In last week’s Supergirl, the SANVERS breakup hurt our hearts, so we needed a roundtable to talk about why that ship might have deserved better. Check out our thoughts, along with our friends Fangirlish!
Last week’s Supergirl was an emotional one. In the midst of Kara trying to clear Lena’s name from accusations about lead poisoning of children (something that’s way too real, given the ongoing situation in Flint, MI), we also witnessed the official end to SANVERS. Once Alex realized that her dream of being a mother was something she couldn’t give up, even for the sake of her love with Maggie, the prospect of compromise dwindled. In the end, the two of them went their separate ways.
Our friends at Fangirlish wanted to take the opportunity to do a special roundtable to talk about our feels about the SANVERS ship, their break-up, and some of the character and story decisions made behind-the-scenes (in addition to this week’s roundtable for The Flash).
Team Fangirlish came up with the awesome questions, which I’ve included below along with my responses and Alyssa’s (Fangirlish) and Lizzie’s (Fangirlish) contributions. The full roundtable post includes a total of TEN contributors, so definitely check it out HERE for more about SANVERS in “Damage”!
1. Let’s talk Sanvers. Can you talk about your feelings for the couple from their introduction to before you learned Floriana Lima was leaving. Did you ship it? What did the couple mean to you?
Funmbi: When it became clear that SANVERS was happening, I was totally here for it for several reasons. I loved the idea of Alex finding love. She’s always had so much love to give and Alex certainly deserved to experience the joy of a romantic relationship. Maggie seemed to be such a good match for Alex. From the time they went on their crime fighting adventure to expose the underground alien fight club, you could tell that these were two women on the same level. As SANVERS got to know one another (and we got to know them), we saw that Alex and Maggie brought important things to the relationship. Maggie helped Alex to embrace and acknowledge an essential part of her identity. And Alex gave Maggie the experience of having a family that accepted her whole self, without question. Finally, LGBTQ representation in entertainment is critical, even in the DCTV universe, so SANVERS was a fantastic addition to that.
Alyssa: Sanvers was one of those unexpected ships that came our way last season. Like Lizzie, Alex Danvers was easily my favorite character in Supergirl’s first season. So I was clamoring for more of Alex’s story — not just her being Kara’s sister. I wanted to know Alex Danvers the person. And Sanvers was a huge storyline that defined her as an individual. The more we got between Alex and Maggie, the more I loved. They had a natural chemistry and a beautiful relationship in which they helped each other become better versions of themselves. That’s rare to find on television, especially in an LGBT relationship. This representation matters. And it was wonderful to see it done right. I shipped it. I shipped it like UPS.
Lizze: Alex Danvers was my favorite character in Season 1, and Alex Danvers remained my favorite character in season 2. Maybe because, like her, I feel like I am a big sister above many other things, and that sometimes means that you put things on hold because it’s for the best of your sibling. So, to me, it was particularly exciting to see Alex get a storyline, to see her going through this process of figuring out who she was, falling in love with Maggie and just going for it. I always loved Alex more, but I enjoyed Sanvers, I shipped it and in a TV landscape that in general, seemed to be treating LGBT relationships like an afterthought, I was glad Supergirl was allowing them a chance to go through all the milestones.
2. Did Floriana Lima’s decision to leave make you reevaluate your feelings for the couple? What did you think/hope the writers were going to do with the storyline? What would you have done, had it been in your control?
Funmbi: I actually didn’t know that Floriana would be leaving until after Season 3 started. It didn’t at all change my feelings for SANVERS, but I’ve been incredibly concerned about how the break-up would come. I was really hoping Maggie wouldn’t end up being killed off, so in that regard, I’m OK with the writers’ story decision. I wonder if just replacing Floriana with another actress was ever considered. Anywho, my priority has been for the relationship to end in such a way that healing and closure would be possible for Alex. Yes, she would hurt for awhile, but I certainly didn’t want the split with Maggie to close off the potential for an HEA. Alex deserves to be happy!
Alyssa: I don’t think it was Floriana’s decision to leave that made me reevaluate my feelings towards Sanvers. It was more how the writers were choosing to close the chapter. While Floriana’s decision to leave certainly was heartbreaking, if Supergirl had managed to do justice to their storyline and found a way to maintain the aspect of their relationship that made it such an amazing dynamic last season, then I think things would’ve been as good as they could be. It was going to suck no matter what because one half of an amazing ship wasn’t going to be seen on our televisions on a consistent basis, but I would’ve chosen to do justice to the couple and to the many fans that have found a personal connection with Sanvers. I would’ve found a way to send Maggie away — on good terms — with the option of bringing her back.
