He Said/She Said: Gendered Genre in Arrow and The Flash

Comic Books Television

It’s supposed to be the golden era of geek television with The Flash and Arrow leading the mass audience to superheroes.

But we have our issues with these shows. They’re decent but they could be so much better.

Once upon a time, I loved Arrow. The first season ended so well and yet ever since about midway through the second season, it floundered, and has never quite recovered. I  worried The Flash (from the same creative team) would have some of the same flaws. I was unfortunately, not surprised when that came to pass.

I can sum up one of my issues in my reaction to Ray Palmer’s explanation of why he was so driven: “Is there anybody on these shows who isn’t driven to do what they do by the memory of a dead woman?”

Or: “Is there any woman left on this show that is allowed to make decisions for herself or do they all have to be ‘protected’ from the bad stuff in their lives, even if they, say, have a right to know that their biological dad hypnotized them into committing murder?”

Arrow -- "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak" -- Image AR305b_0260b -- Pictured (L-R): Willa Holland as Thea Queen and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- �© 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
“So hey dad….can we talk about that?”

And let me point out, this plot isn’t even about Thea. It’s all about Ollie’s *angst* on Thea’s behalf.

But you could boil these problems down to an overall issue: Arrow and The Flash rely on overused comic book tropes that make their plots far too predictable. And no plot is more overused or more predictable than “girlfriend in peril” or “keep secrets from the women to protect them” or “I can’t be in a relationship because it puts you in danger.” Even though all the women on both shows are already in danger all the time, sexy times or not.

Absolutely. We really saw the first sign of this with Helena back in season one of Arrow. Think about it: The Huntress has a fairly similar origin to Oliver’s. She finds out her dad is a criminal and does something about it. Except in her case, she first tries to do it within the confines of the law and only turns to violence when her boyfriend is killed (fridged, even). Then at-the-time-murdering-people Ollie goes ape on her for being too violent. It’s okay when *he* does it, but not her. Sorry? That’s some messed up logic coming from a guy shooting arrows through random security guards.

Additionally, that entire date episode with Ray had me yelling “Call HR! Haven’t you ever seen a ‘What Harassment Looks Like’ video?” That was some textbook icky behavior. Yet… I still like Ray more than Ollie.

I just can't stay mad at that face.
I just can’t stay mad at that face.

Let’s not forget the flashback aspect, either. Arrow introduces Tatsu, who comic fans may recognize as Katana. She sort of hangs out as Maseo’s wife, occasionally nagging Ollie. Finally, when Maseo vanishes, we get a glimmer of hope that there may be a subversion of the damsel in distress trope. Instead, he’s just in hiding and come the season finale, it is Tatsu who becomes the damsel. Oh, and I’d put even money on her and Ollie touching naughties at some point in the second half of season 3.

As for Flash, women only exist to coveted or mourned, apparently. Even Caitlin, who is arguably my favorite character, is being thrown down the “it’s all about how a man relates to her” hole. How long will we have to wait for a female metahuman? Until episode 12, apparently (Vixen doesn’t count. She’s going to be magic). That female meta’s motivations? Her boyfriend. Because of course.

Source: DC Comics
To be fair, her motivation in the comics was saving her dad.

And, hey, let’s not forget Shado, who was fridged to add motivation to Slade and Ollie in season 2. A waste of a character.

In the beginning, Arrow had Moira. Moira had her own agenda. Moira had her own past and thoughts and dreams separate from her son. Not to mention her own secrets. The writers said in an interview that she was killed partially because they couldn’t figure out what to do with her. No wonder: he couldn’t sleep with her and he couldn’t protect her. And her death, of course, existed to motivate Ollie. A sad ending for a character who still had a ton of potential, especially as an uneasy ally willing to cut corners.

© 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
So instead, they cut her.

And then look at Diggle’s girlfriend. Wow, she makes such an impression that I forgot her name. Instead of being a sometimes adversary, she’s now so busy being a mom that she sends *Diggle* out on her secret government missions. ::headdesk::

Diggle’s *second* girlfriend. Before Lyla we had his dead brother’s widow. Who he just mooned over, ala Barry. Yet this season he has the chutzpah to give Ollie relationship advice? There’s really no-one on either show healthy enough to do that.

Also, Moira’s agenda and past and dreams all got sublimated to a man again when we learn that her dark secret is that she got pregnant by Malcolm Merlin. Amazing how her family could forgive her for abetting mass murder, but having sex? NO!

At least on The Flash Joe West is about “protecting” more than just Iris. Think of how many cops are going to die because they have no idea that there are people out there with powers.

I’m waiting for it to be revealed in the flashbacks that Ollie has slept with Amanda Waller. Because every other woman’s story (assuming they’re not related) goes back to either being in love with Ollie or sleeping with him. Sara had agency with her choices of lovers and her own struggle about being an assassin but now she’s a plot point.

And Thea? What a horrible waste of a character. Ollie blocked Roy from being with Thea because of the Girlfriend Trope #2 that I quoted above, to protect her. So he’s even using trope-blocking for his friends.

