She looks up at Barry and flashes a shy smile. Then she gives him a tragic backstory that formed on the same night our hero got his new powers. It’s a poignant moment and there’s something like longing between the two of them as they seem to share everything they each have to hide from the rest of the world. Viewers take to Tumblr to GIF, screenshot, dissect, and digest the moment. A new “ship” is launched and a new fandom born. A television show couldn’t ask for a better romantic set up for their lead.

The only problem? This scene is between Barry Allen and Caitlin Snow, a minor comic book character turned TV show Girl Friday played by Danielle Panabaker.

Canonically Barry had a love for the storybooks with Iris West. They fought crime, navigated secret identities and adopted kids together. Iris is up there with Lois Lane and Mary Jane in the annals of most excellent superhero lovers.

But not on CW’s The Flash.

There Iris is Barry’s adoptive sister. He has a crush on her and she’s as oblivious to it as she is his super powers.

It’s a familiar recipe to fans of CW superheroes. On Arrow Ollie was confessing deep secrets to Felicity half a season in while keeping canon love interest Laurel Lance at arms’ length for nearly two years. And back on Smallville Clark could tell Chloe by season 4 while poor Lana Lang ran around confused until season 6 and Lois languished in la la land until season 9.

Each show persists in putting the traditional love interest into a box, compartmentalizing her and keeping her far away from all the action, while the best friend (who happens to be a lady) is keyed in early, or even shifted to be the new love interest.

The question is why? Why are these women set up as painfully ignorant obstacles who will be immediately cast off in favor of more dynamic heroines?

The roots of this trope can be traced back to Superman’s first appearance in the 1938. Superman is an impervious god among men, but Clark Kent’s big weakness is the love triangle he, his alter ego, and Lois Lane are in. In early comics like that the ignorance of the heroine is an obstacle for the hero to overcome. Shorthand to give him flaws and foibles to face. When stories were told in 13-page chunks that shorthand made sense.

But in a 22-episode series told in 40 minute chunks already chalk full of convoluted backstories, mysterious motivations and a bevy of complex characters an ignorant girlfriend consigned to the damsel in distress ghetto stands out as lazy (or worse, misogynistic) storytelling.

Iris West may be the most egregious example thus. In the second episode she’s literally silenced by Barry’s powers so he can have an existentially pathos-loaded monologue concerning his new talents. She stands inert–no longer a character but an object he emotes in the general direction of. Even Clark Kent, with his god-like powers, didn’t turn his love interest into a whine receptacle.

And poor Candice Patton has to spend more than half of every interview defending Iris and insisting she’s not “just” a damsel in distress. While Danielle Panabaker, the show’s other heroine, gets to talk about the pathos her character possesses. She gets to be a character with sharp edges and important thoughts. She gets to call Barry Allen out and participate in his adventures.

It’s disquieting to watch. Particularly as Panabaker is white and Patton is black. The show can find time to flesh out the white heroine in just three episodes, while the black heroine is little more than a checklist of love interest tropes existing on the fringe of things–excluded from the inner circle.

It’s a more severe example of the treatment Laurel Lance has faced. Treatment that had people campaigning for Laurel’s death on Tumblr and complaining about her mere presence in recaps and reviews. Iris West is now facing a steep uphill battle that better-penned love interests have struggled to climb.

The CW has set another heroine up to fail, because at the end of the day she, Laurel and all the rest are still just obstacles for the big male heroes to overcome.

  • Νίκη Π.

    Okay, wow. I don’t remember since when an article has made me this angry.

    How you describe it, it’s not how I see it on tumblr; and I’m pretty active at it. The fandom is sort of torn in half. Half prefer Barry & Iris, half Barry & Caitlin. And many, many of them can’t decide between the two. So there’s indeed this 50/50 situation. But Arrow isn’t 50/50; Arrow is like 90/10, with 90 going for Oliver & Felicity. That gap didn’t happen just because Felicity stormed in and all of a sudden the main lead lost interest; there was a very, very serious problem with the story and the plot since the beginning. The leading hero cheated on her with his love interest’s sister, something that led to her death. Me, as a woman who shows respect for herself, would never be able to root for that kind of pairing.

