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In which Maggie’s father is a horrible human being.

I don’t feel a compelling need to review Supergirl. Yeah, tv.com staff doesn’t do it anymore. But if I reviewed every show that they didn’t review (even just the ones I watch), I’d go nuts. Sorry, Gotham. Sorry, Supernatural.

But “Far From the Tree” is so... well, far from what the show’s creative team seemed to be doing, and preached so much hatred, that I couldn’t resist.

First the A plot. Or co-plot. Or whatever it is. Hank is heading off to Mars, and Supergirl insists on going with him. They team up with M’gann and her White Martian resistance fighters. They’ve somehow rescued Hank’s father, M’yrnn, who is played by Carl Lumbly. Who some folks recognize from Alias, some recognize his voice from when he did J’onn on Justice League Unlimited (injoke ahoy!), some from the late Zoo, and some from any of the other several dozen shows he’s done over the years.


Anyhoo, M’yrnn knows where a secret psychic weapon is. The resistance fighters need to get it before the White Martians do so that the Whites don’t wipe them out with it. Hank needs to convince M’yrnn that he’s his son. For some reason, plain old telepathy won’t do. So father and son do one round of “I haf no son!”, and then Hank shares memories of his fatherhood with M’yrnn, and M’yrnn realizes that Hank is his son instead of a shapeshifted White.

They find the Staff, and Supergirl does a Britney Spears impersonation to distract the Whites so that the resistance can fight them. When the Staff releases a psychic wave, Supergirl grabs it and uses it to kill the Whites. Because that’s the kind of homicidal maniac that she is, and apparently it can be set to Disintegrate as well as Psychic Wave O’Pain. Hank brings M’yrnn back to Earth, where hopefully we’ll be seeing Carl Lumbly again.


On to the B plot. Eliza decides to throw Alex and Maggie a wedding shower. Maggie is all conflicted about her family and at Alex’s urging, decides to invite her father Oscar, who is a sheriff. Even though Maggie hasn’t seen her parents since they kicked her out of the house and sent her to live with her aunt when Maggie was 14 years old. So if Maggie was born in 1981 like Floriana Lima was, that would mean it was 1995. Oscar accepts the invitation, and initially things go well. But then he sees Alex and Maggie kissing and storms out. Maggie goes after him and Oscar says that he earned the respect of the “white boys”, but now they’re building a wall to keep out illegal immigrants and “they” think that Mexicanos are rapists and murderers. And since the only thing “they” hate more than Mexicanos is lesbians, Oscar hates that Maggie is a lesbian. Not only that, but he essentially hates her, thinking that she spits in his face and has been since 1995. They don’t make up, and he goes home.


The whole thing is just wrong on so many levels. Oscar is initially played as a mildly sympathetic character, and they make it appear that he and Maggie are going to make up. It would have been clichéd, but it would have been better than what we got.

What we get is Oscar as a bigot. Trump wasn’t doing much of anything in 1995: Clinton was President. So Oscar basically kicked his 14-year-daughter out of the house and his life because she was a lesbian. If we’re to believe his story, it’s because he knew that 21 years later Trump would talk about illegal immigrants being rapists and murderers. That’s pretty prophetic.


But let’s say that attitude was floating around in 1995. Oscar kicked his daughter out of the house because he claims that people hate lesbians more than Mexicanos. Say what? Dude, if you’re kicking your own daughter out of your house, that’s on you. Even if what Oscar is saying was true in 1995, he responded to hatred of lesbians by… hating his daughter the lesbian. And continuing to hate her. Through the Bush 43 administration, through the Obama administration.

So despite the creative team’s efforts to make Oscar a vaguely sympathetic character, they make him at least as big a bigot as the people they’re apparently trying to condemn. If Oscar just started hating lesbians (or at least Maggie as a lesbian) in 2015, which might make sense. It still makes him out to be a bigot, but okay, he’s responding to bigotry.


