Sunday, March 15, 2020

REVIEW: 'Supergirl' - Nia Struggles with Her Responsibilities as a Superhero While Protecting the Trans Community in 'Reality Bytes'

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 5.15 "Reality Bytes"

Nia's roommate, Yvette, is attacked by a man targeting Dreamer because he doesn't like that Dreamer is transgender and wants her to quit being a superhero. Determined to protect her community from additional harm, Dreamer refuses to give into his threats and puts herself in the line of fire to stop him. Supergirl stands by Dreamer and enlists additional help from Brainy. Alex, J'onn and Kelly attempt to rescue a man stuck inside a virtual reality escape room.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Supergirl.

"Reality Bytes" was written by Dana Horgan & Jay Faerber and directed by Armen V. Kevorkian

The drama was groundbreaking during its fourth season with the inclusion of the first transgender superhero. The way that hearts and minds are changed is by depicting inclusive stories that show the complexity of human lives and ensuring that acceptance is normalized no matter what. Nicole Maines as Nia Nal has been one of the best cast additions to the show so far. This season hasn't exactly given her a lot of strong material though. She has largely been sad about her recent breakup with Brainy, which was a questionable decision made on murky terms to say the least. As a result, the audience may no longer even want Nia and Brainy to reunite as a couple. She is going through this difficult time and he has kept his distance. He has made her feel heartbroken and confused. That is absolutely devastating and can't be magically fixed with a simple answer eventually. He does help her when her community is attacked here. He just does so from afar. It will take hard and transparent work to earn back that trust. That is especially apparent when Nia is willing to kill a guy because he targets the transgender community. It's so heartbreaking and devastating that the murders of trans people is an underreported story. Kara is baffled at what the numbers actually are. She has to better educate herself in order to be the reassuring voice of comfort that Nia needs during this trying time. Nia's roommate, Yvette, is attacked simply because she is a trans woman living in the same city as a trans superhero. That's the only correlation. A heinous man believes he has the power to oppress and abuse this community simply because he views Dreamer as a despicable creature who has no business being a superhero. He sees a symbol of dishonesty even though she publicly came out in order to empower her community and ensure that they were seen as powerful no matter what. That's the identity Dreamer wears. She saves the city and is praised by its citizens. There are always positive news stories about her saving the day with Supergirl and the DEO. But this hatred of trans identity still exists. It has to be addressed as well. It can't be ignored. People are living in fear that their true selves will be shunned and attacked. They should be living proudly. They should be accepted and uplifted no matter what. The temptation to just give up or cross the lines of morality is very real and stark. Nia is willing to kill. Yvette is willing to stop dreaming of having happiness and acceptance. That can't be the answer though. They have to trust that the world will allow them to be free and loved. They can have everything that a person can want in this world. They are entitled to it just as much as anyone else. They deserve it. No one can deny them from wanting it and accepting it. It's just as important for allies of the trans community to speak up as well. Kara is that voice here. She doesn't always understand everything Nia is feeling. But she provides her support no matter what in order to preserve the wonderful woman she knows Nia is. That is beautiful and very inspiring. Elsewhere, J'onn and Alex delve into the morality of virtual ethics. That too is a topical discussion and one that fits into the overall story of the season. Yes, that means it has a bit more focus on the long game and setting up the current mystery around Leviathan. But it does remain fairly grounded in Alex trying to find her way in a shaken world where she doesn't have the clarity she once did. She has love and support from Kelly and J'onn. She can rise to the occasion to help Trevor escape this virtual prison. In doing so, it may lead his captor straight into the arms of Leviathan and whatever they are planning with this technology. Kelly also voices her concern knowing just how life changing this technology can be when it performs properly. If it is susceptible to abuse and corruption though, then lives can forever be damaged or altered. That is horrifying and ensures that an extreme personal cost may always come from embracing technology so fully. It may only be able to imitate real life to a point. After that, the fantasy can be corrosive to whomever happens to be enthralled with it.