    This isn’t what The Flash is. People watched as much as a trailer and they declared already that they’re going to root for Caitlin and Barry, where all she did was tell him to pee on a cup (as if it’s not any doctor’s business to tell you that). Barry and Iris weren’t even given a chance from the majority of those who support the other pairing.

    But this isn’t just about the pairing. The way you portray Iris to be as an individual in this article is the opposite of what she’s actually shown to be. She’s a girl with an over-protective father who is stepping out in the world. She’s learning not to withdraw any longer. Her life had been pretty simple and full, and then her best friend in life was struck by a lightning. She had to spend 9 months of her life worrying every day that he’s never gonna wake up. Is it really such a bad thing that she’s actually a person who wakes up with a smile on her face? Is it a bad thing that she’s actually kind and friendly with every woman she meets, instead of trying to pull her eyes out? Because I find these qualities quite admirable. /That’s/ good character portrayal. Iris IS a great female character. She’s kind, smart, fun, funny, teasing, beautiful, stubborn, passionate and friendly. It’s not the writer’s or the CW’s fault if some choose to ignore that. How ironic, huh? On Arrow, we all adore Felicity for how she radiates light and life, and now that we find another character who does the exact same thing, people hate on her and dismiss her as if she’s useless?

    Not all progress is about the main action. The problem with Laurel Lance was that for two seasons, we’ve barely seen any growth; emotional or action-themed. Even though Iris wasn’t in the middle of the action until 1×04, the emotional growth has been present. Like I said, she’s stepping on her feet. She wants to be with someone, she won’t step back just to do her father a favor. Yet, when she realizes a mistake she’s made, she won’t feel bad for apologizing over and over again. That relationship with Eddie? That’s another new thing for her. She’s actually a girl who is thirsty for action and answers, and when they’re not given to her she will go out there and get them herself. She’s not stepping away from it, and in fact is becoming the link between The Flash and the rest of the world. They’ll love him through her, they’ll know him through her. And that’s even before she’s an actual love interest. Such role in the hero’s story shouldn’t be dismissed like that. Now, regarding Barry as the person? She adores him with all of her heart and does whatever she cans to see him happy. It has always been like that; her being around him, beside him, and adoring him for who he is. Even though she can’t talk science, she finds it cute and adorable that Barry is one. She’s teasing him, not judging him.

    She’s not in on the secret, but not for the stereotypical “oh hey love of my life I want you safe so you won’t find out.” It wasn’t Barry’s choice not to tell her; this was a promise he gave Joe. If it was up to Barry, Iris would be the first person to know.

    What a misunderstood way to describe the scene In 1×02. This wasn’t him “flashing” his powers to her (like, why would he do that? It’s not like she could see anyways). This was him telling all the truth he can’t have her actually hear. Like I said, Barry was dying to tell Iris. He wanted to share with her what happened to him and how it changed him. And he wanted to tell her the truth he’s been keeping from her for years. Because in that scene he also confessed his feelings for her. In the pilot, before the explosion, he was about to ask her out (when she cut him off). Now he can’t do that either, because she’s with someone else. Getting in the middle just doesn’t seem like something Barry would ever do.

    Lastly, can we please stop with the whole adoptive/incest thing, because it disgusts me? Barry and Iris are NOT related and they’re NOT adoptive siblings either. They were best friends for YEARS before Joe took him in. He lived with them for several years and later got his own place. He’s not a sibling in any way. They’re bonded and close as family, but that’s it.

    Do you wanna talk about plot holes and cheap storylines? The fact that they have a woman who lost the love of her life 9 months ago, and the male lead who she met 1-2 weeks ago, have too ridiculously obvious parallel moments with said heroines previous relationship. I’m not saying Barry and Caitlin won’t happen because anything can happen; I actually find it quite possible (although I see no romantic chemistry there, but that’s me). But no, I DON’T wanna hear from goddamn 1×02 how she got as mad only with Ronnie. Not when it was revealed in the next episode that she’s still in love with him (and also so NOT dead). Ronnie will be back soon. These kinds of parallel moments (again, so damn SOON) are only dismissing Caitlin to a potential love interest, which is actually shame. Where’s the progression here? You’d be surprised with the amount of people I’ve found having the exact same problem. So, even though clearly the one side of the fandom is more vocal than the other, the amount of supporters is pretty much the same. And in the end of the day? It’s only 1×04. It’s not possible for every single character in the show to do backflips by then. That’s why the show has 23 episodes per season.