But this is a guy who has been nursing a hate-on against his daughter for 22 years. Even if he (and the creative team ) are condemning Americans for the last 22 years, Oscar is still a bigot. Having an active bigot condemn a different bigotry just leaves a bad bad taste in my mouth.

What is it with superhero TV this season? You’ve got the Royal Family on Marvel’s Inhumans supporting and perpetuating slavery, and the "villain" putting a stop to it, at least initially. Are they going to have seal-clubbing parties on Agents of SHIELD this season? Team Flash destroy abortion clinics?

Now you’ve got Supergirl and a character mouthing bigotry against lesbians as if it’s understandable or at least unanswerable. And it’s not a villain, it’s not a vaguely villainous character like Morgan Edge or Lillian Luthor. It’s a vaguely likeable guy (up to the point where he starts spouting his message of hate) who doesn’t like the current attitude, essentially saying to Maggie, “I’m going to hate you as a lesbian and it’s okay, because people hated me and beat me when I came to America.”


I get that it’s another in the creative team’s stabs at the current political structure. Boo, Trump. Got it. But the message gets lost when you’ve got a jerk of a character saying it and you let him get away with it. I don’t care what the message is: you’ve got a father who kicked his 14-year-old daughter out of the house for good and refused to speak to her for 22 years saying that message. You’ve picked the wrong character to be your frontman. Don’t throw in a few bonding scenes to make it palatable. Don’t have him try to justify his bigotry in the most ham-handed and wrong way possible. Don’t try to make it sound like he has a legitimate if twisted point of view. He doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s the seeds of a well-rounded three-dimensional character here. And social commentary on how bigotry creates bigotry. And the irony of someone saying “I endured for my children so that you would never have to face that kind of hatred.” while indulging in a similar kind of hatred. Or Maggie being unable to respond to her father’s hate. But having the father of a near-main character doing that, and tossing it off with “They're building a wall to keep us out because in their minds, we are nothing but rapists and murderers.” ain’t the way to do it. The creative team is taking another stab at Trump, not trying to give anything close to a well-rounded presentation of a character falling prey to the bigotry he says that he’s trying to avoid. Or a daughter torn between love of a father and hatred of his bigotry.


Most of that would be tragic. But it's not presented as a tragedy for Oscar: it's just another obstacle in the Alex/Maggie wedding, with a side of Trump-bashing.

What Oscar did to Maggie was arguably crueler than what the "white boys" did to him. Ribs heal. You get accepted by your community and elected sheriff. It sucks bad and it shouldn't happen, but Oscar got better and enough people came around to vote him sheriff. Maggie suffered and is still suffering from her father's bigotry.

Heck, if the creative team was trying to show that Mexicano immigrants are just as bad as Americans, that would have been an interesting political statement. But they ain't that subtle. Or if they were that subtle, they missed it. By a lot.

So bad, bad creative team.

What should the creative team done? Glad you asked! Have someone call Oscar on his bullshit. Maggie doesn’t attack his bigotry or point out the contradictions: she defends herself. But if it seems out of character to have her attack her father, have Alex go with her and have her do it. Or have Eliza go after them. She’s a parent with a lesbian daughter, and Helen Slater didn’t have much to do this episode. Eliza should have gotten into it with Oscar.


But having Oscar rattle off his bigotry and no one call him on it is in TV writing essentially letting him get away with it.

Essentially the creative team tries to present "both sides". Because heaven forbid they offend Mexicanos. Oscar can't just be a bigot: he has to have been beaten by white bigots and that's what led to his POV. But when it comes to kicking your 14-year-old child out of the house, there is no "both sides". Some shit is just wrong, and that is shit that is wrong. It's bigoted, and Oscar is a bigot. Don't sugarcoat the character by having him carry a photo of Maggie around with him.

