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Why Are We Already Acting Like ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Supergirl’ Are Competing?

Newsflash: more than one woman can be super.

Yesterday Netflix released yet another badass trailer for their next Marvel series, "Jessica Jones," and it's clear that people are pumped to see the superhero-turned-private-eye mess up her life in live-action for the first time ever. Gritty realness! Bar fights! Krysten Ritter! Joan Jett! What is not to love, here?

But in addition to all the excitement, you can also see a lot of YouTube commenters, Twitter users and other fans on social media comparing Jessica Jones to the other big woman-led superhero TV show out this fall, CBS's "Supergirl" -- specifically, you can see them proudly proclaiming that "Jessica Jones" is going to be amazing and "Supergirl" will be terrible.

While some of the ire is probably coming from the age-old "DC vs. Marvel" debate (although, check out that guy with a Nightwing profile pic... shouldn't he be reppin' Supergirl?), it's still pretty disheartening. This TV season is shaping up to be a great one for comic book nerds, and especially for nerds who want to see more diverse, representational comic stories on their screens. So why are we taking two of the biggest female superheroines -- neither of which we've even gotten to watch yet -- and pitting them against each other, rather than celebrating both of them for their differences?

Picking a favorite of the two is fine, but if you're thinking about trying to say that one of these women is somehow better or more worthy of watching than the other, here are some points you should consider:

  1. The two are very different characters; living in very different worlds.
    DC Comics

    Supergirl was an invention of the Silver Age of comics and was intended to be "Superman's secret weapon" -- while he got to play the part of the public hero, her existence was kept a secret until a few years after she was introduced. During that time, the teenage hero saved the world one person at a time with the help of superpowered pets like Streaky the cat and Comet the horse (they both wore capes, of course). Overall she's generally had a pretty bright and bubbly aesthetic through the years, which lines up very nicely with the apparent feminine, girl power-style treatment she appears to be getting in the show.

    Meanwhile, Jessica Jones is very much a product of the modern age, where comic book heroes don't have to answer to a censorship code and don't just exist in a sanitized world. In fact, many believe that the adult-oriented Marvel MAX imprint only exists because the company needed somewhere R-rated to publish "Alias," the comic where Jessica makes her foul-mouthed debut. Just as Supergirl's appeal is that she's fun and light-hearted, Jessica Jones captivated audiences because she's the exact opposite. It would be truly, horrendously awful if both shows felt exactly the same, but the fact that they don't means that both creative teams really get the characters that they're working with.

  2. The shows aren't even actively competing against each other.

    Basically the only two things "Supergirl" and "Jessica Jones" have in common is that they're both about comic book women. Other than that, they couldn't be more distinct, and not just based on the tones of their lead characters. Maybe if they were both airing at the same time, it would be one thing, but they're not. Heck, "Jessica Jones" won't even be subjected to the same network ratings standards that "Supergirl" is. As part of Netflix's subscription-based service, it get released all at once -- and even if it doesn't get a second season like "Daredevil" did, she's guaranteed to appear on future Marvel TV shows like "Luke Cage" and "The Defenders." You'll be able to bang out the entire series in a weekend and then tune in week by week to see "Supergirl," and you won't be hurting anybody.

  3. There's nothing wrong with "appealing to female viewers."
    Darren Michaels/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

    One of the biggest criticisms I've heard against "Supergirl" so far is that it seems far too girly and "chick flick"-like for a superhero TV show, and many speculate that it's doing so because it's specifically targeting a female audience who wouldn't otherwise be interested in comic book stories. But what's wrong with girliness, and what's wrong with getting more people to care about the characters that so many hardcore nerds already love? Sure, it would be a bit annoying if "Supergirl" were the only game in town, but she's not, because "Jessica Jones" also exists. Just because she's a bit gruffer and grittier than Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) doesn't make her an inherently stronger character.

  4. There's plenty of room for female characters of all kinds.
    Sonja Flemming/CBS

    Women are not a hive-mind collective; we look and feel differently from one another and our experiences, while sometimes similar, are not all alike. What one woman relates to might not be the same as what another woman does -- which is why when there's only one prominent female character for all of us to rally around, things can go bad really fast. Remember when everyone freaked out about Black Widow's romantic arc in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron?" If she wasn't the only female Avenger for most of the movie and didn't have to represent all things to all people, maybe the backlash would have been less intense.

    So maybe you've seen some "Supergirl" trailers and find them not to your liking, and you think "Jessica Jones" is going to be great. That's totally okay! But that doesn't mean "Supergirl" isn't also deserving of some other fan's attention, or that it's a terrible show because it's more overtly interested in femininity and girl power. Everyone should be able to find a super-powered heroine they can get behind, and that's why we need not just more women but more types of women in our comic book franchises. Otherwise, we're just watching the same story over and over again, and where's the fun in that?