The crazy thing about the Supergirl pilot is that it is dense. It is so packed with information and story threads that it almost feels like the first three episodes of the season smashed into 43 minutes. However, Arrow and The Flash head honcho Greg Berlanti has another hit on its hands.

Supergirl starts out with a couple minutes dedicated to Kara Zor-El’s origin story, letting you know why she’s on Earth and how she got here after her cousin, the more well-known Superman. After that, you learn she’s taken a job at National City’s big newspaper / online news site. She’s an assistant to Calista Flockhart’s Cat, who seems inspired by Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Soon after that, you’re introduced to twist after twist, adding story thread after story thread. It’s a bit much, but the show does a good job letting you know exactly what this season is going to be like. We learn who Supergirl is going to fight, firstly. Turns out a prison from Krypton followed Kara to Earth, and it’s filled with super people that want revenge on Kara’s mother, who put them in jail. The only way to do that is to get Kara.

By the way, many of the emotional beats from Man of Steel are present in Supergirl. Kara wants to embrace who she is and help people, but her family tells her not to expose herself. There’s even a moment where Kara saves people but it shouted for it, just like Clark Kent after he saves the school bus in Man of Steel. There are also several beats where Kara messes up saving people, causing collateral damage. She defends herself by saying it’s her first time, similar to the defense many people have claimed for Superman’s carnage at the end of Man of Steel.

Also, Superman is like a hanging shadow over this show. They show him sometimes, but he never speaks and they never say his name. It’s always “that alien” or “my friend in blue” or “my cousin” in Kara’s case. I wonder how many times they can keep talking around him rather than mentioning him, because it seems clear they’re avoiding him for a reason. I just hope that doesn’t get distracting.

The thing that makes Supergirl sing is how good-natured and ernest it is. If you’ve seen Arrow and The Flash, you know that they’re not exactly tight dramas. They’re loose and fun and goofy, and Supergirl is the same, except that it feels more bright and fun than the other two. A lot of that is due to the breezy and charming acting, led by Supergirl herself Melissa Benoist.

Benoist is absolutely charming, and she sings in every scene. It’s clear she’s a star and is perfectly capable of carrying this show all the way. She’s fun to watch and brings a very goofy and endearing spirit to Kara. Her “disguise” at work is awkward and bumbling, just like Christopher Reeve established for his Clark Kent long ago (I do hope Henry Cavill’s Clark Kent is in the same vein). However, her Supergirl is also a little bumbling, except less so. She’s so young and happy to embrace her powers that it’s infectious. Watching her geek out while watching news coverage of her heroic endeavors put a big damn smile on my face, for instance.

The rest of the cast is also quite entertaining. Flockhart’s Cat feels like a fun boss for Kara, reminding me a little of J Jonah Jameson. Mehcad Brooks’ Jimmy Olsen has been through all this shit before, and he brings a charming confidence and calming influence on the craziness that’s going on. His rapport with Benoist is also wonderful, and that chemistry is clearly going to be used throughout the season. Chyler Leigh and Jeremy Jordan also do solid work, adding two trusted friends into Kara’s inner circle.

Supergirl is fun and charming and, yes, very goofy, but it’s also extremely feminist. The show lays it on quite thick, making you sure you know how proud it is to be a show about a female superhero, and how she doesn’t need men to clean up her mess. There’s even a pretty great bit that takes on the Supergirl vs Superwoman naming.

There’s a lot of potential in Supergirl. The pilot feels like a pilot, and it’s trying very, very hard to let you know everything you need to know about this season in a single episode. Here’s the big bad, here’s our structure, here’s the backstory, here’s how all these characters will relate. It does a good job of setting a fun foundation, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they play with it.

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