A little like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory conveyer belt, the CW is churning out superhero shows faster than its audience can eat — er — wrap them.
With an ever increasing number of CW shows trending downwards in ratings each week towards 0.1 and even 0.0 in the coveted 18-49 demographic, DC’s Stargirl, premiering May 19, is a plucky attempt to tempt viewers with something new for their jaded palettes.
The series, set in the DC universe, like so many of his CW siblings, stars Brec Bassinger (Bella and the Bulldogs) as Courtney Whitmore, a regular Los Angeles teenager who finds her life upended when her mother Barbara (Felicity‘s Amy Smart) and stepdad Pat (Luke Wilson, who is a treat in the role) up sticks to the sleepy Nebraska town of Blue Valley.
There, Courtney struggles to fit in, make friends, avoid the local school’s mean girls, not land at the losers table in the cafeteria, and generally run the gamut of challenges and emotions of a normal 15 year old girl. The only difference here is that Courtney’s unassuming stepdad Pat is secretly hiding all manner of superhero paraphernalia in the basement of their new house, and refuses to come clean about his past. When one item in Pat’s collection — the Cosmic Staff — calls to Courtney in a unique way, she comes to believe she is the daughter of the great — and late — superhero, Starman, and that his staff, and mantle, should now fall to her.
Not content to superhero alone, Court decides to recruit others to her cause, namely rebuilding the noble Justice Society of America, an organization once helmed by Starman himself. However not every would-be hero is chomping at the bit to take over as the next Wildcat, or Hourman or Dr. Mid-nite, and Courtney’s chosen motley crew of outcasts, nerds and losers will take some persuading and some training before they are ready to become true superheroes.
Of course, every hero also needs a villain. Luckily Blue Valley is teeming with entire generations of Starman’s nemeses, many of whom were once part of the evil Injustice Society of America, and all of whom are maintaining a veneer of respectability and keeping their shady pasts and double dealings under wraps. The last thing they need right now is a new Supe poking her nose, and staff, where it doesn’t belong.
What Stargirl has that other CW superhero shows have become drained of over the course of their respective seasons is a sense of lighthearted and straightforward fun and optimism. (Think The Flash, and Supergirl season one.) The series is simply joyful in the same manner as a ten year old child – unselfconscious, unpretentious, earnest and fun. Likewise, Bassinger is adorable as the ebullient, charming Courtney, whose infectious sense of can-do powers through moments of doubt and darkness. Wilson is also instantly likeable as the dorky and sensible Pat, and the show is at its best when each acts as the perfect foil for the other.
The villains too are uncomplicated — although perhaps leaning towards one-notedness at times. However after screening 5 episodes in advance, we can see how a generational angle of teenage ‘future villains in training’ will provide material for many episodes to come.
Stargirl sets out to show how one plucky hero ultimately becomes the unlikely inspiration for a new generation of superheroes. Let’s hope the series can do the same for the CW.
DC’s Stargirl stars Brec Bassinger, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Trae Romano, Cameron Gellman, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Meg DeLacy, Neil Jackson, Jake Austin Walker, Christopher James Baker and Hunter Sansone.
The series premieres Tuesday, May 19 (8:00-9:00pm ET) on the CW.
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