Lizze: I think more than that I just started bracing for the inevitable end and really, really hoped they were not going to kill Maggie off, which I totally understand is a very low bar to set, but that’s where we are these days, still. And they didn’t, which I’m glad, but I honestly …would have gone another way with it. I guess this all depends on issues whose answers we’re not privy to, like possible future availability, and the like, and if there was just no way they were getting Floriana back then a clean break was for the best, and to keep Alex tied up to a character that was just never gonna appear on screen was hardly fair ….I just, I didn’t like the storyline that led up to it, and I didn’t like that we didn’t get to see the conversations about the issue that led to their breakup, but that we picked up with them already broken up. It felt like they avoided the most important part, and I feel like they didn’t treat them as they would any other couple, which is what they always stated they were doing.
3. How do you feel about the Floriana Lima in particular, especially considering the latinx controversy and the comments she made equating homophobia to a culture she doesn’t belong to?
Funmbi: Representation matters, but even as we try to expand this inclusion, it must be done in meaningful, respectful, and deliberate ways. The idea of adding a Latinx character to Supergirl is a good one; but if Maggie is supposed to be a Mexican-American woman, it seems to me that, at minimum, the actress should be of Latin American descent. I don’t think Floriana necessarily bears the blame for being cast (this is a responsibility for the writers/casting director); however, she’s definitely responsible for her own words. For Floriana (as an outsider) to mischaracterize an entire culture as homophobic was quite disrespectful.
Alyssa: Honestly, I lost all respect that I had for her. I understand what Floriana wanted to accomplish with diversity, but this was certainly not the way to go about it. You have to understand that there are fans looking at you, the actors to do well by them. Her comments were disingenuous, and things got bad when she wouldn’t even admit that she did anything wrong. While this didn’t affect me personally, it did affect Lizzie, who does an amazing job at laying everything out as it is. It was the kind of thing that could affect your feelings towards a character because of how deeply rooted the lack of awareness and the insensitivity of it all.
Lizze: This is a personal issue to me, and I’ve been deeply offended, not just by her insensitive comments, because that can be chalked up to ignorance, but by the way she’s doubled down on the notion that she did nothing wrong, refused to apologize and just dismissed valid concerns with a hand wave and a that’s not what I meant. Do I think she was malicious? No. But, truly, who cares if it’s not what you meant? If you don’t explain what you meant, then how are people to know? The most offensive part, obviously, for me, is that she even dared to speak about a culture she doesn’t belong to because she got a tan and a role as a Mexican – which she is categorically not.
So, yes, this soured me on the actress for good, and it soured me on the character. I lost any and all attachment to Sanvers, and honestly, started counting the days till she was gone. Even skipped her scenes for an episode, because looking at her just made me too angry. And for me, unless I see a real acknowledgment from her or an actual attempt to understand why people are upset, then …well, I’ll let a gif say it:
4. Do you think Sanvers deserved better? Did Maggie? Who’s ultimately responsible for the fate of the ship – the writers, the actress, or is it a shared blame kind of thing?
Funmbi: SANVERS totally deserved better. I’ve already mentioned this, but was the idea of replacing Floriana with another (preferably Latinx actress) ever floated? *SIGH* The scenes of Alex and Maggie in their home, going back and forth with each other again and again, unable to move beyond the impasses, were heartbreaking. I don’t know that I think break-up sexy times were a good idea, but I get that maybe the characters needed that closure. Ultimately, Alex and Maggie deserved the opportunity to be their authentic selves and have their stories told with respect. The hope is that, as Alex moves forward, the writers will learn lessons from the SANVERS/Floriana situation.
Alyssa: Sanvers definitely deserved better. While Floriana certainly deserves blame for her fakeness in Maggie’s portrayal, ultimately Sanvers’ fate rests with the writers. They knew that Floriana was leaving. They knew that there was no way to make this not hurt fans of the couple. But the absolute last thing you want to do as writers to fans of one of your most popular ships is do them wrong. There wouldn’t have been injustice in bringing Sanvers relationship to an end, or a pause, if done right. But the writers didn’t really seem to put any effort into it. They found an issue — children — and just pounded the message home. They destroyed the aspect of Sanvers that had been a staple: communication. In season 2, Alex and Maggie knew each other like the back of their hands. Then in season 3, that all seemed to vanished. They became something else; something unrecognizable. They were different. And not for the better.