Also, is it just me, or is taking potshots at Trump when Trump isn't the President in the Supergirl universe just... weird? Marsdin is the President: she was President in Spring 2017, and they established Cat was her press secretary in the season 3 premiere. So all the anti-alien stuff and bigotry and what-not is Marsdin's fault, not a Trump who wasn't President and isn't President in their reality. He might have ran as a candidate and said the rapists and murderers line. But everything Presidential-ish in 2017 falls on Marsdin, not Trump.

For instance, Oscar says that now they're building a wall. Present tense. So... Marsdin wants to build a wall? Bad, bad Marsdin. It can't be Trump wanting a wall, because he's not in office in the Supergirl-verse.


Oscar says I'm building a wall right now, so... I'm building a wall. I thought that was the other guy who presumably lost to me, but... all-righty. But my wall will be invisible, because I'm Wonder Freakin' Woman.

At the very least, the political history of the Supergirl-verse must be so different from ours that using it as real-world political commentary is meaningless. Every time they say something about Trump... they're saying it about Marsdin.

The episode ends with Maggie telling Alex that she doesn’t want children but not because of her family situation. Yeah, right. And Alex agreeing in about the most unconvincing way possible. So you can bet they’re going to run aground on that.


So overall, kudos for giving us Carl Lumbly and more for Hank to do. Thumbs way down for using a bigot to make a political commentary and not calling him on his bigotry.

But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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Oct 26, 2017
  • I'm just glad the writers didn't make Oscar's homophobia religiously-based. As a Mexican immigrant, it would've been way too easy to write him as a hardcore Catholic.
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Oct 27, 2017
We don't know the reason for Oscar's homophobia. It doesn't seem to link up with his beating beaten by "white boys", at least not anywhere near directly.

"I was beaten up by anti-immigration types, so I'm homophobic" doesn't really line up.
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Oct 29, 2017
I think his logic was "I didn't work my way up from the bottom to be accepted and give my family a normal life just so my daughter could be an outcast."
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Oct 29, 2017
That's how it's presented. But it's no really "logic", since Oscar is the one making Maggie an outcast. Regardless of what he says, it comes across more as either his honor being offended, his being a bigot, or both.
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Oct 26, 2017
Yea, Trump is the “build the wall” person but I don’t necessarily see it as a Trump specific criticism. More of a general commentary on the state of the world. I mean Trump wasn’t giving those speeches in his bathroom mirror. And the crowds neither booed nor exited in mass, quite the opposite.  At this point, it’s infeasible for Supergirl or the larger “arrow-verse” to have zero real world parallels. Nor is it necessary for every issue to have the same real world origin. With all that said, “Tony” was the worst possible preacher for this week’s sermon. His past bigotry, which he apparently still maintains, has nothing to do current affairs or even the sociopolitical realities of 20 years ago.


On the heavy handedness, I’m conflicted.  On the one hand, there is little point in obfuscating or being subtle about aversion to bigotry and the like. On the other hand, it should not have been the most memorable thing about the episode.
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Oct 27, 2017
Trump isn't just the "build the wall" person. He also said that Mexican immigrants are rapists, which is the other thing that Oscar mentioned.

And let's not forget all the other zingers they had at Trump this season, including Cat trashing the president's opponent who has no idea what he's doing and just says he wants to make america great again.

It's pretty obvious they are sending jabs at Trump.

Which I have no problem with when it's funny (like half the political satires show we have now) or is done in some meaningful way.

But Gislef is right, this was one of the worst jabs I've seen that makes 0 sense considering he kicked his own daughter from out of the house.
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Oct 28, 2017
Yes, the show takes shots at Trump, I'm not denying that.

However, I maintain that in the context of Oscar's speech/rant, Trump's quotes were used as a trope to highlight the favorable or indifferent reactions to them. 

Whether or not those reactions were indicative of anything or a reasonable metric, is open to debate and beyond the scope of this discussion. 

