Admittedly, I first checked into Stargirl out of curiosity and didn’t expect much from this production linked to Greg Berlanti and his Arrowverse. After all, the Arrowverse, while the shows were amusing at first, the approach of making all the shows into tongue-in-cheek camp dramas that attempted to be grim and gritty at the same time soon lost its appeal. These series soon became exposed as poor examples of what could get done with comics-based TV series in contrast to the Marvel-based shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. On the other hand, Stargirl is a refreshing change of pace from anything previously, including the Arriowverse.
First of all, Stargirl is a very entertaining series that feels like a period piece even though it’s not actually set in the past. Stargirl, the series, is a refreshing change of pace that replaces grim and gritty with its own brand of old-fashioned reality. The series shamelessly leans into sentimentality. There is a generous helping of all the corniness that goes with an accent on family values coupled with the show’s retro styling. Sensibilities make this series completely different from any other series of its type. It has its own approach and style. Stargirl is the first series of this type since the turn of the century that hasn’t attempted to be grim and gritty in general and is, in fact, somewhat lighthearted. This series is like a Hallmark card, and a painting by Norman Rockwell had a love child. I found the series throwback appeal to a time of more innocence and idealism very appealing.
Stargirl doesn’t try to pretend to be anything but what it is, and that’s a comics-based series with an improbable narrative that may seem more like a fantasy than reality. But isn’t that why we watch this stuff? Stargirl is an ambitious series with many things it tries to accomplish, and it ties them together pretty well. First of all, it’s an adventure/mystery series that portrays the eternal classic fight between good and evil, with Stargirl and her friends representing the good guys. And because its cast is mostly kids, it’s also filled with lots of YA moments and spends lots of its time on classic YA tropes, most of which it handles well enough. One thing that makes it obvious this is fantasy and not even trying to be realistic is the complete lack of sexuality in this show. Real kids this age would be in the grip of hormones and not interested in anything outside of themselves. In this reality, puberty is nowhere around. Like most shows with an ensemble cast, some of its characters seem underdeveloped, two-dimensional, and even cliched. This shortcoming reminds us this is a TV show, and that happens all the time.
Stargirl is also a story about a time of change for everybody involved and the chemistry and politics involved in creating a family. Stargirl is a compelling family drama that focuses mostly on the bonding between Courtney Whitmore (Stargirl) and Pat Dugan, Courtney’s new step-dad and the builder/operator of Stripe, the giant robotic creation he rides around in and that plays a central part in the series. Stargirl is Pat’s story as much as Courtney’s, and Luke Wilson does an excellent job in the role, and it’s doubtful if the series would be nearly as good without him (and Stripe)
The cast is terrific and enjoyable for the most part, with everyone suitably evil and good in their roles. (Except for Solomon Grundy, who gets relegated to a CGI appearance.) Season one surprisingly ends with a few deaths, and I am looking forward to season two. Stargirl, the series doesn’t get presented as camp. Stargirl is old-fashioned fun in the manner of a Saturday matinee and delightful stuff not made to get taken too seriously. So if you are sitting down to watch this series, make yourself a root beer float and some popcorn and enjoy.