And there’s the plot point that completely drove me around the bend in the mid-winter finale. Ollie accepts the duel with Ra’s to protect Thea. But if he loses, Thea remains in the hands of someone who brainwashed her into committing murder. If Ollie wins, then the guy who brainwashed her into committing murder is still part of Thea’s life. How is this protecting Thea? Only telling the truth will keep her safe in the long run. But I doubt Ollie will ever be called out for this. We’re instead supposed to sympathize with him for being backed into a corner.

The Flash has some stuff still going for it. The relationship between Barry and Joe is terrific and the lead is more open emotionally. I have a fondness for the lab science team though Caitlin is beginning to suffer from Felicity Syndrome–once an independent person now defined by a relationship. I predict we’ll get lots about Ronnie’s struggles and Cailin’s plot will be all about how to help Ronnie.

And Iris is the worst written character on both shows. She’s close to Barbara Kean/Gotham awful. (At least Iris gets to leave the house! But Gotham, much as I like it, is a whole separate article.)

I do somewhat disagree about Ray Palmer. Felicity doesn’t treat him like a boss; he accepts this and treats her as an equal, not an employee. I’d like to say this is good subtle writing but I suspect it’s just the Emily Bett Rickards sells this aspect of Felicity as interested/not interested in Ray while still able to tell off the supposed boss if she likes it.

I want to love both these shows. I loved Arrow Season 1. I love parts of The Flash, when they’re not being creepy about Barry using the Flash to stalk the foster-sister he’s always loved from afar. (Sooo creepy!). I want them to be better. But instead, what I’ve received is crumbs.

I didn’t know how much I wanted the whole cake until Agent Carter, where I got the crumbs, the whole cake, and the icing too.

Disagree that Felicity comes off as being able to tell Ray off. When he essentially pressures her with a necklace worth a small fortune and a dress (and by the way, how the heck does he know her size?), then no, that’s not an equitable choice.

Also, Joe West may be worse than Iris. Not only does he want his daughter lied to, but he wants her lied to by the guy who he knows has nursed an unhealthy crush on her for about half his life. That’s right – Joe knows the kid he’s raising as a sibling to his daughter has a thing for her, and never at any point sits him down and has a wee chat about getting a hobby. And let’s not forget how Joe (correctly, may I add) condemns both The Arrow and his activities until they get him what he needs – by doing the exact thing Joe condemned him for. Let’s face it, Detective West’s moral compass probably spins fast enough to achieve lift.

But yes, they both get so much right.

Even the bad science and plot induced stupidity (anything to do with Girder, really) aren’t as glaring an issue. Heck, half the fun is tearing that stuff apart. But when you have a show like Agent Carter pointing out the gender politics of the 1940s and then you tune to two shows that essentially feature the same nonsense, but with window dressing (see: Strong Female Characters)? Even sadder when you consider that the 1940s Flash comics featured Joan, Williams, who was (in most stories) an outlier for expecting The Flash to treat has as an equal, not usually the one in distress, and even packed heat.

Kinda racist, but mostly an equal. {Image taken from Flash Comics #22 (October 1941) , DC Comics]
Kinda racist, but mostly an equal.
[Image taken from Flash Comics #22 (October 1941) , DC Comics]
On the other hand, both shows are better than Gotham.

Gotham is like crack. If you go with it, it can be a wild ride. And it has Fish and Selina, who have their own agendas and agency too. Not to mention the waif that’s infiltrating Marcone’s crew.

But that sounds like our next article.


Correction: I forgot about Plastique. There has indeed been a female metahuman. However, you can also argue that her conflict boiled down to “two men fight over her.” She has more agency than Iris, but still suffers.

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60 thoughts on “He Said/She Said: Gendered Genre in Arrow and The Flash

  1. Correction: I forgot about Plastique. There has indeed been a female metahuman. However, one can argue that her conflict was indeed that of two men fighting over her.

  2. Isn’t Plastique also the only meta on “The Flash” who didn’t end up either evil or insane after getting powers, other than Barry himself? What other metas have been more developed as characters than her?

  3. My girlfriend and I are half-sure that Iris thought Barry was creepy and awkward around EVERYONE, and was shocked to find out he’s not autistic in some way but only does this to her. That’s why Eddie notices something (and Caitlyn, and…) and Iris doesn’t

    1. Awkward, yeah, creepy, no. That’s coded language by bratty girls for assigning someone no value; an intentional manipulation by the user to make the target seem much worse because they are not behaving how the user (likely your girlfriend) would like the target to behave. “Creepy”, lol. Barry is no different from any other nerdy superhero, but is only “creepy” now. Funny…

      1. Yeah no, Barry is creepy as heck. He comes off as stalking his-basically-a-sister.

        We’re not talking crushing on the girl next door; we’re talking about crushing on the girl in the next room.

        1. He’s coming off as a typical superhero who lives a double life.

          I wonder if you have siblings, because there is a real difference between someone living in your house and blood (if not a legalized adoption). Barry made it very clear that he loved Iris before he moved in with her family. I very clearly remember my best friend from that age and if she were to move in with me and my family, she would not just magically become my sister… she would be the guest in the house. I honestly don’t know how people are still promoting that “sibling” argument. It seems disingenuous.