    • I don’t necessarily agree with you (I still think the show is mishandling Iris and she should be at the forefront of development versus other characters) but hot damn do I love this response. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it!

      • Νίκη Π.

        Oh don’t get me wrong, I do agree that she should be upfront. I just happen to understand that, no matter what, this story is Barry’s story. Every superhero show starts with missions that this hero has to accomplish. So, normally, those who are most involved are those who are in on his secret. It bugs me that she’s not super involved in the middle of the fire yet. I’m just willing to be patient as long as her role isn’t colored as ‘insignificant’ just because she’s not tied elbow-to-elbow with Barry.

    • Jennifer

      I love your overall perspective of this show and of Iris. Thank you for your thorough response because it is awesome! Your summary of the character Iris has become thus far in just 4 episodes of the show is completely SPOT ON! Unlike the writer here, I love Iris’ character and I have great vision for her character’s future.

    • ALL HAIL KING BIMPY

      You have too many generalizations in your argument…

    • Tony

      Joe is Barry’s adoptive Father and even says so in the show. That makes Iris Barry’s adoptive sister. I have friends that are adopted and they all agree (as does everybody i know that watches the show) that dating your adoptive brother/sister is a huge no go and is disgusting at the most and odd at the least.

      • Absolutely agree. Everytime they seem like they are eyeing each other I can only feel like they are brother and sister. I can’t support that because my heart and experience doesn’t allow me. I see it just as creepy and it taints a lot of scenes like Barry asking Joe for advice regarding his feelings for Iris. What are the show runners trying to do? COuldn’t they just have him grow up with another family or something?

        • Sorry for the late follow-up. But in the very FIRST episode, Iris told Barry he was “like her brother” though that may be paraphrasing. Then it was stated multiple times later during the course of the season.

          Also, whenever Barry introduces Iris he appears nervous and references her as a “friend”. There is one scene I cannot recall when, but I feel it was in the latter half of the season. I had the perceptive that Barry interrupted Iris’s own introduction to introduce her as his “friend”. I got the feeling otherwise she would have stated “sister”.

      • Νίκη Π.

        The thing that people keep forgetting is that Joe hasn’t adopted Barry ON PAPER; it’s just a word they’re using to describe how close they are. Joe in reality is Barry’s guardian; there’s a huge difference. Not to mention, when Barry moved in he was already 11 years old and he left again after finishing high-school. They weren’t born under the same roof, Barry had a crush on Iris even before they moved in. When they talk about each other, they don’t say “he’s/she’s my brother/sister”; they say “she’s/he’s my BEST FRIEND.” Joe himself — Iris’ FATHER — knew all these years and WAITED for Barry to tell Iris. Exactly because he knew he didn’t raise them as siblings but as two people really close with each other. I mean, if he’s okay with it and Iris is okay with it and Barry is okay with it, what’s your problem?

        • Tony

          it’s extremely weird how ok everybody is with it is my problem, you are saying it isn’t on paper and i don’t understand where you are getting that from? He clearly says Joe is his adoptive father, which in turn makes Iris his adoptive sister. Once again i have friends in a similar situation and both of them say that is a serious no go, and i agree. You can’t just get adopted by somebody and it not be put down on paper, things of this nature are extremely documented and Joe is legally Barry’s father.

  • UNeedToSee

    With all due respect, I think people should wait a bit longer before jumping on such a negative conclusion. So now, she is poorly written only because she’s not in the know of Barry’s secret? Or because she’s black? After only 4 episodes? I don’t know, is that really enough to build someone’s background? To give her a full development? NO! And if anyone thinks that’s already the case with Caitlin, then it’s very sad too. Because all we know about her is: she’s part of the Team Flash and therefore takes part in the action; she lost a fiancé; she’s uptight and rarely smiles. I like her, but except for her being in the action, I don’t see how she’s better written than Iris. If Iris needs to pout for 40 minutes to be appraised by people, well I’m glad she’s not!

