How does the TV show Supergirl represent gender? Part #10
In the 17th episode of the Supergirl’s second season, we see several examples of the characters breaking gender stereotypes. Last week, I discussed the relationship between Kara and Mon el, and this week, I will be focusing on Mon el’s parents, Rhea and Lar.
Unlike the villains we see in other superhero shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, many of the villains in Supergirl have been female. Some examples are Livewire, Silver Banshee, Bizarro, Astra, Indigo, Lillian Luthor, and now Rhea.
Lar and Rhea are aliens from the planet Daxamite, and previously thought their son, Mon El, had been dead, until they discovered him living on Earth. Lar and Rhea insist on bringing Mon el back to Daxamite, and had made it clear that they will not take no for an answer. However, Mon el wants to stay on Earth because of his girlfriend Kara. Eventually, Lar agrees to let his son go, despite Rhea’s objections.
In the scene below, Lar is presented as being sensitive, because he understands the love Mon el has for Kara, and all Lar wants is for his son to be happy. Rhea, on the other hand, cannot seem to grasp that idea. When Lar hugs his wife, Rhea stabs him, killing him, clearly indicating that she will stop at nothing until she gets her son back.
This scene breaks several gender stereotypes. Despite Lar being the man, husband, and the king of Daxam, he is more submissive, while his wife is more dominant. She is the one truly in control of her kingdom. Before this episode, Lar had listened to every order that his wife gave him with no objections. When he finally did something of his own will, Rhea killed him.
Rhea shows no feelings or emotions for both her son and her husband. She doesn’t care that her son fell in love, she just wants him back for her own selfish gain. She is cold, cunning, and shows absolutely no remorse for murdering her husband. This goes against the stereotype of a woman who is often portrayed as overemotional, helpless, powerless, and weak.
Lar also goes against the stereotype of a man, because he is not presented as being assertive, violent, physically strong, or emotionless.
Some observations to make note of is that she is wearing black, while her husband is wearing light gray/blue clothing (symbol of good/evil), and she is more powerful than him despite being shorter than him and taking up less space on the screen.