          Given he had that crush before moving in with the Wests, he would not have been in sibling mode with Iris while growing up,,, he would have just made due. Also his father is still alive, there would be no reason for Barry to not see himself as still having his own family. Clearly, he struggled with that daily. Iris was indeed that girl next door, only, in house.

          BTW – Creepy is a manipulative word…

      2. He’s not creepy because he’s in love with someone who he’s known for a long time. But it’s excessively creepy to meet up with Iris and to flirt with her behind a mask, whilst actively lying to her, and that’s something that *needs* to be addressed in the show.

  4. I was with you both on this article until you said Iris was the worst written character on both shows. I’m still shocked to find out that people think this. What is it about her that puts her remotely near Barbara Kean levels? She is supportive of Barry but has separate motivations outside of him, and she loves the three men in her life but will go against their wishes when she believes herself to be in the right. She’s cheerful and whimsical, but also pursues her goals with a passion once she becomes invested in them. The only problem I see in the writing of her is, in fact, the same problem across both shows that has nothing to do with her individually. I’m referring to other characters purposely keeping her out of the loop, of course. But she still uncovers information about metahumans on her own and does it well (remember that Caitlin went to her for help locating Ronnie). And despite her fascination with the Flash, she still had the balls to cut him off when he crossed the line WHILE still not turning on him or turning him into Eddie/the cops because she knows he’s still doing good in general.

    So… Long story short, why do you guys think she’s the worst written character (or worse than everyone save Joe, in Mordechai’s opinion)?

    1. What, exactly, are Iris’s motivations outside of Barry, The Flash, or Eddie? Her interests are totally reflective of the men around her.

      The keeping out of the loop is indeed a problem, as we remark.

      Oh and by the way, I don’t agree 100% that she’s the worst overall. Laurel and Roy are close too.

      And not turning him in was good? Dude with super powers who apparently stalks people?

      1. Iris’ motivations to write about the Flash certainly begin because of Barry (and the Flash himself), but she does go on to believe that the people of Central City deserve to know what is going on behind the scenes. Which is why she doesn’t stop despite both Barry and the Flash’s objections. And I think she’s correct about that in the same way that Barry and Joe are wrong about keeping her in the dark. You can’t protect yourself against the supernatural if you have no idea it even exists, and right now Iris is the only one compiling information for the general public to be aware of current events.

        That being said, I agree with you that her motivations are mostly reflective of the men around her, but that’s because there ARE only men around her. I would have to argue the same is true of Caitlin: her work in S.T.A.R. Labs is directly connected to Harrison’s plotting and we don’t really know where her love of science came from outside of that, her trauma post-explosion is directly connected to Ronnie’s death, and her motivation for moving forward at the moment is Barry’s superpowers. Both she and Iris are awesome in my opinion, but the show has failed to provide them with a supporting story outside of the men who surround them. Hopefully that will change as the season goes on and new females are added to the cast (Linda Park!).

        As for her not turning the Flash in, I think it’s good both based on what she knows and on what the audience knows. Obviously her turning the Flash in would make most of the audience roll their eyes and decry her as an obstacle, etc. But he also tried to explain to Iris that it was a metahuman that affected him and not actually him. There were no other instances of him going haywire, he listened to her when she told him to stay away and presumably kept right on saving people, so I don’t think it was dumb or wrong of her to leave it there. Plus, she has continued compiling information on her blog and learning about the metahumans despite the Flash disappointing her, which shows that her passion for it goes beyond her interest in just him.

        1. Agreed that there’s an issue that there’s only men around them (does they have no friends outside of work?).

          Metahuman controlling me= “It wasn’t me baby, I was drunk”. It’s not the best argument.

          That said, I’m absolutely hearing your points. Thank you for sharing them.

        2. Also less you forget it was Iris who made the connections about Meta-Humans and Barry’s mother before anyone did in like episode 1×02 or may 1×03 when she showed Barry her blog for the first time. She told him that he might have been right about that night his mother died. It took everyone else including Joe till like episode 5 to connect the same blurry red tint he saw with Barry to the blurry yellow tint he saw with RF. Iris knew immediately, why because she believed in Barry from the jump. Please watch the show again before you call Iris West the worst character.. I mean damn really

          1. Barry had made those connections, with knowledge of the intricacies of The Flash’s powers and the science behind the particle accelerator storm. Iris had none of that and still made the connection.

      2. Her interest have always been connected to the people she loves. How can you call a not fully fleshed out character the worst character. Why because she gets Barry and is completely loved by everyone on the show, well deserved love I might add. Her interest are to the damn people like she voiced in the show but hey you think Iris West who hasn’t done a damn thing but try and show her City that the impossible exist and that they can believe in him. Sorry that she is not the cute adorable nerd that follows the brooding man hero all the time. Sorry she has a mind of her own and her own agency to do what she likes. Also remember how Iris West is important to a lot of WOC who like to feel represented whole heartedly on a show where she is the leading lady. You are entitled to your wrong opinion but please don’t ignore the narrative right in front of you just because you don’t like Iris.

        1. It’s because Iris is so important that I want her well-written and fleshed out. Not protected by Joe, lied to by Barry, or fawned over by Eddie.

          1. Protected like every other woman on television is and has been for decades? Suddenly it HURTS to see men worry about a woman for whom they care dearly? NOW, it’s a problem?