Lizze: I think Sanvers did, not so much Maggie. The couple deserved to be treated, in all respects, as they would treat a heterosexual couple, and I don’t know if they always did that. As for the character, she’s very much tied to her performer so even though, yes, Maggie probably deserved more of a background and S2 should have given it, Floriana chose to leave and she’s at least partly responsible for the fact that this story is over. This wasn’t just a writing decision, it was an actor choosing to move on for a role and the writers trying to do the best they could under the circumstances. Does that mean the writers did the best they could have? No. But it’s not all on them, because they probably didn’t plan to be in a position where they’d have to write her out in the first place.
5. Was the issue that made them break-up a valid issue for a couple to break up? How do you feel the show handled their two different perspectives in this regard?
Funmbi: The difference of opinion on wanting to have children is totally a legitimate reason to break up. Sure, we wish Alex and Maggie would have had that discussion before getting engaged, but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles. I never think anyone should be pressured into having children when they don’t want to, and there is no shame in it. At the same time, if Alex wants to be a mother, she shouldn’t have to give up that dream. Yes, Alex and Maggie love each other, but I said this last week and I still believe it: it sucks, but sometimes love isn’t enough.
Alyssa: Oh most definitely. This is the kind of thing that can and should make or break a relationship. But the fact that this wasn’t something that Alex and Maggie had talked about before getting engaged was troublesome. Because Alex and Maggie had always been good at communicating with each other. This issue just sort of arose out of nowhere, and the way it was handled after that certainly didn’t help matters. We saw Alex try to make it work — for what Maggie wanted, even though she couldn’t force her feelings down forever. But Maggie just sort of dismissed her feelings. Maggie made this Alex’s fault. She blamed this issue on Alex. She ultimately blamed their breakup on Alex, which is petty as hell. It compromised Maggie’s character in a way, for me.
Lizze: Totally. I don’t think this is an issue you can compromise on when both parties are so sure of what they want, and I don’t think either of them is wrong, they just want different things. I did not like, however, how the show made Maggie kinda absolve herself of guilt and put this on Alex, suggesting that she was enough and kinda asking Alex to justify her decision to want kids. That part was wrong, and sad, and kinda like the writers were choosing a side, and they shouldn’t have, not if they wanted to do this storyline justice.
6. What do you want to see from Alex Danvers going forward?
Funmbi: I love that Kara made the executive decision that she and Maggie would be going home. It will be good for both of them to be with their mother. Plus, Kara has been mourning a relationship too. I hope that they can lean on each other. Both of them can take this time, away from work and National City, to heal.
Alyssa: I want to see Alex Danvers move forward. She found a big part of herself in this relationship with Maggie, and I want her to understand that she wasn’t defined by one person. I want Alex Danvers to be happy, most importantly. I want her to mourn Maggie — grief is important — I want her to lean on her family and friends, I want her to become the mom she yearns to be, I want her to love again, and I want her to keep being the badass she is.
Lizze: I’d love to get a chance to see her and Kara bond, and mourn, and just feel the things she has to feel. I really don’t want her alone, though, I don’t want her to go back to the Alex that just had her job and Kara. I want Alex to have a full life, and find love again, and be a mom. That’s what she deserves.
7. If the writers were able to bring Maggie back – even if just at the end of the show, to give Alex a happy ending of sorts, would you want that? What’s the best-case scenario here?
Funmbi: I don’t think that would be a good idea. I mean, I guess Maggie could change her mind out children, but that wouldn’t feel very genuine to me. SANVERS is done. Let Alex mourn, heal, and move on, either as a single mother or with another woman she’s fallen in love with and chosen to start a family with too. If we see Maggie later on, let her meet Alex as a friend. I want Maggie to have resolved her relationship with her parents, whether that means her parents evolve beyond their homophobia, or Maggie closes the door to that relationship and heals.
Alyssa: Honestly, I wouldn’t. I think moving on from this relationship is what’s best for Supergirl here. Sanvers deserved better. Alex Danvers deserves better. It would feel cheap for Supergirl to just bring Maggie back and seemingly ignore everything that ruined this relationship. You can’t wave a magic wand on the situation. That’s not how this works. There was a sense of finality in Maggie’s exit, and now the best thing is to just simply move on.
Lizze: No, I wouldn’t. I think Maggie was important for Alex, and I know the character was important to so many people, but I think their story is closed and unless one of them is at some point reconsidering their decision on the kids issue – which would be very cliche – then there’s no going back. It’s time to move forward.