The First Amendment to the United States Constitution clearly outlines the right to free press. And yet over the past year, the freedom of the press has never been in a more vulnerable position, as members of the government — with President Trump himself leading the charge — wage war on journalists. That's why, in a time when the freedom of the press is under attack, Supergirl is doubling down on Kara Danvers' identity as a journalist dedicated to reporting the truth.
The CW's superhero series has always been in a prime position to highlight just how important journalism is. Not only has the main character, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), crafted her entire secret identity around her day job as a reporter at CatCo Worldwide Media, but her friends work in the industry, too. James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) got his start as an award-winning photojournalist before his promotion to art director and then CEO. Nia Nal (Nicole Maines), a new addition to the series, is a cub reporter working underneath Kara. And Kara's superhero exploits directly fuel her journalism endeavors, as she not only fights to save the world physically but also through her investigative reporting. Supergirl makes the argument that journalism is literally helping save the world at a time when the industry (and country, and the world) most needs it.
When Bustle visited the Vancouver set of Supergirl (returning Jan. 20 on The CW), Benoist explained how proud she is of the series' ongoing dedication to focusing on Kara's work as a journalist, especially given the current political climate.
"It's something we're all really passionate about here, staying true to that and fighting against what we think is wrong and really supporting the power of the press and showing people that it's for the good," Benoist tells Bustle along with a group of reporters. "You can really make lasting change by how you report to people. Kara, luckily, is always reporting from a very genuine and caring and hopeful place and always trying to find the facts and report responsibly. That's also something that we're trying to show."
All season long, Kara has struggled to confront the uglier side of humanity in the form of Agent Liberty's hatred-fueled gang, the Children of Liberty.
"She's embodying what I think a lot of Americans feel right now, that helplessness and a really very hopeful and optimistic soul being tried," Benoist says. "Her feelings of hope and positivity [are] waning and she has to really grasp exactly what she believes in to overcome it. And [while] Agent Liberty is our big bad ... fear as an entity is more of our villain this season. We'll continue to explore stories like that throughout Season 4 and how Kara will deal with it."
As if dealing with a problem she can't physically fight to defeat wasn't enough, Kara's personal life has also been affected by the Children of Liberty's rise to prominence. After James was outed as Guardian, the Children of Liberty hijacked his superhero persona for their own purposes (talk about fake news!). But instead of fighting to reclaim his identity as pro-alien, James decided to embed himself within the Children of Liberty to try to take them down from the inside. He's doing it on his own, and it's not something Kara agreed with.
"She is aware that his intentions are always the best," Benoist says of James' dangerous solo mission. "I think she knows James well enough to know that he's a risk taker and that he's going to do what he needs to do to tell the story he wants to tell as a journalist. There is conflict of interest there too, because he's dating her best friend and he knows Kara's secret of Supergirl and Lena doesn't, so those are complicated waters to tread. But I do think their friendship prevails over everything."
Hopefully both Kara and James find their missions successful against the Children of Liberty's hatred and prejudice on Supergirl (and soon!) so life can begin to imitate art.