheelhouse that he just…does not address because it’s framed as just — the way things are on his planet — so yay, moral relativity, I guess. And rather than setting this up as a way for Mon-El to grow and learn (which wouldn’t be that great anyway, because do we really want to see Kara missionary-dating some guy and morally fixing him? no?), they set it up as a chance for Kara to learn to tolerate and forgive behaviors from him that she objectively should not have to tolerate, even if life turned into a musical to try to make her.
Tl;dr: I understand that there are people who will find Mon-El’s personality charming and people like me who find him to be an insufferable baby, but the real issue is his behavior, not his personality. He could still have this C-level personality and be a good person, and I’d deal.
Part of the Supergirl fandom ships Kara with Lena Luthor under the name of Supercorp. What are your thoughts on that ship and its impact on the series?
Shana: I am so very much here for the Supergay. There are moments when Lena Luthor looks at Kara, and the thirst is just real. With that being said, though, I’m not holding my breath for it to happen. At all. Not only would too many white male panties be tied in a bunch if we stepped that far out of comic book canon to make Supergirl gay (or at least bi), but it’s not exactly as if the cast has any respect whatsoever for the ship, so…Yeah, I’m not here for how they behaved at SDCC with that — or after the fans’ reaction — so I’d rather not have anyone screw this ship up. Thanks.
I think, for the series, that the female friendship is almost more important than the potential for romance anyway (notice I say almost). At the beginning of Supergirl, Kara has basically zero female friends. Her sister is her sister. So, for me, that’s a different kind of bond. And Cat Grant is a great mentor…but not a peer. Living without friends in your peer group can be a very isolating, difficult existence. Giving Kara someone to choose to love her and share things with her, to call her her hero, was a big, important step for the series.
So, as much as I’d love to see a Supercorp kiss, I’m also fine with the besties. Quite here for that, too. And while I love, love, loved seeing Katie McGrath’s portrayal of Morgana on Merlin, I will light fire to the universe if Lena takes an evil turn like that.
Luci: They’re an incredible BrOTP. Sorry, guys, I just don’t see it as romantic at all. I think Katie McGrath was an amazing addition to the cast, and that she has great chemistry with Melissa Benoist; but Kara and Lena are friends. That’s it.
And I love that Supergirl is showing a great female friendship. I have been all for it, and their journey has been great so far. I think it’s so important to show a healthy, genuine female friendship — without one of the friends stabbing the other in the back — and I can’t wait to see how this unfolds this season.
Also, I can’t wait for Lena to find out Kara is Supergirl and see how she’s going to react to it. And I hope it’s sooner rather than later because this is getting ridiculous. There’s no way Lena can’t see that Kara and Supergirl are one and the same.
Jasmine: I am personally very much a Supercorp shipper. The chemistry between actors writes itself a lot of the time, and I’m left wondering if even the writers are aware that what they’re writing and what their actors are presenting are two different things. Saying that, there’s also an equality, supportiveness, and respect that exists between Kara and Lena that is also mutually captivating. We are never given the impression that one is talking down to, or is lesser than, the other for either money or power. It kind of shows a person doesn’t have to be physically equal to Kara to be on the same wavelength as her.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I am holding out real hope for them. Per CW formula, you’re basically allowed one LGBT couple per show, and Sanvers is it for us at this moment. But that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying someone being there for Kara who is, in fact, neither male nor related. I truly believe female relationships, romantic and not, are very important and underrepresented in media. I have, and have had, fantastic females in my life; and very few have looked like any of the cattiness and fighting that is shown in media. Therefore, if friendship is all Supercorp has in its future, at least it’s doing something positive for female representation.
Lizzie: I see them and wow, chemistry. I think it might be because both actresses have chemistry with everyone — but I get why people ship them, I do. I personally don’t, mostly because I fell in love with the idea of them being friends first, and after the failed Felicity/Laurel and Caitlin/Iris attempts, I just really wanted…that. FRIENDSHIP. For DCTV to prove that they knew that women could talk to each other, put each other first and look out for each other in contexts other than romantic. So, that’s where my attachment lies. That’s what I want.
That being said, for that, Supergirl, I need you to not go the cliché route of turning Lena evil. Just because her last name is Luthor doesn’t mean you have to go there. There is such a thing as originality.
Cammie: I think Kara and Lena have great chemistry (as well — which to both of their credit, I think both actresses have good chemistry with a good number of their scene partners), and of course there would be something particularly poetic about a Super and a Luthor falling in love. Certainly, with the set-up they’ve given them, it’s not implausible. Except it’s the CW and they don’t allow more than one gay couple per show, right?
