During these challenging times, it is often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, for DCTV fans, there has been a spot of brightness amongst all the real-world darkness this year, and her name is Courtney Whitmore…aka Stargirl. In the first season of her summer DCTV series, which is now available for streaming on HBO Max, viewers are treated to a story of kindness, friendship, hope and above all things, love.
Stargirl herself is based off of creator Geoff Johns’ real life sister, who tragically passed away in an airplane accident at a young age. Perhaps one of the most touching aspects of this series is the love and passion on display for the character. Johns’ love for his sister—and by extension, the character based on her—can be directly felt as a viewer and it makes the series all the more special.
Stargirl leans heavily into its themes, really separating it from all of the other superhero shows out there. It’s a kind, hopeful and warm-hearted series, themes that are all personified through Courtney. Kindness is a rare thing these days, particularly in the sort of high school setting in which Stargirl’s story takes place. However, Courtney never falters in her genuine kindness and acceptance of all around her as she strives to see the good in everyone. Even when it comes to some of the villains of the series, such as her blade-wielding nemesis Cindy Burman, or the tragic Henry King Jr. (Brainwave Jr.), Courtney still tries to use her open-mindedness, benevolence and humanity to reach out to them and entice them to embrace a more tender side of themselves.
As Courtney tries to rebuild the long dormant Justice Society of America to combat the collective of super-villains operating out of her new town, she doesn’t hesitate at all when recruiting her school’s so-called outcasts to be a part of her new superhero group. She befriends two of the school’s most picked on girls—Yolanda, who has been shamed and cyberbullied by the popular kids, and Beth, who never had any friends to call her own besides her parents. Courtney trusts these young women with some of her most precious secrets, giving each of them a new super-suit that grants them certain abilities. Things don’t always go smoothly, but by the end of the series, they’ve all formed unbreakable bonds of friendship and loyalty, something none of them would have gained if it weren’t for Courtney’s kindness from the start. To see a high school student treat people with such respect and dignity is truly a refreshing thing to watch on television, as it is extremely rare in such an age group.
Let’s talk about those bonds for a moment. They’re built entirely on absolute trust, which is necessary considering their goal involves stopping some truly evil and powerful people from causing damage to the country. Ultimately, Courtney’s newly formed friendships are responsible for saving all of us. That’s a powerful message for right now—we’re saved by not what divides us, but what unites us. It’s also something that’s carried over to the show’s other crucial relationship—that between Courtney and her stepfather, Pat.
The bond of friendship, love and trust that’s formed between Courtney and Pat is probably one of the most special parts of Stargirl’s first season. At first their relationship is rocky and awkward, just like any new stepdaughter and stepfather relationship, but as Courtney comes into her power and her new mantle as Stargirl, Pat becomes her most trusted—and most unexpected—ally. Not only does he keep her safe and keep her secret, he ultimately learns to trust her and to motivate her to be who she is destined to be, despite being understandably worried for her well-being and wary about encouraging her to become a superhero.
Perhaps the most touching moments between the two of them are during the last two episodes, where the strength of their bond and connection is really revealed. Courtney sees Pat as not only one of her closest allies and confidents, but also as a father figure. When this becomes clear—when Courtney refers to herself as his “daughter” in order to bring him out of a trance in the season’s final episode—it’s a powerful moment. One doesn’t see a lot of relationships between stepparents and stepchildren in TV or film, so seeing Stargirl portray this one so positively, yet believably, is certainly worth celebrating.
Stargirl’s first season is fantastic and completely unlike any other superhero show out there right now. Whether you are familiar with the character or not, the show—in no small part due to series star Brec Bassinger—gets you to care about Stargirl and her scrappy team by building bonds between them that are both recognizable and real. With so many superhero TV shows and movies available right now, the trend is to make the heroes tortured or jaded as a way of setting them apart. Stargirl takes the opposite approach. Courtney is kind, loving, hopeful and truly good to the core. She’s the sort of person we should all strive to be. The world needs more Courtney Whitmores. We’d all be much better for it if we did.
Stargirl Season 1 can now be streamed on HBO Max. Subscribe today for a free seven-day trial!
Amanda Levine covers collectibles, cosplay and pop culture for DCComics.com and is a regular contributor to Ink Spots, our corner of the site devoted to Young Adult comics and graphic novels.