I’m not angry. I’m sad and disappointed.
Supergirl is the highlight of my Mondays. I cherish it, and the rest of the DCTV shows. They fill me with joy, wonder, and hope. They have so many flaws and problematic elements that I wouldn’t let other shows get away with, but I do because we all need that one thing that we don’t think too much about.
But last night’s episode broke my heart. A couple of months ago I read that the actress who plays Maggie is actually white, despite the character explicitly describing herself as “non-white”.
I was upset but didn’t think too much about it, Maggie should have been bumped up to main cast instead of guest star by now if she was to stay. Season 3 started and seeing her and Alex’s conflicts about marriage confirmed my suspicions, this relationship wasn’t a forever thing. Soon Maggie would become a thing of the past.
Then she referred to her dad as Papi while recounting his awful reaction to her liking girls. Maybe she’s Italian, mixed with something else I thought. But nope, she calls her dad, speaking in pretty bad Spanish which prompts her father to visit her bridal shower.
And the actor who plays her dad? Also white. They get confirmed as Mexican and her dad goes on a tirade about Maggie’s queerness and The Wall (which how does that exist in this world a literal outer space alien is president of the United States) and states that the only thing they hate more than a Mexican is a homosexual. Which I don’t think is even a little bit true. Bigots think queerness can be changed, fixed. Being Latinx can’t be scrubbed away.
Ultimately, her dad doesn’t accept her. I think this type of story needs to be more common, to not constantly chase after shit parents. But when the premise of the rejection is culture and that culture is portrayed by white people, it becomes a sweeping generalization. It becomes a condemnation of all Latinx cultures instead of exploring the nuances in it. It makes Mexican cops bad but white academics/federal agents good. It makes a queer Latina forever an oxymoron.
I expected more, especially from Supergirl. I relate to her because unlike Superman, she came to Earth at 9 years old. She remembers where she’s from. Clark grew up thinking he was human, actually belonging. Kara grew up knowing her home is gone, knowing her people were gone and trying to adapt to this new world that could so easily fear and reject her. People love making Superman the ultimate comic book argument for immigration and refugees when Supergirl is more representative of the exact people bigots hate the most. Those who haven’t completely assimilated.
As the episode ended I was reminded of Carmen from The L Word. When I found out the actress isn’t Latina my world crumpled a little bit. She was the first queer Latina character I saw and connected with after realizing my own queerness. And to have that stripped from me was heartbreaking. I’ve written before about how queer American media constantly overlooks and Americanizes Latinidad and after last night I feel like I’ll never stop.