Perhaps even more important than that, though, there have been unfortunate comments the cast has made which have indicated that this may not be the best superheroine to entrust that storyline to.
I do think the friendship between Kara and Lena is quite powerful and central to the series. I think that, while the idea of romance is nice, a lot of that shipping fanbase is also just advocating for more focus on the two of them in any direction, because that’s one of Kara’s best/most interesting scene partners, whether that be as friends, the push-and-pull of being from rival families, or whatever else. It’s a lense through which it’s easy to be invested in both characters and sympathetic to them both, and it’s the scenes that are possibly the most magnetic to watch. Shifting focus towards them as a central slightly-starcrossed pair — romance aside — would be a helpful approach to the long-term Supergirl storyline.
If you had to choose someone completely different — Mon-El and Lena don’t exist — for Kara, who would it be and why?
Shana: Honestly? Considering how clearly male-gazey every single ship on this show has been? I’d almost prefer that Kara just date no one. Just stay away from it altogether. Just no.
Winn was a whiny, entitled manbro who assumed his friend was gay because she didn’t like him like that — because, like, that’s clearly the only logical conclusion. The relationship with James was built up so much, only to be dropped after five seconds. And even that development was questionable, considering James was with someone else the whole time he was Kara’s will-they-or-won’t-they.
Then, there were the 0.5 dates with Cat Grant’s estranged son that actually seemed the least problematic of everything…but he’s the (former) boss’ son. Not good to shit where you eat.
Where does that leave us? A totally new person, whose story the creative team can make dominate Supergirl, when it’s supposed to be Kara’s story, like they did with Mon-El? Barry Allen from The Flash, who has never learned how not to screw up the entire world’s timeline for his own personal gain but kind of has this undeniable “cute puppies in love” chemistry with Kara?
As much as I don’t feel, as a general rule, that a hero — especially a female one — needs to be isolated to have a meaningful story, that might just be the way to go for Supergirl. At least, that’s how it looks for now.
Luci: I honestly don’t know. Once upon a time, I thought that Barry and Kara could be a thing, but they’re way too alike to even consider the possibility of a romance. And they have come to have more of a brother/sister relationship, anyway, and I love seeing them being adorkable together on my screen.
But other than that, I can’t really think of anyone else. Winn was never really a possibility because Kara only saw him as a friend, and she and James had absolutely no spark. So, we’re basically out of options for now.
Jasmine: I feel that, up until this point in the show, anyone we know will make this all kinds of messy and truly end up hurting Kara’s character even more. Because wouldn’t she just be friend-swapping by this point? I mean, they all — except Lena — kind of hang-out together regularly; and I can already feel the awkward from here if suddenly Kara switches her usual seat for another next to the new boo and they all have to awkwardly pretend that this isn’t as messy as it looks. Ehhh.
If she goes back to James, it’d feel like he got second place to who she really wanted. Winn, at this point. is the geek bro best friend with some real insecurity issues. Plus, he’s currently in a relationship. So, at this point, we have to start digging into the Arrowverse.
So, maybe in accordance with the writers’ wish of powered personas who could hold their own, I’d go with Caitlin Snow. Kara and Caitlin both have this soft kind of charm to their personalities, and Caitlin’s ice powers wouldn’t bother Kara, whose biology allows her cousin to live in the Fortress of Solitude. It’d be a relationship full of mutual respect, intelligence, good-heartedness, and meet cute moments. Plus, we have got to stop giving Caitlin dudes with a past evil streak who keep disappearing at the end of the season. These two deserve some happiness, and I believe they could make each other happy once we solve the inter-dimensional distance.
Lizzie: Yeah, no, right now, nothing works. Commit, Supergirl. Commit. You already screwed over every other possibility. James? Again? To prove that women are fickle beings and make him feel like she’s settling? Winn, the entitled friend who thought Kara had to be gay because she didn’t like him? Barry? That might have worked, except Barry doesn’t go here and is, you know, already in love with another wonderful woman.
And sure, you could introduce someone new in Season 3, but that also looks bad from where we stand, because it’d be literally changing your mind about who Kara should be with three times in three years. So, at this point, address people’s concerns, and move on with Karamel. Nothing else makes sense.
Cammie: I’m sorry. I can’t answer this. I’m just here, staring with heart-eyes at Jasmine’s answer. Wow. Supergirl and Caitlin Snow. That’s genius. I would die happy. Wow.