- After six seasons, “Supergirl” aired its series finale on November 9.
- The ending disappointed “Supercorp” fans, who rooted for Supergirl and Lena Luthor’s relationship.
- Supercorp fans say the ship, explicit or not, still positively affected their lives.
The two-part series finale of “Supergirl,” which ended the show’s six-year run, were jam-packed episodes that not only brought back fan-favorite characters but also delivered a long-anticipated wedding.
For some viewers, it was missing one major plot point: a confession of love or kiss between Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath).
No, the two characters have never dated or been explicitly portrayed as love interests. But that didn’t prevent fans of the pairing, known as “Supercorp” (a portmanteau of “Supergirl” and “Luthor Corp,” the Luthor-family company where Lena works), from hoping for five years for a potential romance.
Since Lena was first introduced in season two as the sister of Superman’s iconic archnemesis, Lex Luthor, she and Kara were portrayed as close friends who sometimes relied on each other to stay alive. The series even dedicated entire alternate-universe episodes to depicting how the two characters’ personalities changed if they lived without each other.
Lena, unlike Lex, is trying to do good in the world despite her family’s negative influence. She befriends Supergirl and becomes a beloved friend to the superhero, second only to Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh).
But certain viewers saw more than friendship in the bond between Kara and Lena.
Romantically coded dialogue, longing looks, and pivotal episodes dedicated to defining how much Kara and Lena meant to each other led many Supercorp shippers — fans who wanted Lena and Kara to be together romantically — to believe that the only end point that made sense was a confession of love between the two.
The “Supergirl” writers did deliver an intimate heart-to-heart between the women — Kara gets the strength from Lena to tell the residents of National City that she, the CatCo reporter Kara Danvers, is also Supergirl — but it was explicitly a conversation between two “friends.”
Even though “Supergirl” dedicated its 100th episode to proving that Kara and Lena needed each other to thrive in any universe, during the series finale Kara confessed, “Of all the friends I have ever had, you have pushed me the most, challenged me the most.”
Lena replied, “You’ve made me a better person.”
While a sweet moment on the surface, some longtime viewers told Insider they were left feeling bitter about the ending for Kara and Lena, and betrayed by writers they believed had queerbaited them for years.
‘Supergirl’ introduced viewers to Superman’s cousin
Set in the DC universe, “Supergirl” follows the National City adventures of Superman’s cousin, Supergirl. Much like her cousin, Kara spends her days as a reporter and moonlights as a superhero, saving the city from seemingly endless threats.
Like “The Flash” and “Arrow,” other shows on The CW that take place in the same DC universe, “Supergirl” had plenty of subplots dealing with Kara’s personal life and romances. While Kara’s sexuality was never specified, she was only shown in romances with male characters.
Kara’s friend and coworker James Olsen (a version of the classic comics character Jimmy Olsen, a pal of Superman and Lois Lane) was her potential love interest during the first season, which premiered in 2015 on CBS before the show moved to The CW for season two. Once the show changed networks, the writers introduced fellow alien Mon-El (Chris Wood) as Kara’s potential partner.
But season two also introduced Lena, who many fans thought was a better romantic partner for Kara than any of the men with whom she’d been paired.
Fans noticed the chemistry between Kara and Lena
Some viewers say they saw the chemistry between Lena and Kara from the start.
Speaking with Insider, Supercorp fans named multiple moments that felt romantically coded. But many had one specific moment they called their favorite.
It happens at the end of season two, episode 12, “Luthors,” when Lena is thanking Kara for sending Supergirl to save her from her mother, Lillian Luthor (Brenda Strong), and a villain called Metallo (Frederick Schmidt).
“Supergirl may have saved me, but Kara Danvers, you are my hero,” Lena tells Kara. She adds that she’s responsible for filling Kara’s office with flowers.
That “Luthors” scene resonated with one 24-year-old fan in the UK, who wished to be referred to as Zari for privacy. Zari, who’s made Supercorp merchandise and art for other fans, credited Supercorp with pushing her to get back into drawing after a suicide attempt damaged her arms and hands, and almost prevented her from pursuing an art career.
Zari said she couldn’t help but view the sentiment in the “Luthors” scene as more than platonic. Kara was romantically linked to Mon-El at the time, but Zari said she felt the scene “was just gay.”
“This was the most romantic thing that had happened,” she said. She added that she watched the episode with her girlfriend. “We were just like, ‘Whoa, is this really happening?'”
Some ‘Supercorp’ fans said they felt the writers queerbaited them in many scenes
Queerbaiting, as defined by Lexico, is “the incorporation of apparently gay characters or same-sex relationships” into visual media, typically movies or TV shows, “as a means of appealing to gay and bisexual audiences while maintaining ambiguity about the characters’ sexuality.”
Ultimately, an accusation of queerbaiting is an accusation that writers are using a queer story to draw in an audience, but they don’t make that romance explicit.