          2. Also, there’s a way to demonstrate that Iris is a good character with suitable flaws and interests that simply needs to be fleshed out and developed further that isn’t a throwaway line about her being ‘The worst written character on both shows’ when that demonstrably is not true.

    2. Having *only* men around Iris is a problem all by itself. Iris & Caitlin are usually the only women who show up on the show.

      To elaborate on Iris.
      Iris has evolved a little bit beyond “Oh, Barry, math is so hard!” and “Oh, Barry, go chase the guy who stole my laptop” because, apparently, she doesn’t save any work on a back-up drive or in the Cloud.
      But she’s still far more a plot point of what Barry can have. Go back and look at how many scenes consist of Barry looking longingly at Iris, usually while she’s making sexy eyes at Eddie. She’s a prize he wants to obtain, not a person.
      And that whole sequence where he went at high speed around her while saying out loud how much he loved her while she was unaware—very creepy/stalker of Barry.

      Maybe she’ll get better. They’ve tried, a bit, but her whole row in the show right now is to just be Barry’s love interest. And even her interest in the Flash is so they can develop the comic book trope triangle of Flash/Iris/Barry.

      I hope she gets better. This creative team is capable of incredibly fine writing, like the relationship between Joe and Barry. But the treatment of the female characters on Arrow doesn’t make me optimistic.

      That said, she’s a bit better than Barbara Kean. Iris gets to leave the house! And we know she’s a student. That puts her two ahead of Barbara.

      1. I agree that we should see more out Iris outside of Barry’s orbit so that we can learn more about her as an individual, and hopefully that’s coming with her Picture News arc. I guess I just don’t agree that the generally terrible writing for women is any more readily apparent in Iris than it is in Caitlin or most of the women in Arrow.

        Precisely because Iris is so important to the Flash mythos, I hope the show buckles down and treats her with respect. I guess I just already see her as a great character and enjoy the potential she’s exhibiting despite the writing hindrances around her. Here’s hoping she learns the truth about the Flash in season one, at least, so we can at least dispense with that particular trope.

      2. I have to disagree with reading that scene as Iris being regarded as a ‘prize’. The buzzwords are ‘I wanna tell you’, ‘I tell her everything’ and ‘I just couldn’t lie to you anymore.’. Barry cares about Iris romantically, but he wants to tell her because she’s his best friend. His desires around her have never been voiced because it’s clear his occupation with her is as a person rather than just a love interest.

      3. I think they’re developing Iris’ journalism to act as a publicity force around meta humans, not just for a love triangle.

      4. Soo are we gonna act like every comic book hero doesn’t have a beauty that he fawns over or are we gonna act like Iris is the first cause Im very confused by that comment you made. Maybe your issue with Iris stems a little deeper than that, if this argument is what you decide to base your like or dislike on. She has proven blatantly with the writers help of course that she is more than Barry or Eddie but some of you just choose to ignore it because she isn’t fawning over Barry like Felicity does Oliver. Im sorry she isn’t the nerdy hot girl who gets the broody guy, this isn’t that kind of love story

        1. “Im sorry she isn’t the nerdy hot girl who gets the broody guy”

          THAT I’m glad of. I hate the Olliver/Felicity love element. I like Felicity as a person who sees what Ollie is doing and wats to be a part of it. The romance angle just leaves me cold.

          And no, it’s not the first. It’s a boring, tired, trope. Iris is clearly strong enough, using your arguments and the Tockman takedown scene (one of my favorites, btw). But no, they have to do the “you can’t tell her” cliche.

  5. Iris is ridiculously developed compared to both Caitlin and Felicity. Sure, Joe West keeping her in the dark is silly but it doesn’t relate to her writing as a character.

    1. I hear the argument with Caitlin, but Felicity? Respectfully disagree.

      And yeah, it impacts her writing. It makes sure she stays the damsel, to be fought over or rescued. She can’t handle the truth? C’mon.

      1. Felicity at this point was just a cute, blonde I.T. girl and she only got a family by season three. But that doesn’t happen, Iris’ narrative is that of someone who seeks out the truth by herself, by being a reporter and defying her father and Barry. She’s also never, ever been a damsel. She’s rescued Barry as much as he has her, she saved a team of Police and two males being romantically attracted to her does not mean she’s being ‘fought over’, as her choices on her on romantic endeavours are respected.

        1. “She’s also never, ever been a damsel”

          I must have been watching a different episode with Girder, then. She’s a classic damsel in that.

          “two males being romantically attracted to her does not mean she’s being ‘fought over’”

          No, but two males literally fighting over her (Rainbow Raider episode) is. Her “views” don’t enter that this is the trope.

          And as I mention in another comment, her taking down Tockman *was* nice. They need to give her more moments like that.

          1. But in the ‘classic damsel’ episode she takes down Grider with a knock out punch. Incredibly similarly to her episode with the Clock King in that she is in a situation that could be her being a damsel but isn’t.

            Rainbow raider episode? If you’re talking about The Flash vs Arrow, Barry clearly has a problem with Eddie and attacks him. Iris attempts to talk him down. That’s not two makes fighting over or for her.

