SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from the first season of Superman & Lois.
Season one of Superman & Lois returns for its final stretch of episodes tonight, and for those of us who’ve been watching from the start, it’s clear that the show is much more than just a superhero procedural/supervillain-of-the-week series. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those formats, of course, but at its heart, Superman & Lois is about family. But not just the family you might expect from a series starring Clark Kent and Lois Lane, nor the traditional people-who-are-related-to-each-other sense of the term.
In the very first episode of the season, Clark and Lois decide to move their family, including their sons Jonathan and Jordan, back to Clark’s Earthly hometown of Smallville, Kansas. Smallville is a place you’re likely familiar with, even if you’ve never heard of Clark Kent. (Although, if that’s the case, please go watch the season before reading any further. Or read some comics. Or watch the various movies about him. Or…) Smallville is a small town filled with/plagued by the tropes and stereotypes that fill and plague small towns the world over, even the nonfictional ones, from a dire lack of jobs to an (often overly) intense passion for high school sports.
But it’s also a town filled with people who care and families who have just as much to stress about as Clark and Lois do—even if the kids in those other families aren’t showing signs that they’re developing superpowers…yet.
Superman & Lois may be centered on the Kent family, but it’s quickly obvious that the show isn’t named for a singular character on purpose. In fact, looking back at this first season, there isn’t really a main character at all. Instead, the show focuses on events, and how those events affect the people/families of Smallville (and some occasional visitors).
The first family we “meet” after the Kents’ move to Smallville somewhat complicates things when it’s revealed that Lana Lang—Clark’s high school sweetheart—and her husband Kyle are some of the town’s most high-profile citizens. But the fact that Lana and Clark are old flames isn’t the biggest point of contention in the Cushing family. Instead, it’s Kyle’s feelings of inadequacy when Lana gets a fancy new job and his tendency to turn to alcohol to solve his problems, which drives away not only Lana but also the elder Cushing daughter, Sarah. Unfortunately, due to his involvement with Morgan Edge’s not-actually-helpful plans to bring jobs to Smallville, the town turns on Kyle and the Cushing family. (But I have a gut feeling/hope that this won’t last forever. Small towns, like families, tend to have arguments that burn hot to start but work out in the end.)
Superman & Lois sees Clark and Lana deal with issues with Jonathan and Jordan, sure, especially when Jordan begins to develop certain gifts. But they also have to deal with Lana’s father, General Sam Lane, and his actions that frequently lead to his son-in-law (and grandson) being put in mortal danger. Lois makes it brutally clear that her family is more important than their relationship, which Sam eventually gets. But their strained father-daughter relationship is less about her husband’s origins and more about his lack of trust in her decisions, which can be a hard lesson to learn for any parent.
Even the show’s villains have their own family issues. John Henry Irons crossed universes looking to kill Superman—an alien who he believed was a threat to Earth-Prime because of his universe’s Superman’s bad behavior, but mostly because he killed John’s wife (that universe’s Lois Lane). Naturally, his mission of vengeance also took him away from his daughter, which he also blamed on Supes (earning him a bit of side-eye, but he eventually gets on the right path). Morgan Edge stuck the consciousnesses of Kryptonians into the citizens of Smallville to bring back the people lost in the destruction of his planet. Whether he turns toward the correct path or finds an untimely end remains to be seen…but seeing how he seems to have evolved into Superman’s long-time nemesis the Eradicator, I’m not too hopeful.
On that note, Superman & Lois doesn’t shy too far away from the superhuman feats and battles you’d expect, but they’re always related to something that’s going on with one of the families or the town at large. And, honestly, this makes it one of—if not the—most relatable of the DCTV shows. We normal humans don’t have to work out how to keep our x-ray vision in check or teach our children how to fly. But we know what it’s like to work out family issues (blood-related or not) and rely on our families to keep us safe.
Leave it to a show about an alien superhero to teach us lessons about what it means to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!
Superman & Lois returns tonight at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW. Looking for more news, interviews and videos on Smallville’s newest residents? Check out our Superman & Lois series page!
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Mandy Curtis and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.