DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: This “Weirdo Show” from the CW Hits in All the Right Places

A warning sign of a cow being abducted by aliens
By Karin Heilemann | November 2nd, 2021

If someone had told me a year ago that I would be into a science fiction show that includes aliens and hell I would have laughed that fool off. But Legends of Tomorrow is different: it’s for anyone raised on Glee, that made it to season 6 and still loved it. Instead of McKinley High, the stage of this CW show is time itself and the protagonists’ mission is to protect it and the world. Situated in the Arrowverse, the team is made up of a group of misfits, featuring main characters Sarah Lance as captain of their time ship, Ava Sharpe as bureaucratic partner in crime, and a couple of supernatural beings. Starting from an utterly boring first season, it soon runs into nonsense that includes singing and groundhog day, leading one to ask: “how in the temporal zone has it been running for up to seven seasons this October?” With humor, evolving characters, and a TV ship Legends of Tomorrow is fulfilling a cultural niche we didn’t even know we had.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has the weakest start I’ve tolerated for a TV show. Its premise has been repairing the timeline from evil forces but sticking to the rules of logic, it got nowhere new because everybody else had already been there. It’s not until vikings worship a fluffy blue toy that the show stops “following the formula” of other CW shows and takes off. The first episode of season 4 is your thesis statement for the rest of the show. There, the team travels back to Woodstock to keep a magical creature from creating a human massacre. Dressed in hippie attire, they capture a human-hearts-obsessed unicorn to send it back to hell. It just keeps getting worse from there. At one point, when they all sing at Mr. Parker’s cul de sac, you’d think you would have turned off by now.

But somehow it’s at the same time that logic is thrown out that the show gets to its best. Legends of Tomorrow thrives on its absurdity and nonsense because it’s balanced out by humor and something real: human interaction.

The best part about introducing absurdity is when the characters themselves make fun of it or, to put into the words of Ray Palmer, “puppets, again?” They know that the show is weird and this humor is strengthened by the captain’s send-off talks to missions that may or may not include a puritan pun. Legends of Tomorrow is hilarious, but it’s the serious moments that pop up in the midst of sci-fi chaos that round up the story.

The real magic of the show lies in its characters and their interactions with one another. It may not be new to tap into the misfit narrative. To show real characters that come from a past of being lonely, grew up in precarious conditions or moonlight as fiction writers. Or to have a Mick, who plays the family’s drunken uncle, get a little sweeter by meeting a hopeless romantic Mona. However, it’s refreshing to allow these developments to take place when waiting in line for the shower instead of a random thirty second speech, sitcom style. These characters just work together because they give the viewer something familiar to resonate with. And, even though it may be questionable that they fall in love on a time ship with just one bathroom, relationships add to this sentiment.

At the height of this is Avalance. In a world that is slowly growing more accepting towards positive queer representation, this couple is everything others have failed to be. “Avalance” stands for day-one character Sarah Lance, the captain of the time ship, and Ava Sharpe, director of the time bureau, an allied organization. There is a lot to love about these two. They are enemies-turned-lovers and it’s not coming sudden or unfitting but naturally evolving. Their relationship is built on recognizing each other as equals as they grow stronger together. But their best quality might just lie in normalcy. As Jess Macallan, Ava’s actress, claims, Avalance is something rare: a relationship that isn’t primarily centered around its queerness.  Instead, we get scenes of them evolving as a couple, be that opening up about their feelings or discussions about moving in together. 

Positive queer representation, developing characters, and humor embedded in a ton of weirdness what more could you possibly want? A coherent timeline. If the writers stick to their blueprint of a time travel show infused with the Legends of Tomorrow-formular, they have nothing to worry about. Even if that means introducing something as ridiculous as aliens.