Another hit CW show, “Supernatural,” was also accused of queerbaiting because of the relationship between Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Castiel (Misha Collins).
Dean’s sexuality can be read as ambiguous on the show, and his relationship with Castiel takes on more importance as time goes on. Castiel even tells Dean he loves him in a November 5, 2020, episode from the final season, though that doesn’t end well for him. The relationship never goes further than that.
These two CW shows aren’t the only ones that have been accused of queerbaiting. Shows on various networks, including “Riverdale,” “Sherlock,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” and “Pretty Little Liars,” have been accused of queerbaiting by fans and critics.
Despite the accusations of queerbaiting in Kara and Lena’s relationship, “Supergirl” isn’t devoid of LGBTQ representation.
The show has two queer relationships, or “ships” for short: Alex and Kelly Olsen (Azie Tesfai), as well as Nia Nal (Nicole Maines) and Brainiac “Brainy” 5 (Jesse Rath).
But no matter how many other queer ships there are on the show, one 28-year-old Supercorp fan from Louisiana, who wished to be identified as Megan for privacy, told Insider that she credited Supercorp, specifically, with getting her through a period of intense trauma.
Megan said she was having suicidal thoughts after her grandmother died and her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. The diagnosis happened around the time her girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver, she said. Megan put off acting on those thoughts after discovering “Supergirl” and Supercorp via Tumblr. She said she wanted to stay alive so she could see what would happen next in the fictional relationship.
“I was losing those closest to me, and I kind of stopped caring about everything. And there was a part of me that just wanted to be with the ones I loved the most, and they weren’t here anymore,” she said. Supercorp gave her something to care about again until she could ask for the help she needed.
Megan said that “the beauty of life” is that “the smallest, seemingly inconsequential things can change everything.”
Though she believed Supercorp saved her life, Megan still thought the entire relationship was an example of queerbaiting.
“It’s like they’re so entangled in each other’s lives, but they were written to be that way. They’re not autonomous characters,” she said of Lena and Kara. “I mean, the hundredth episode showed that without each other, then they both kind of cease to exist in a certain way.”
Demitra Zatica, the public-relations moderator of Supercorp Zine, which describes itself as a place “created to celebrate the love” between Lena and Kara, said she was hesitant to watch “Supergirl” after learning about Lena and Kara’s relationship because of the storyline on another CW show, “The 100,” where Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), a popular queer character, was killed.
Lexa’s death sparked an outcry among fans and widespread discussions about the harmfulness of the “Bury Your Gays” trope, in which LGBTQ characters are disproportionately killed in devastating or traumatic ways.
Lena and Kara survived the series finale, but Zatica told Insider before it aired that she believed the characters would be stronger if they were depicted as a romantic “power couple.”
Representatives for the CW did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on accusations of queerbaiting in “Supergirl.”
Although the cast of “Supergirl” and its writers have publicly maintained that Kara and Lena are just friends, it hasn’t stopped the actors behind the ship, Benoist and McGrath, from acknowledging Supercorp fans, signing fan art of the pairing, and accepting copies of Supercorp magazine that were gifted to them, said “Televised Podcast,” a podcast that recaps “Supergirl” and other TV shows, and fans Insider spoke with.
Supercorp fans held out hope that the show would ultimately make their ship canon, but it never happened
Many Supercorp shippers weren’t expecting something as big as a kiss in the finale when Lena and Kara discussed how they’d affected each other’s lives.
But the writers using the word “friends” in the scene’s script was offensive to some viewers, including Amanda Exposito, a Supercorp fan from Brazil.
“It is a shame that after all these years they really ended Supercorp’s story with ‘friends,’ the same word that has been used on the show, that has been used by homophobic fans and actors since the beginning to avoid discussing the love of two women,” she wrote in an email to Insider after the finale aired.
Zari was similarly disturbed by the way the scene emphasized friendship.
“Maybe the writers think acting super gay is canceled out by using words like that,” Zari said in her email about the finale.
The way the scene was shot made Zari believe Lena and Kara were going to kiss, so she was disappointed that the two hugged instead. And the fandom’s disappointment, as a whole, was loud on social media.
The phrases “SUPERGIRL IS GAY” and “SUPERCORP KISSED” trended on Twitter after the series finale aired, with the latter referring to an alleged set photo being circulated on social media that appeared to show an alternate version of Lena and Kara’s conversation, in which the two kissed.
(The CW has not addressed whether the photo is real or fabricated, and representatives for the network didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.)
Megan told Insider in a statement after the finale that while the fandom felt “anger,” she chose to focus on the positive influence the Supercorp fandom had had on so many. Supercorp Zine, for instance, donates its proceeds to The Trevor Project, Transgender Law Center, and Futures Without Violence — organizations that have some connection to the characters on “Supergirl” or its cast members.
Megan said, “The dust will settle, the anger and the memory of the show will fade, but the people it brought together will last far longer.”