As a man of a certain age, I thought my days of swooning over a handsome face on television were behind me.
Back in the day, when I was growing up, I used to look forward to Saturday nights when I tuned in to watch Battlestar Galactica (the classic flavor), so I could gawk at swarthy do-gooder Apollo played by Richard Hatch. While the rest of the country — and junior high girls — melted over Dirk Benedict’s cigar smoking, bad boy Starbuck, I was drawn to Apollo’s brooding and soulful character.
When my sister was in ballet class or playing with her friends, I’d steal into her room to flip through the pages of Teen- and Tiger Beat magazines to scan the latest photos and pin-up centerfolds of the week’s heartthrobs. When she discarded old issues, I rescued the magazines from the trash, tore up the wanted pages, and clipped the images of the stars I was infatuated with. I stashed the photos away in a secret box, and I would only look at them at night, when I was alone, under the protective and invisible shield cover of my bedsheets.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself recently gasping at a new face on television that makes me hold my breath every time it appears on an episode of the CW’s Supergirl. Chris Wood, playing the role of Mon-El is my new kryptonite. Playing opposite Glee alumni Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, he is the perfect contrast to her do-gooding character. His goofy, awkward, dude-like character makes my toes curl every time he steps on screen, my attention hangs on his every word, and whenever the script calls for him to appear shirtless, it is cause for celebration.
The CW has made a hit of television shows that exploit teen angst and alienation. Most of their prime time programming adheres to a formula where parents and adults are misguided and evil and where teens or young adults know and do better. Theirs is a fantasy world of alternative realities full of inclusive, ethnically diverse casts, tolerant and embracing of aliens, misfits, vigilantes, and meta-humans.
The epic, soap-opera-ish story lines brim with enough melodrama to keep one watching week after week in anticipation of what hair-raising twist the plot arcs will take on next. In every show, villains are larger than life and far more evil than the current administration. Actors come in every flavor and shade of beautiful. And it is not difficult to find oneself considering attending a Comic Con gathering in full superhero regalia if only to get a glimpse of your favorite hero/star.
When Supergirl premiered last year on CBS, the show garnered enough fans to save the show when CBS decided not to renew it. The producers moved the cast and crew over to the CW where the rest of the DC Comic world enjoys a solid following, and where it made more sense for the show to thrive. In its new home, Supergirl lost one of the best reasons to watch the first season of the show. Calista Flockhart, playing Cat Grant, added the much needed sarcasm and snark to off-set Kara’s do-gooding nature. But when the show’s production moved to Canada, Ms. Flockhart decided to leave the show, giving way to new characters to step in.
At the end of the first season, a new shuttlecraft from outer space landed in National City with a good looking alien lying unconscious inside. Said alien, we got to find out this season, is Mon-El, last son of Daxam, Krypton’s nemesis planet, and Supergirl’s new love-interest in the latest Romeo and Juliet twist.
When Chris Wood assumed the role of Mon-El, I did not think much of him. In fact, I wanted him off the show. What drew me to watch Supergirl in the first place was the emphasis on making a female-centric show where the hero is a modern day woman learning what being a superhero in today’s world means. I am a fan of stories where strong women are the focus and heroines. I am drawn to strong female leads and characters, which is why Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Kathryn Janeway of Star Trek Voyager is the reason I am a Star Trek fan.
In Supergirl, Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh, is one of the characters I am drawn and more interested in. This season, her character came out as a lesbian, and the way the show’s producers are handling her storyline is worthy of praise. As the second season unfolds, the stories are beginning to intersect and become more complicated, adding Mon-El’s to the mix as he finds his way in a new planet and to Supergirl’s heart.
I had not heard of Chris Wood until his recent crash landing, but in the last few episodes, he’s fast becoming a character to watch and love. Mr. Wood (chuckle) has given Mon-El an awkward but likable bro-like personality that ranges from infuriating to endearing as he learns to fit-in with humans. While we may have missed what Kara went through when she arrived on Earth, we get the full dose of what it’s like for an alien to assimilate in Mon-El’s story. In the hands of Chris Wood, it is easy to watch week after week, particularly when he is scantily clad in boxer briefs and socks in Kara’s apartment, or when a mischievous alien drops him off at DEO headquarters almost naked.
It came to no one’s surprise that Mon-El and Supergirl have a romantic entanglement that was consummated in last week’s Valentine’s day episode, but whatever happily-ever-after afterglow one may have expected after that evening was quickly dispelled in last night’s episode with Mon-El reverting to his dude-like ways and a plot twist that will continue to play itself out until the series’s season finale.
None of this makes for high-brow television. There is nothing deep or enlightening about Supergirl, other than good entertainment and its girl-power affirming message. In National City, women are empowered and supported by their friends and don’t need to be rescued by men. That is all well and good with me, especially when it leaves handsome Mon-El available for someone to keep him company when Supergirl is flying about saving the world. I’d enjoy volunteering for such a role, and would not mind hanging out with him anytime he finds himself free after a night of bartending to aliens. So long as he gives me one of his dimpled smiles, I wouldn’t mind succumbing to his kind of kryptonite.