Fighting Against Fascism in Supergirl’s “American Dreamer”

Kara Danvers and Dreamer right after the interview

Supergirl 4.19: “American Dreamer”

Robert Rovner, Jessica Queller, Sarah Schechter, Greg Berlanti (Executive Producers), David Harewood (director), Joanie L. Woehler, Jennifer Lence, Carl Ogawa, Derek Simon, Chris Pavoni (producers), Jesse Warn, Gabriel Llanas, Dana Horgan (Supervising Producers), Lindsay Sturman, Rob Wright (Co-Executive Producers) Eric Carasco, Daniel Beaty, Aadrita Mukerji (executive story editors), Katie Rose Rogers (story editor), Jess Kardos and Daniel Beaty (teleplay by), Dana Horgan (story by), Greg Berlanti, Ali Adler, Andrew Kriesberg (developed by), Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster (based on characters by)
Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, David Harewood, April Parker Jones, Chyler Leigh, Nicole Maines, Katie McGrath, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Azie Tesfai (cast)
Aired April 28, 2019 on the CW

Some have said that Supergirl has gotten too political this season, but let’s be honest, those people have said that since the pilot. Supergirl has always been a pretty political show, sometimes doing so better than others. What those people are really mad about this year, is that Supergirl has taken a decidedly hard line with its politics.

Supergirl has always been a show about a woman who is trying to balance the two sides of her identity as a refugee. She has two cultures she is working to embrace, and neither one is perfect. This season has been very much about that balance, especially these last few episodes as anti-alien sentiment in both the populace and the government has ramped up. Supergirl is now a wanted criminal due to Red Daughter’s attack on the White House, and has decided to lay low for awhile while doing good work as reporter Kara Danvers instead.

Which brings us to the real meat of this episode, in that someone has to step up to defend the defenseless while Supergirl is sidelined, and that someone is self-described Gryffindor Dreamer (Nicole Maines). Dreamer spends the episode working as a vigilante, unleashing sleep puns on her enemies as she whips them with dream energy. And while she’s spending a good chunk of her time fighting street level racists, she also comes right up against the primary antagonist of the season, Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer) and his ICE-inspired government hit squad.

Lockwood and his goons have long been the face of fascism in this season, but never as intense as they were tonight. With the Alien Amnesty Act a thing of the past, Lockwood and company have wasted no time to start rounding up aliens for deportation. They raid apartment buildings and Al’s Dive Bar (Hey, the alien bar has a name!) and aliens around the country are living in fear of what’s to come. Even the uniforms of the Alien Affairs crew scream fascism with their heavily emphasized armbands on green fatigues.

The power of the press to win people over is immense, and Kara realizes one of their best options is to help people see aliens as their neighbors and friends, so she does an interview with Dreamer. The interview is a summation of everything we’ve seen from her this season. She feels like the world would be better if we all embraced our differences rather than hated each other because of them. She’s a Gryffindor, and supports House Stark, both of those go in to her desire to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.

Her actions show us similar things, in her pleading with Kara and Brainy to continue fighting despite the odds, but boiling it down to two pop culture references gives the audience an instant connection point. Notably, both franchises mentioned are owned by Warner Brothers, but I feel pretty safe in saying that Nia would also be Team Cap.

Also notable is using a franchise that was created by a transphobe for a trans person’s self identification. While we can’t change how J.K. Rowling behaves, we can still find strength in the world she created. I’m a proud Hufflepuff, and I’m glad Nia is a proud Gryffindor. Courageously, she puts everything out there, and with Brainiac 5’s help, people around the world saw her honest and inspiring speech. Heroes inspire hope in the people they represent and fear in anger in their enemies. She inspires Brainiac 5 to join the fight this episode against Lockwood, and inspires Edna to help Kara with her investigation into Lex Luthor. And she inspires Lockwood to storm the Catco building to try and arrest her, unconstitutionally.

Nicole Maines as Nia Nal/Dreamer, Sam Witwer as Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl
Dreamer and Kara Danvers facing down Agent Liberty after the interview

Dreamer has been a source of that inspiration for me all season long. It’s a dark and scary time for transgender women in America. We have a person who hates us in the White House, and people that support him blindly throughout the country. Our rights are being stripped away, and just this week a conservative leaning Supreme Court took a case that will determine whether trans people can be fired for just being who they are. It could potentially undo years of work by organizations like Lambda Legal and could reverse precedent set by several people, including myself. Facing the erasure of the thing in your life that you are proudest of, the thing you did that made the biggest impact; that’s tough. I’ve been depressed and hurting all week, but seeing a superhero that is someone like me on my screen? That helped. I know that she’d keep fighting, and because of that, I can find more strength to continue fighting too.

Cori McCreery

Cori McCreery

Cori is a life long comic nerd residing in Northern California. A life long Supergirl and DC Comics fan, she is the DC Comics Beat Reporter for Women Write About Comics.