    Now I agree she’s been kept away from all the fun during those first 4 episodes. But soon she’s gonna meet The Flash, soon she’ll be more active. So maybe, just maybe, people should first see it before judging.
    And please, can you guys stop comparing iris with Laurel? They’re like complete opposites!
    Oh, and I know it’s a bit hard to see because the Snowbarry fanbase is apparently more visible, but hey.. FLASH NEWS: The fanbase is much more torn than you think. Just saying..

    • Νίκη Π.

      PREACH! Thank you! You have the patience of a saint for keeping your composure so nicely.

    • But can’t we make something of an educated conclusion by examining CW’s history with heroines of Iris’ ilk? She could be a great character but the show is more than happy to examine other characters (and guest stars) instead.

      My fingers are definitely crossed that things change, but Barry’s speedy confession has me hella wary.

      • UNeedToSee

        I agree the show seems to focus more on other aspects & characters than Iris right now. All I’m saying is, to talk about how good or bad-written a character is, it’s wiser to wait a bit more than 4 episodes. Like, for example, episode 5 was better for her. She was proved to be a headstrong and combative woman. Sure she’s not under the spotlight because most of her development is connected with Barry/The Streak for now.. But at least, that’s a good start :) She’s got a strong personality that just hasn’t been discovered yet, but let’s just give it some time. And I don’t know, maybe your mind will change by mid-season. If not, then I’ll be able to understand what you’re saying. But stating that the character development is a failure after only 4 episodes – I lknow I’m overstating your article a little, but that’s more or lwhat you wrote .. Well, for me, it’s not right. Especially when you start comparing her with caitlin, which I find very unfair. Because as far as I could see, we didn’t go much further for Caitlin either. Her fiancé is gone, she’s cold, she’s part of the team, and then what? That’s only 3 things we know about her. Not much, really. So why can she be called better than Iris after only 4 episodes?
        Now, you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m just relying, that’s all..

        • I’m a big believer in waiting, but the handling of Iris neatly fits a frustrating pattern CW has when it comes to their comic book heroines.

  • sara

    Are you kidding me? This article has me seeing red. It’s been four episodes her story arc is just beginning. She’s the only one actually believing in the impossible without the luxury of the truth, which is what Barry’s opening monologue asks the audience to do.

  • Helen S

    You summed up my problem with her. She’s just there, just an object to lust over, and she’s the only one that hasn’t been developed. Its only 4 episodes so I have hope, but the writers haven’t done much with her yet.

    Yes she’s smart, sweet, and a caring person, but there’s no story to develop her or evolve her right now. It reminds me of what they did with my girl Laurel towards the end of S1 where her love life became the focus. Thankfully they have evolved her since then.

    I do agree Caitlin and Barry had a fanbase from the trailer alone but it was episode 3 that pushed their popularity cause we learned more about Caitlin and why she is the way she is.

    • Νίκη Π.

      You don’t seem to realize the importance of what she’s doing. She’s the medium, the link between the world and The Streak. Through her, the world will learn about him and know him as a hero. They will know The Flash; his name, and his story. That’s zero development for four episodes to you? Because it looks to me like she’s got one of the most important roles, even though she’s not in the middle of the action yet. I could write a ton more but I don’t see the point.

      • Helen S

        You are simply descriping what she does or eventually will do. None of that equals growth to her CHARACTER. She has 0 storyline or arc RIGHT NOW which is what the author is saying. I don’t care that Barry is in love with her, I care about her being developed beyond being wanted by males. Let’s see where the blog story takes her.

        Well if you believe that all those “shippers” came from the pilot then that’s on you. From the comments and reviews I read its what made the “snowbarry” ship even more popular as it made you take notice.

        But shipping aside. Caitlin, Barry, Joe, Cisco, and even somewhat Eddie and Wells have had episodes that have made you understand these characters more and see depth and growth. Iris hasn’t had her episode yet.

        • Νίκη Π.

          So what she does is not a character development? Since when? What is she supposed to do in 4 episodes when nothing too drastic has happened to her yet (like meeting the Streak like she’ll do tonight), backflips?

