Tonight marks the series finale of the longest running sci-fi program in television history, Smallville. It’s been over ten seasons and 200 episodes but tonight fans finally get to see Clark don the red cape and seize his destiny. Though the show is not without its flaws, it is on the CW, witnessing the fully imagined origin of The Man of Steel has been a fun and adventurous ride. While the show has relocated to the city of Metropolis, the first 4+ seasons primarily took place Clark Kent’s home town of Smallville, Kansas. One of the charms of Smallville is getting lost in the universe created on-screen and imagining existing within it. Every boy grows up dreaming he were his favorite superhero, and Superman is mine, and I still can’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in Smallville. However, recently I rationalized that hope and decided that it would actually totally suck.
#5: You’re not Superman
If anyone has ever told you how they wished they lived in the Smallville universe, what they probably really mean is “it would be cool to be Superman”. However, in a town that was populated with 45,000 residents, odds of you winning the Superman lottery are pretty slim. Living in a town whose primary exports are corn and meteor rock would pretty and not having some super powers like x-ray vision would pretty much suck…
…But more on that later.
#4: You don’t have super powers
Okay, so you’re not Superman, but plenty of people in Smallville were “infected” by the meteor rock, resulting in them gaining a unique super power. Especially in the earlier seasons of the show, many episodes featured a new character, often an antagonist, who was granted ability by their exposure to kryptonite. Some of the infected citizens of Smallville include:
- Coach Arnold (started fire with his mind)
- Desiree Atkins (super-pheromones)
- Jake Pollen (breath underwater)
- Alicia Baker (teleportation)
- Ian Randall (multiplicity)
See, so you don’t have to be some alien from Krypton to have super powers in Smallville. Unfortunately all of these “Super Freaks”, as they were affectionately known, had one thing in common; they were antagonists. Aside from all of his abilities and his alien heritage, there was one more very important contribution to Clark becoming the Man of Steel – his adoptive parents. They’ve actually covered this point extensively within many episodes, but in case you don’t watch the show (or have forgotten), let me remind you that it would take a lot of goodness and an incredibly strong will not to abuse your powers. Most metahumans in the Smallville universe end up using their powers for selfish gain and end up either irreversibly damaging themselves or others to the point that Clark has to interfere and send them to the looney bin. Hell, even Clark himself is at a constant struggle within not to abuse the variety of abilities that come along with his birthright.
#3 You don’t know Clark Kent
Okay, so you’re not Clark Kent and being a “meteor freak” would only be cool until you got caught, but not everyone on Smallville has powers. Plenty of primary characters on the show were normal human beings with no special ability what so ever: Jonathan and Martha Kent, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan, and Pete Ross.
You know who else in Smallville, Kansas is normal? The 44,800 other people who aren’t infected and aren’t friends with (or related to) Clark. Therefore, if you didn’t win the Superman lottery your odds of winning the Supermans’ BFF lottery are only slighty better. Not that being Superman’s best friend is a job we’d want anyway. All of the aforementioned characters are constantly getting themselves into some sort of trouble that requires Clark’s extraterrestrial abilities to resolve. In season 1 alone, Lana Lang is kidnapped, has her identity stolen (literally), infected by meteor rock (multiple times), hit by an exploding gas pipeline, and gets trapped in a tornado. Not to mention the love triangle between her, Clark, and Whitney taking their toll on her emotionally, because Clark continuously stands her up to save people (usually his other friends).
Maybe Lana would have a little more patience if she knew why Clark was taking off all the time, but she didn’t. None of Clark’s friends knew of his super abilities, because he and his parents knew the responsibility of bearing that secret. They were right too. Eventually each of Clark’s closest friends learned of his secret and none of them could handle it. Pete tried to get Clark to help him with his problems a few times before having an emotional breakdown and moving away. Lana tried dating Clark for a while before having multiple emotional breakdowns every episode and ultimately moving away. Chloe joined forces to help Clark, and a wealthier yet less impressive hero in Oliver Queen before having an emotional breakdown and moving away. Lois I won’t mention for S10 spoilers (but it has something to do with an emotional breakdown…). Martha Kent had a midlife crisis (close to an emotional breakdown), became a U.S. Senator, married a washed up journalist, and moved away. The only close friend or family member of Clark’s who didn’t have an emotional breakdown was his father, he just died instead.
#2 Your Job Sucks
Let’s recap. You’re not Earth’s greatest protector, you don’t know him, and you don’t have any super human abilities (and if you do you’re in jail or a mental hospital). Still, living in Smallville and a universe with superheroes and super villains is pretty cool; sure would make the news a lot more interesting. It’s a shame you live in Smallville, a farming town. Take a look at the ‘Welcome’ sign pre-meteor shower…
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a farmer. Early mornings, hard manual labor, and pedaling crops for money are all among the things I try to avoid when hitting the job market. The show clearly depicted the hardships the Kent family went through to keep their farm profitable and capable of feeding their family, and they had a super powered son to do their chores.
Working on a farm isn’t the only occupation available in Smallville, you could work for Luthercorp; because working the most evil father son duo on the planet is a much better alternative. Maybe you could even start your own business, like the Talon. You know – the old movie theater that Lana Lang’s Aunt owned, which she restored to a coffee shop and was eventually bought out by Luthercorp.
#1 Natural Disaster/Death
What if you hate your job now, or you’d actually enjoy farm labor or working for the most evil man on the planet? That brings us back to living in a universe of superheroes, that’s still pretty cool. Too bad you live in Smallville, Kansas where it’s a toss up between which is a more frequent meteorological event – tornados or meteor showers. Not the meteor showers you stay up late to be disappointed by as a child by either…
It’s a wonder how the population of this town grew from 25,000 to 45,000 since the first meteor shower with all of its citizens dying by some super powered “meteor freak” or some crazy alien-induced storm. Now that I think about it, this does answer one lingering question I’ve had for a while…