Whatever our interpretations of any given scene, I think we all agree that the whole thing was poorly executed, if not outright ill-advised given the lack of “in-universe” groundwork being laid for such an exchange. I own the naiveté but I thought they lived in a racial utopia and just had alien bigotry to contend with.
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Oct 28, 2017
I'm pretty generous about what is and isn't beyond the scope of a discussion on my reviews. :)

Plus, if the show is going to go for political commentary... I don't have a problem with anyone commenting on the show's political commentary.

I would contend, however, that Oscar saying that they're building a wall isn't just quoting Trump (like the "rapists & murderers" line), but saying that whoever the President is, is building a wall. Within the context of the show, someone building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico makes no sense if Marsdin is President.
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Nov 04, 2017
They also did an episode with Wonder Woman last year and one of the characters used the line, "I'm with Her." Subtle this show, or Will and Grace, ain't.
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Oct 28, 2017
It's actually a bit worse than that. As as we've seen, the supposed racist issue currently in the world - is the literal aliens from out of space. That was the whole schtick with Lena's mother.

She had no problem working with african americans, for example.

Which does make some sense, as they pose the major threat to the world. Not just physical but financial as well. Imagine a world filled with super powered beings would create a lot of unemployment as 1 super powered alien = many uneeded people.

So... Why is it back to being white vs other skin colors all of a sudden?
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Oct 28, 2017
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Oct 26, 2017
"Yea, Trump is the “build the wall” person but I don’t necessarily see it as a Trump specific criticism"

Since he's the one who specifically used the phrase, presumably it's specific to him. The fact that other people agreed with him doesn't mean Trump wasn't the one who sparked the movement, so to speak.

Plus Oscar says that they're building a wall. That's not a phrase like "They want to build a wall..." or "They're considering building a wall.." or "A year ago, some jackass was talking about building a wall..." That's an action. So if Trump isn't around to build the wall... who is?

My gripe is primarily that they use anti-immigrant bigotry to "justify" anti-lesbian bigotry. It muddies the waters, so to speak. The creative team goes so far to make it sound like Oscar is justified in his bigotry (which isn't much justification, admittedly, but IMO it's there) and his abandoning his daughter to his sister when she was 14 and not speaking to her since. It's an awful decision that Oscar makes, and the responsibility is with him. He's acting out of bigotry and wounded honor, not because some "white boys" beat him when he was 11.
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Oct 26, 2017
I agree, the whole Trump-criticism seemed displaced. I really think it's great that they want to send a message and stand up against bigotry - but if you want to incorporate real-life-morality-messages into your TV-show, you have do it with subtlety.

When they had Calista Flockhart taking jabs at a fictional Politican for his Trump-like demands, asking "What kind of idiot would do that?" in the same moment, I laughed out loud, I think that was priceless and well done. But also, it was not essential for the story and basically just "background-noise". But this time, they could have let Oscar yell "Fuck Trump and his ideology!", it would have been the same.

I watch these shows (Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, etc.) for entertainment purposes and - like many people do - to escape the daily grind, even if it's just for an hour. So this time, the "anti-Trump"-Moment was kind of annoying since it shifted away the focus from Maggie's problem.
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Oct 26, 2017
It's not just unsubtle, it's contradictory. Trump isn't the president in the Supergirl universe. When they have a character saying "Now they want to build a wall..." that means that it's Marsdin building it. It's not like Republicans in Congress are heavily pushing the wall building. And even if they were, it's not like they have an army of minions to build it. The Executive Branch would have to do/hire the work. Marsdin would (presumably) refuse to do it, it would go to the Supreme Court, and they'd almost certainly rule against Congress under separation of powers.

So either we're supposed to assume that Marsdin is a Trump-like President. Or the whole Constitution thing works differently in the Supergirl universe.

It's almost like the Supergirl creative team would rather snipe at Trump than build a coherent fictional universe. ;) They want to have a female, presumably Democrat President (judging from Cat's comments and political views). But they want to take potshots at (in their setting) a nonexistent male Republican President.
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Oct 26, 2017
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