This week on Supergirl: Sanvers is headed toward a breakup, in true CW fashion, so let’s talk about it.
Spoilers: no one has actually died, thank goodness, but there are spoilers through Supergirl season three, episode four “The Faithful.”
Relationships don’t last on The CW. It’s a running joke that if you love a pairing on the network, don’t get your hopes up because the writers love drama more than romance. So when Alex Danvers and Maggie Sawyer got engaged at the end of Supergirl’s second season, avid CW viewers knew that spelled the end of the beloved pair, but it didn’t stop LGBT fans from getting excited. Since their beginning, Sanvers has been a high point in a sophomore season full of lows, but even with their awesome and vocal fanbase, Sanvers still has problems in their representation, an issue that has become all the more glaring in season three of Supergirl.
Despite knowing The CW’s poor track record with relationships, fans became elated at the thought of a big, gay wedding on Supergirl, full of hope that they might finally get the spotlight they deserve. And then a few days after the finale, The CW announced that Floriana Lima, the actress who plays Maggie, would only be returning to Supergirl season three in a limited capacity. Considering that as a “series regular,” Maggie existed solely as a partner for Alex, appearing briefly in most episodes, a limited return spelled the end of the pair.
Through four episodes of season three, it’s clear that the writers don’t intend for Maggie to stick around on the show, even in a long-distance situation, which means Sanvers is doomed to break up. With hints of arguments over the wedding and the possibility of children, Sanvers is likely going to break up (likely in the next episode) over a difference of how they see their future, and honestly, that’s probably the best outcome.
The Writers Don’t Know What To Do With Sanvers
Alex’s coming out journey has been one of, if not the, best arc on Supergirl. It was a slow enough burn that it gave viewers time to appreciate Alex’s struggle, but also didn’t needlessly draw out her pain for the sake of tension. Chyler Leigh brought a depth to Alex’s emotions that resonated, especially with LGBT fans. It was obvious from her coming out speeches to both Maggie and Kara that the writers took their time researching how important such a moment is to a queer person and it was handled delicately.
However, once Alex and Maggie became a couple, the writers had no idea what to do with them. Their relationship was filled with drama that boiled down mostly to an absurd lack of communication. Even in season three, I find it hard to believe that Maggie would have such a hard stance on children if Alex had opened up to her fiancé the same way she did with Kara. (And maybe she will, but it will likely be too late.) Instead, the pair has been forced to bicker and then make up over the course of around five minutes per episode in an attempt to give them a story arc, but all it has done is disconnect the pair from the rest of Supergirl. Given their lack of screen time, it’s no wonder that fans had a hard time connecting with the relationship.
Sanvers Never Fit Into The Supergirl Story
Even worse than the lack of screen time was the separation between Sanvers and the rest of the plots on Supergirl. Despite being a detective in National City who knows the truth about Supergirl, Maggie hasn’t been given an opportunity to work more fully with the DEO, thereby giving her a chance to develop her character separate from Alex. Instead, Maggie has been treated as a secondary character, one whose background and demeanor has been reduced to cliches for the sake of how it might impact her relationship. Because of Maggie’s inherent distance from Supergirl and the DEO, she never became fully integrated into that world, especially not when compared to how the writers find ways to integrate Mon-El, Winn, and James more into the plots. And with that, Maggie was always seen as a girlfriend first and a detective second.
Alex’s Development Suffered Because of Sanvers
This one hurts to write. I hate even reading that I wrote that Sanvers might at all be a negative influence for Alex, but at the end of the day, with the writers not knowing how to integrate Maggie into the story, Alex was pushed to the outside as well. It was as though the writers only had a limited amount of time Chyler Leigh could be on screen and instead of showing her as the self-sacrificing sister of Kara Danvers or the badass DEO agent, they relied on her being the other half of Sanvers.
In place of Alex’s protective presence, the writers put Mon-El as the forefront, the one who would “protect Kara against all others.” When Kara was in danger, it was Mon-El, not Alex, who tried to save her. Because of this emphasis on the two romantic relationships, instead of the sisters, Supergirl, and Alex, fell to the wayside. On the DEO side of things, J’onn stayed at the forefront (and admittedly, even his role was limited), so Alex was left to make brief appearances in fight sequences, leaving her story separate from Team Supergirl.
The Future for Alex and Sanvers
Maggie had the chance to become a wonderful, beloved character, but she was never given the opportunity to shine like some of the other recurring characters on Supergirl. (And I don’t blame Lima for not wanting to stay on as a character who was given such a short straw.) Maybe Maggie can return to the series later on, as it looks as though the Supergirl writers are going the smart route and NOT killing off her character. Until then, she will leave and Alex will be left to pick up the pieces. And we will all mourn the breakup together.
I hope that this shift gives Supergirl a chance to focus more on Alex’s development but moreover to learn from their experiences with Sanvers. I hope that the writers learn that while it’s important to represent the LGBT community, it’s more important to treat that community with respect. I hope that whoever Alex dates next (and I hope she’s given that time to date), she is given the time and development she deserves.
And I hope that Alex meets Sara Lance in the crossover and all of my smutty dreams come true.
Until then, I’m sorry, Sanvers. I loved you for the little time you were on my television.
Supergirl airs Mondays on The CW at 8pm EST.