We All Deserve an Eliza Danvers

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Last night’s episode of Supergirl was a goddamn gift. A treasure, a beacon of hope and love in a world of grimdark. Every time I watch Supergirl I think they’ve reached a new peak of telling wlw stories. Every week I feel represented in a way I’ve never thought I would. And every week they top themselves.

This week, the awkward Danvers’ family Thanksgiving episode turned into something beautiful. Alex realized that coming out was about more than liking Maggie. She labeled herself as gay, called it her new normal, and said she was happy about it being so. That in and of itself means so much to wlw audiences. A wlw character coming out as an adult officially labeled herself as gay. On TV. And she’s happy being being gay even without a relationship. It’s about her self-perception and wholeness as a person. She’s finally understood who she really is and that’s enough.

Supergirl didn’t stop there either. Maggie, in turn, seeks Alex out to confess that she reciprocates Alex’s feelings. There are so many things about that scene to love even before the confession: Maggie bringing pizza, Alex still in her pjs, Maggie complementing Alex on said pjs. It’s adorable. Now I need a Sanvers pizza and pj party on my screen. It took a lot of guts for Maggie to admit her feelings for Alex after Alex basically gave her an “I’m trying to get over you” speech. I’m so proud of her for letting down her walls enough to let Alex in.

But as much as I love everything about Sanvers, what I really want to talk about is Eliza Danvers. Since S1, she’s been the mom behind the scenes while Cat Grant took center stage mentoring Kara and J’onn mentored Alex. The personal and family struggles revealed last Thanksgiving offered us a glimpse into Alex’s complex feelings about how her mom raised her. She resented prioritizing Kara’s needs above her own, though never took it out on Kara. The pressure to put Kara before her own needs stifled her, and this season we’ve learned just how much. One could expect Alex to not want to tell her mother, or to blame her mother for her not realizing she was gay. She had too much else on her mind watching out for Kara to have space for introspection.

Nevertheless, we see that Alex and Eliza have repaired their relationship enough that Eliza was partially clued into Alex’s journey through discovering she’s a wlw. Eliza and Alex not only talk regularly, but enough that when Alex is stumbling for a way to explain she’s gay to her mom, Eliza jumps to “Is this about Maggie?” Even before then, Eliza took the time to reach out to Alex because she noticed Alex was struggling with something. They’ve come so far since last season’s Thanksgiving.

Eliza Danvers is the mother every queer woman wishes she had in her life. She’s intuitive, caring, and does her best to make the process easy on Alex. She can see Alex struggling, so she asks her a question to put Alex at ease. She continues to ask the kinds of questions that communicate she’s safe to talk to and put Alex at ease to be honest. (Honesty is the best policy seems to have been last night’s theme, so that’s unsurprising.) Alex feels safe enough to admit she’s afraid of letting Eliza down, an ongoing fear for Alex but one even more potent for it being about something so fundamental to her identity as who she loves. Eliza’s response reassures Alex without invalidating her fear.

If you want to watch the full scene, you can do so here. I recommend it, it’s beautiful.

Coming out stories in media have been notoriously focused on reassuring the straight parent that they’re going to ‘survive’ their kid coming out. You know the story I mean. The one where the parent says, “I love you anyway” (as if being gay is somethe the parents have to ‘tolerate’ in their child), or “how could you not trust me enough to tell me?” (as if the story is about the parent’s hurt feelings rather than the child’s insecurity). Or the one where the parent ‘struggles’ to accept their gay child and actually are disappointed in them but strive to be a good person by accepting them despite their disappointment. It’s what we’ve come to expect from parent/child discussions of being gay. Eliza Danvers shot that out of the water.

She’s a spokesmodel for parental allyship. She says what every queer person has ever wanted to hear from their parents. Rather than turn Alex’s fear of rejection around into her lack of trust, Eliza reassures her. She tells her she’s amazing, exceptional, and loves her the way she is “however you are”. That’s not an “I love you in spite of being gay”. Eliza is telling Alex she loves her. Period. End of story. It doesn’t matter what is true of Alex, Eliza loves her.

I don’t know about you, but I sobbed during this scene. It’s what I’ve wished my mother would say to me, though I know she won’t. We all deserve to hear this from our parents, that we’re loved and that we’re special, exceptional. That our sexuality does not merit toleration, but a full, enthusiastic embrace. For everything else good we got last night, this is the part that I needed to hear most. For those of you out there with parents who don’t accept you, Eliza can be your mom and dad. She can tell you how worth you are, how amazing you are. She’ll remind you that no matter what, you’re loved and seen. She’ll tell you that being gay is not a disappointment, that you don’t need to live a regular heteronomative life. Be you. She loves you, and so do I.