          2. But similarly to Felicity, Iris didn’t get involved with the Flash because of her feelings with Barry or if she did, it was quickly dispelled for her faithfulness in journalistic integrity.

          3. Did she walk into that on her own accord or was she put there. I just hope you guys are talking this much when in “Going Rogue” it is Caitlin who is the supposed “damsel in distress” and not Iris cause if not we will be having a completely different discussion on what you guys dont and do like about Iris

        2. Felicity originally showed up to be part of Team Arrow because she wanted to help her boss, Walter, who she liked, and because she was smart enough to figure out Ollie pretty fast.

          That’s what I mean by “agency.” She joined Team Arrow because she wanted to help on her own motivations, not because she admired Oliver. It doesn’t seem much but it made her an entire person, not someone who existed as a plot point.

          Lately, however, all her scenes revolve around Oliver being sad because he can’t be with her. This despite the fact that she’s *already in danger all the time* because she’s part of Team Arrow. I can’t see that sleeping with Ollie makes it any more dangerous. This is written this way to make the audience feel sad for poor Oliver who can’t have her. What we see of her now is usually a reflection of how Oliver sees her.

          1. To be completely accurate, Felicity joined Team Arrow because the producers saw her in what was intended to be a one-time bit role and they yelled “HER! We want more of HER!” Emily Bett Rickards took what was originally an easter egg appearance and turned it into a supporting role entirely through sheer force of personality.

            Now if they can just write to that personality more often….

    2. WOW such a stately opinion on a non fleshed out character. I see you are a fan of the nerdy hot girl who gets the main guy huh. You must be if you completely disregard Iris as being ridiculously developed when we have yet to learn anything about Caitlin either outside of the men in her life also, but hey you wanna see what you wanna see. What you wont do is completely ignore the narrative writers have put in front of you about how much more Iris is and will be

      1. ” I see you are a fan of the nerdy hot girl who gets the main guy huh”

        Not even a little.

        I *want* Iris to be more. Badly. But they keep writing her as less. It’s not Lana in season 1 of Smallville bad, but it’s irksome.

  6. Please reconsider Iris West. I enjoy your commentary but you seem biased to the point of being sexist around her as you give evidence for all bad writing apart from Iris’ characterisation which you just assume we’ll all agree is bad.

    1. Ah, no. The point is that all those examples are distilled *in* Iris.

      And no, you don’t have to agree. I don’t assume everyone will agree with me. heck, I hope Iris has legions and legions of fans.heck, I’m a huge fan of her Tockman takedown. more like that, please.

      1. She does have legions of fans. I’m just disappointed because she is a unique character who us passed over because some people have decided they just don’t like her. In terms of the examples distilling into Iris, they unequivocally do not. If anything removal of the female character from the main narrative us combated directly by her blog.

        1. To make it short: I want Iris given *agency* in the storyline aside from her role as Joe’s daughter, Eddie’s girlfriend or Barry’s crush.

          The blog was more about how Barry reacted to her to bring up that secret identity triangle.

          Here’s a good example from Agent Carter: she works with a roomful of people. Men. They’re not interested in her romantically (save perhaps one). Yet all of them, in 3 episodes, has a distinct personality and agenda. The Chief is obviously dedicated to the job–he’s seen doing his job, not just as an obstacle to Peggy.

          Chad Michael Murray’s character already has hints of a tortured past, Souza obviously has a story behind him, and even the last agent (won’t give away spoilers) had a distinct life off-screen that we knew about.

          As does Angie. We know about her hopes and dreams. And we even know the woman running the boarding house has a particular agenda.

          Iris’ agenda utterly revolves around the Flash. Do we ever see her reading any good journalism stories? Books? Does she mention someone like, say, Edna Buchanan? Does she talk about her journalism heroes and what they’d do? Does she have any fictional heroes?

          I *want* to know. I love Iris in the comics and this version of her has so.much.potential.

          1. I agree with this point. But there are interests of Iris that are mentioned however briefly, such as European folklore and Psychology. She’s not shown to be hugely into journalism away from meta humans because the show is also a narrative arc concerning her garnering respect as a journalist. I think she’s portrayed in a similar way to many other characters in that she’s an incredibly intelligent twenty something who doesn’t quite know where to go with it. The usage of an ensemble cast means that absolutely no one has interests outside of The Flash (or Ronnie) at this point. Meaning that if these charges are levelled against Iris despite her soon recieving her own supporting cast and career story then it must be levelled against Cisco, Caitlin, Harrison, Joe and Eddie. As I’ve said before work needs to be done. But her character has been established as three dimensional and unique and that’s what will hopefully lead to viewers being interested in her own arcs.

          2. Don’t ever compare woman of one show to woman of another show. Your argument becomes invalid to me as a woman the second you do that. We are not types that you wanna see okay. We are all different and deserve to be written as such. Iris is driven by love and passion not facts and what other people tell her, so yeah when her best friend of 14 years told her journalism would best suite her she went for it because once again she is driven by love for Barry, the impossible, and Central City. That is all that is driving here everything else takes a backseat. And please don’t try to act like we all weren’t bored with a class or major at some point in our college years. I mean damn a male protagonist could literally have bodies under his name and you guys will excuse that but a woman who cant decide what she wants to do… Oh My God call the police… Come on guys give her the benefit of the doubt please

        2. She does? The TV version? Because comic book iris? Big fan, even with the silly “soul from the future” thing.


          I don’t “not like her”. I wish she had better plotlines. Huge difference.

