I love Smallville- I love the adorable and sincere Tom Welling, I love the sweet parental relationships, I love a good pastoral drama. However, like many contemporary shows geared at teens, Smallville is flawed, and occasionally, nonsensical. While there are many things to love about this early two-thousands drama, there are a lot of aspects of the show that just don’t hold up.
1. The Distance Between Smallville and Metropolis
During the show’s long run, there were discrepancies about how far apart these two settings were. Lana at one point states that they are four hours apart, but later Chloe claims they’re two hours apart. Either way, it makes no sense for Chloe, Clark, and Lois to commute to Metropolis and remain residents of Smallville. While the show wanted to remain rooted in Smallville, a two hour commute each way seems a bit untenable, unless, like Clark, you can run the distance. It does make sense for a show that wants to keep one foot in Smallville, when Clark hasn’t fully moved on to his new life in Metropolis, but it certainly seems logistically fraught for people without super-speed.
2. Martha’s Disappearing Act
Having Ma Kent leave the show when Clark becomes more independent makes good sense, but not having her pop in at crucial junctures is a little out of character. The only times Martha is mentioned is in an off-hand phone call with Clark. She does not return for the funeral of her close friend, Lionel Luther, or for Chloe’s ill-fated wedding. As a mother very engaged in her son’s life, there’s a difference between giving Clark space and completely vanishing. I love Annette O’Toole and what she brings to the show, and even having her mentioned makes more sense than her complete absence. Later, this is excused by Martha being traumatized and needing space from her late husband’s memory, but it still doesn’t sit well with me.
3. College Drop-Outs
After Dark Thursday, Met U is conveniently closed so that the college storylines can wrap up and we can focus on bigger things, like Lex and Lana. Clark also drops out of college, to little fanfare. It makes sense to focus on their other plots, as some of the show’s worst episodes were college-focused, but even in the early two thousands, getting a job in journalism without a college degree wasn’t likely. Even grunts at a newspaper would need a journalism degree, so Chloe, Lois, and later Clark getting hired at the Planet without one is unlikely. Lois is also booted from college at one point, spends a weird couple of weeks at Smallville High, and then becomes a full-time reporter after a brief stint as a campaign manager for Jonathan Kent. Lois’ record is certainly a little weird, and her career trajectory from there is certainly unrealistic. She’s very bright, but it’s difficult to imagine brains and moxie completely covering for a poor record.
4. Living Arrangements
Aside from the impossible commute to Metropolis, there’s one other thing that makes little sense about the characters’ housing: the Talon’s size. The apartment above the Talon is home to Lana, Chloe, Lois, and Jimmy over the years, but gauging its size is difficult as a viewer. When Lana lives there, it seems to be a studio, but at one point, Lois, Chloe and Jimmy are all living there together. Is there a second bedroom, or is Lois just bedding down on the couch? Who even owns the Talon after Lex dies? Are they paying Tess rent? It makes no sense to stay in this apartment.
5. Chloe & Oliver & Lois & Clark & Arthur
While it is pretty true to the comics, it’s a little weird to have Lois involved with three of the members of the Justice League before she and Clark settle down. What’s definitely weirder is Chloe then ending up married to Oliver, meaning that not only has Lois had relationships with two of Clark’s close friends, she’s also slept with her cousin’s husband. It deviates from Oliver’s comic counterpart, who is usually involved with Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance. A happy ending for Chloe, who deserved a lot better than the show gave her a lot of the time, was well overdue, so I’m inclined to let this go. It is great that Lois is never shamed for her numerous relationships, which is something that a lot of shows didn’t do as well in the early two thousands.
6. Pretty much everything about Lana’s life
Lana has a pretty hard go of it, and after a certain point, you have to suspend disbelief about the things that she does, and the stuff that happens to her. Staying in Smallville makes some sense- every teen show has that one friend who moves into the basement. Lana then leaves Smallville for school in France, which makes no sense. How is she paying for this? Does she have an inheritance from her dead parents? She then leaves to return to Smallville after becoming possessed by one of her ancestors (yeah, that was a weird season.) Did she get school credit? How was she just living as a minor in a foreign country? When Lana returns to Smallville, she rents out the apartment above the Talon, which we have already covered a little. How is she paying for this apartment? Lana makes a lot of weird choices, but the logistics alone make the head spin.
7. Telling Lois
Clark doesn’t confide in Lois about his origins and powers until the final season. At that point, they have known each other for years, and are in love with each other. While they have had a slow development into close friends, and then partners, at work and in life, Clark waits a really long time to tell Lois his secret. By that time, she already knows, and has decided to wait until he is ready to tell her. Clark trusts Lois, and he should have told her sooner. She’s more in danger not knowing than knowing, and she deserves to know. Damn Clark and his trust issues.
8. Lex and Clark’s Friendship
It is incomprehensible that any normal guy in his early twenties would want to hang out with a fifteen year-old farm boy. While Clark is extraordinary, a rich, self-centered guy like Lex would never want to hang out with a teen who can’t even ask out the girl he likes. Watching it now, it makes total sense why Martha and Jonathan don’t think their son should pal around with Lex Luther- he’s a rich playboy in his early twenties and they’re raising a well-mannered, handsome alien. The last thing you need entering into that kind of parenting is a wildcard like Lex. Even if someone saves your life, it makes no sense for Lex to want to hang around Clark.
9. The Finale
Most fans can agree that Smallville went on for way too long, leaving Clark in a state of arrested development, with one foot in Smallville and one in Metropolis. The show continuing for so long meant that some episodes were bloated, and others too thin. New characters were integrated reasonably well, but the show’s longevity decreased its overall quality. The season finale included the resurrection of Lex Luthor, death of Tess Mercer, and Clark and Lois’ wedding. The final episodes were too rushed, and a disservice to fans who love the show and its mythology. In particular, a character like Tess, who goes through so much in the show, dying without any of the other characters addressing it shows that time was managed poorly. The scene with Tess and Lex was pitch-perfect, exactly what it needed to be, but Tess deserved to be memorialized even a little. A lot of threads get dropped in the last season, like Conner Kent, and it shows. The show also wastes time in the final episodes with Lois trying to break up with Clark for stupid reasons, which was in-character, but not necessary.
While the show has its ups and downs, Smallville was great, and had such an impact that it provided a blueprint for the super hero shows on TV today. While it has its plot holes, we can’t help but love it. It’s just super.