          Now Cisco, Cisco I kinda don’t like. Little too much of a “Snapper Carr” vibe right now. (pun not intended).

          1. I dislike Cisco’s casual misogyny. Yes? The TV version is very much loved. I agree about the story lines part but her new reporting job seems to work towards her having good story lines.

  7. What drives me nuts visually is the way all the females seem to be pulling their clothes from the same clothing rack. Their clothes seem more designed to draw the male eye then reflect anything about their personality, job, or personal taste. Thea is the only one who seems to have a distinct style, but even she falls into the “too short, too tight, with death heels” clothing. Felicity clothing seems to be becoming more and more like Laurel’s. Laurel during her “working with the poor” and “DA” phases should have been wearing more sensible outfits that would be comfortable for an long workday and would fit in her income/not alienate clients, instead she is in expensive designer super short skirts with doe eye makeup. Felicity was in IT and for a while was wearing longer skirts/dresses (while slacks would have been more likely) but considering how much time she spends at the arrow lair, how is she not shown in jeans and a t-shirt? Something that matched up with “long day at work, worn out, oh look a server to pull apart, joy”.

    They spent way too much time lingering on Black Canary’s cleavage. She actually should have remarked at some point that she wore that top to distract men. It was like a bulls-eye “stab me here!”

  8. That’s actually a brilliant part about wardrobe. During the Felicity Flash episode I was puzzled as to why in the world Felicity would show up to trivia night at a coffee shop dressed like that, beyond the “HA HA” moment. It’s not like she didn’t know what they were doing. It didn’t fit.

    And now you have me thinking about other sartorial choices.

  9. It is impossible to see Iris’ complexities, if you discount her as a woman. She’s a wonderful, lovely character and as a woman, I respect her the most as she comes off as the most realistic outside of “creepy” fanboy and fangirl worlds. Iris, is the girl next door. Caitlin is lovely, but HAS NOT BEEN DEVELOPED, like what? Believing otherwise is proof positive that you, the writer, are dealing with rose-colored glasses when it comes to Caitlin and thick, heavy veils, when it comes to Iris. They can be removed, but why would you when it is convenient to dismiss what you don’t want to see.

  10. Yeah, so, I don’t agree with the Iris examination entirely. I understand that she is not a fully realized character as of yet, but it is only the first half of the first season so your judgemental statements came off harsh, not hopeful. Also, I’m not sure what you’re expecting from these two shows. That they won’t be like comic books? They’re based off comic books, what exactly did you expect? Especially since one of the show runners is a comic book writer, you should understand that this is just a live action graphic novel with a touch of modernization, not a crusade to alter the depiction of women in television. Besides, Iris is far more developed than a lot of the women on CW flicks as she possesses her own interests and the small preferences and ticks that make her seem human. Caitlin, in contrast, is depicted minimally and definitely needs a stronger personality in order to get out of the Ronnie trap they’ve set up for her (i.e. The perpetual sadness and covering up of that sadness she’s going to feel while chasing after a guy that wants to stay away from her. Also, the show runners say she is going to look for a date in the new episodes which wouldn’t really make sense unless there was some huge time leap because she just found out her fiancé is still alive and hurting, even if he he insists not to see her. That’s on odd thing to do, honestly.). I’m not a huge Danielle Panabaker fan and some of the lines of Caitlin were weakly-written but I think they might be able to turn her around by making her angry instead of sad. I’d love to see her confront Ronnie and instead of doing the cliche, teary-eyed plea for him to come home, she just goes off on him like “I am not even going to ask what you’ve been doing or where you’ve been all this time because obviously you don’t think I have a right to know, and after all this time I’m not really sure who you are anymore, but this ring I haven’t taken off my finger for the entire nine months you were missing says you owe me. If nothing else, you owe me this. Come to Star Labs and try to get better. If not for me…, then for the guy who once gave me this ring. That’s the least you could do.”

    Wow. I went off on a tangent. What was I even saying? Bleh. I just want to rewrite Caitlin all by myself because I just can’t stand her right now. Anyway, back to Iris, she’s fairly fleshed out in comparison, I have a good list of her likes and dislikes and I feel like I could actually meet her in real life. Her comic book destiny is to become a world-class journalist and the love of Barry’s life so it makes sense that he is a catalyst in that regard. I think they did that to make the love those two share that much stronger. Also, the fact that Iris is able to handle herself is a welcome change from the classic comic book damsel in distress syndrome. Is she ever going to be your much beloved Agent Carter? No. But she’s definitely better than a majority of female characters playing opposite a male lead on television these days and I can already see the subtle ways the show runners have set her up to have her own subplot and story that intertwines with the Flash’s as they become closer to each other romantically. Plus, I don’t know why everyone thinks he’s so creepy for liking her. They’re close, but not blood related and just because they were raised in the same house does not equivocate incest. I’d understand Joe had legally adopted him or they’d grown up thinking they were siblings, but it doesn’t make any sense from the angle you’re talking about.

    Sorry for the rant. My mind is sluggish due to a long day at school.

    1. You’re honestly starting to win me over to your view of Caitlin.

      You’re right, it’s not incest, but there’s an ick factor there for me. It’s like falling for your foster sister. Just…boundaries.

  11. “And Iris is the worst written character on both shows.”

    We haven’t got too much of her, but what we’ve got shows a lot more potential than half the characters on Arrow, and certainly more than Caitlin. I have no idea where you’re getting this from, to the point I wonder if you find her the least attractive girl (and as a result least engaging to you) and have decided she’s the worst for that reason alone. Because otherwise that comment makes no sense.

    1. Oh heck no. If we’re going for attractiveness, Iris is a thousand times better looking than other women. She’s also a thousand times less annoying than Laurel.

      Looks have nothing to do with it. It’s the writing is not attractive.

  12. Let me try to explain a little further.
    What if you take Barry, Joe and Eddie away from the show for an episode. Do we know what Iris would be doing without them? Do we know what kind of classes she’s enjoyed in the past, what kind of movies she really likes (since we know she goes to the movies that Barry likes), what her eventual hopes and dreams might be? Has she ever been worried that, with her mother not around, that something would happen to her dad? Does she have abandonment issues?

    Why is she working at the coffee shop? Is she there because she likes the challenge of getting orders fast? Or does she like interacting with all the customers and figuring them out?

    Now, we may not be able to answer all these questions for every character, particularly not a main character, but we know, for instance, that Joe lives and breathes being a police officer, that he’s concerned about his partners, and that he’s seen by other people at the precinct as one of the best officers. If Joe showed up on, say Law & Order (Hah!), we’d have a pretty good idea how he’d behave with other cops.

    Caitlin has had less to do but she’s been given more backstory and a profession that she clearly likes doing, which says a lot about her.

    Iris–we know she likes Eddie but we don’t see *why* she likes Eddie. I mean, he’s cute but is it adolescent rebellion against a sometimes controlling father? (We don’t have enough information for that either.) We don’t see what interests her about Eddie.

    Journalists are usually storytellers from a young age and they’re curious about everything. But Iris doesn’t seem curious about anything but the Flash. A running joke about how Iris, say, makes up stories about her repeat customers and wonders what they do in their off time would flesh her out and take up very little time, and you could also make her curious about why Oliver Queen might show up in Central City, etc.

    There’s a lot that could and should be done with Iris that would take up very little screen time. And instead, we mostly see Barry watching Iris who’s usually watching Eddie.

    1. Wrong. Simply wrong. Because you don’t care enough about Iris’ humanity, you haven’t internalized everything that we’ve been told about her.

      Detractors cannot “see” Iris and that is their personal wall not allowing them to do so..

      FIRST THINGS FIRST, though. What on Earth do we know about Caitlin outside of Ronnie, her profession, that she doesn’t believe there can be a honeymoon with Mai Tais, and the name of her bully in school? JUST SAYING THAT WE HAVE MORE BACKGROUND ON CAITLIN DOESN’T MAKE IT SO. IT IS NOT TRUE.

      *******Here’s what I know,and love, about Iris.
      1. Eddie is Iris’ first real boyfriend because she believed her life to be so fulfilled with Barry, etc… that she never had the room until Barry was missing from her life those 9 months;
      2. She wanted to be a cop but her father wouldn’t let her;
      3. She’s working on her dissertation and has a coffee shop gig on the side;
      4. She was taught by her father to fight/box/defend herself since the age of six;
      5. She lost her mother’s wedding ring on a fifth grade school trip where she cried for days;
      6. She has a list of three guys that she would risk her relationship to be with (a normal and cute thing that is typically for fun though some have tried to make her out to be evil);
      7. She is protective over Barry;
      8. She started her blog, inspired by Barry’s blog, to help prove that Barry is not “crazy”;
      9. We know that Iris, over the nine months Barry was in the hospital, stayed by his side;
      10. Iris stress eats;
      11. Iris and Barry are best friends;
      12. Iris likely served as a peacemaker between Joe and Barry all of her life (see pilot);
      13. Iris is very loving towards Barry and is constantly propping up his ego because she knows he has been seen as an “outsider” to peers, and possibly other reasons…
      14. We know that Iris and Barry used to stay up at nights talking;
      15. We know that Iris was interested in European Art history but that Barry talked her out of it in favor of journalism;
      16. Iris knows Barry better than anyone which is why she could not understand his lack of interest in her blog;
      17. Iris is strong-willed;
      18. Iris is forgiving;

  13. Thank you for replying and explaining further.
    Here is my rebuttal:

    1. If we took Barry, Joe and Eddie away from the show for one episode, Iris would be working at Jitters, working on updating her blog, interacting with new metahumans in the ways she did Grider and possibly going to school or working on her school projects or dissertations. We’ve seen evidence of the first three as she regularly updates her blog on metahumans that aren’t Barry (she was able to help Caitlin with Firestorm) and it is shown to be read by people as far as Central City regularly. We haven’t *seen* her working on school work, or graduate studies as of yet, but it’s been mentioned multiple times. These aspects of course need to be fleshed out incredibly. But, after the first nine episodes it’s very clear that Iris is a character with her own interests that are uninvolved with Barry.

    2. Why is she working in a coffee shop? I assume that’s fairly self explanatory and she’s doing it to support herself through school (the same reason why she still lives at home with Joe).

    3. So, we know that Joe is a Police Officer. And that’s about all. You say that you know that he lives and breathes being a police officer but in fact thats you creating a narrative in a way you are refusing to do for Iris, using far less information. We know Joe West’s profession and attitude towards it because it interacts with Barry. We know nothing about his leisure activities or romantic relationships or anything but his relationship with Iris and Barry. This is a sign of him being more underdeveloped than Iris when not involved with Barry.

    4. Caitlin has been given a backstory which revolves completely and utterly around her romantic relationship. She is sad because of Ronnie. Her whole journey this season is because of Ronnie. She’d happily give up her job because of Ronnie. Barry cheers her up when he talks about Ronnie. In later episodes she pursues Ronnie. She becomes a super villan in relation to Ronnie. This is a sign of her being more underdeveloped with regards to her characterisation than Ronnie. Her story doesn’t centre around Barry, but it definitely centres around a man.

    5. Iris has had a conversation with Eddie in which she relayed her romantic history, and the fact that she ‘didn’t know how to love’ and ‘hasn’t had a serious relationship yet’. We have no idea what interests her about Eddie, but as we only have nine episodes this seems to be one of the most realistic portrayls of a relationship in your mid-twenties. In life, and in realistic TV for an eight month relationship, one doesn’t always know exactly how they feel about someone or exactly why. These issues are likely to be addressed by the fact that they are moving in, in further episodes.

    6. I would love to have a running joke about Iris making up stories though we had something similar in ‘My hearing is fine, it’s just selective’ , and a throwaway line she has about wanting to study ‘European folklore’. But in terms of journalism and curiousity we already have her basis. In several episodes she’s been referred to as the only one who ever believed Barry and someone who was incredibly interested in joining the police force. She’s shown to speculate on Barry’s powers, and how he changes his voice, as well as other metahumans. She’s also shown to be incredibly interested in journalistic integrity and the right of people to know about metahumans. It shows that from a young age she’s been morally guided by a desire to discover and to share these discoveries with people.

    To underline my point, Iris West needs to be fleshed out more. This is incredibly true, but it’s also episode nine of the first season of the show. The problem with Iris and her motivations being tied to men is the fact that the show is disproportionately male. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed and hopefully is with the introduction of Linda Park. Until that problem is addressed, both Iris and Caitlin’s interactions will primarily be with males as there is absolutely no one else apart from each other to converse with. Iris West has extreme potential, and in this comment section it has seemed as though Iris has been held to standards that Caitlin Snow, Felicity Smoak and none of the male characters of The Flash are being held to whatsoever.

    This is a problem, Iris West is a unique representation of a three dimensional, curious, warm and stubborn woman, and to devalue that is devaluing the continued representation of different archetypes of women on TV. If all women have to be similar to Felicity Smoak in that they have to be into a STEM field and quirky it is impossible to have varied representations of women on TV.

  14. The writers here are a hot mess especially when it comes to the Flash. Iris as the worst written character…when Caitlin is a medical doctor but couldn’t order full blood work for Barry after he was a ten month patient, Barry suffering from hypoglycemia as a joke isn’t funny with his incompetent doctor standing right there looking bewildered, nor can she tell that Wells hasn’t suffered from any muscle atrophy with the paralysis! God damn Iris is a much better written character on skills alone, she manages a coffee shop (she closes it alone at night), and self started an investigative blog that Oliver, Caitlin, Wells, and Cisco use, you know all your favorites. Hell Oliver went to Iris’s blog for his precious Batmanesque prep time ritual. I see she gets no credit there, she gets insulted for having the blog. Caitlin needs too look for Firestorm, who does she ask for info??

    Secondly, you guys can’t tell the difference between Peek-a-boo and Vixen two very difference characters. The fact that you guys ignored the important positive affect Iris has had on non-Barry characters so your complaints will have merit plus the mixup between Peek-a-boo and Vixen, it seems like it’s not Iris’s writing that’s the problem for ya’ll, not surprising considering the unrealistic and yet non existent WoC in Agent Carter…

  15. “Secondly, you guys can’t tell the difference between Peek-a-boo and Vixen two very difference characters.”

    We totally can. We’re not saying the second (as we totally blanked on Plastique – ding us for THAT all you want) meta is Vixen, we’re saying the announced Vixen doesn’t count because she’s stated to not be meta, but magic.

    I see how that could have been misunderstood.

  16. Also, this is probably stupid to even address, but I’m a bit bugged by the implications some are throwing around that I don’t like Iris because she’s a woman of color. That has nothing to do with it. I actually think the actress is doing the best job possible with the writing.

    I’m actually thrilled that they chose to cast a WoC as Iris. I wish they’d have do more casting like that (for example, Roy – why did he have to be white, exactly?).

    I promise I’ll ding racial issues on shows when I see them (like Agents of SHIELD killing Trippe in the finale. REALLY?!). Agent Carter kinda gets a pass because of the setting, though.

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