          Do you wanna talk about emotional growth? Then we gotta go on her life as it is now, on the things that have changed and that will change. She basically told Eddie in the third episode that her life had been full until she lost Barry. Then she felt the need to be with someone, to feel bond and connection. Iris’ dream was to become a cop and she was forced not to do it in order to salvage her relationship with her father. 1×03 begins with her being scared of the consequences and by the end of it, she faced her fears and decided what she wants. She fights for a kind of relationship she never had before. That, in my book, is called character growth. In 1×04, she told her father “I’m not withdrawing this time, dad. I’m dating Eddie whether you like it or not.” She’s learning to be stronger and stand by what she wants and believes in. That’s not character growth? Because it screams character growth to me. Her actually finding the one thing that interests her and captures her opened the path for a promising career. She is finding her roots, she’s discovering who she is. That’s an ONGOING storyline. We’ve seen it and we’re still seeing it. If that’s “0 storyline” for you, then that’s not the writer’s fault. It’s yours. Iris is doing as much as she can for the time she’s not in the middle of the action. She’s finding a way to grow, even when her role in the episode is to be a supportive friend or a cheerful woman or a good daughter. But that’s not enough, right? But shouting “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE” to a guy you’ve known for a week -because how dare he use his superpowers to save people instead of waiting for meta-humans to show up his door- is normal and okay because it’s “character progression.” Yeah, no. /That’s/ unrealistic writing.

          And that’s exact proof why the majority of the audience doesn’t believe in the friendship between a man and a woman. No matter the circumstances, no matter the contest they’re talking about, if that guy is the male lead then “WOOOSH! Here’s our new ship!” And anyways, honestly I don’t even care about that. You enjoy the pairing you enjoy and I enjoy the pairing I enjoy. That’s up to each one’s taste and preferences. What the author of this article did was what the Snowbarry fandom does: Finds inconclusive, incorrect and flawed arguments to bash on Iris and make her look as some useless accessory around Barry’s neck in order to push up Barry and Caitlin. There is NOTHING wrong with Iris West, just like there is NOTHING wrong with Caitlin Snow. I’d love for once to read an article about how these two women -who also are the ONLY female characters on the show- could meet and start a friendship. I’d like to see someone acknowledge that it’s okay to have two awesome female characters because there is damn room for both.

        • UNeedToSee

          You say it yourself – she doesn’t have an arc RIGHT NOW! But let’s remember it’s only the beginning of the show.

          “But shipping aside. Caitlin, Barry, Joe, Cisco, and even somewhat Eddie and Wells have had episodes that have made you understand these characters more and see depth and growth”

          Depth? Sure. Growth? Nope. Can you tell me how you saw Caitlin growing during these first episodes, beside the fact she lost her fiancé?

          As for Cisco, we know a bit more about his personality, that’s right. But do we know why? Not really.

          You mentioning Eddie got me extremely confused, to be honest, because we absolutely saw nothing. Sure he’s a nice and funny guy – in one episode! Then what? Nothing! I’m not talking about Barry, Joe and Wells because I agree with you on those characters. But it’s not very difficult to agree, for they are the most important characters on this show now.

          But the others? Don’t get me wrong, I like all of them. I actually like everyone in this show – which is surprising. But talking about character development doesn’t seem right for me. We only know one or two things about them, just like we know one or two things about Iris. The only difference between Iris and all of them? They take part of the action, while iris can’t. Caitlin and Cisco team up with Barry, so obviously, they have an eye on everything that happens to him. As for Eddie, he’s just a cop.

          So that means they’re better written than iris – according to you – only because they get into Barry’s stuff? How is that supposed to make them better characters? Because Iris is just a student, and she doesn’t know about Barry’s secret. She has just met the Streak.. So of course, she can’t be part of it – for now.

          So yeah, I may agree to say that Iris is, for now, away from all this, and therefore she’s not under the spotlight. But that has NOTHING to do with character growth. And I honestly disagree with your definition of character growth, but yeah, anyway..

          • rinoa heartillys

            I think what they need to do with Iris is have her be part of the action on her own. If she’s not going to know the secret yet, they should have Iris investigate things and land in the middle of the action. She can be vital to getting information the team needs, even if she doesn’t know that’s what she is doing. I’m a few eps behind so maybe they’ve already done these things with her. I dunno. Iris being a reporter is a great way to get her in the mix.

  • Jordan

    Pure garbage. That is what this is. The author should ashamed for trying to position this as some sort of critique of the writing when it’s clearly about her preference for the character of Caitlin Snow, who just happens to be white.

    The idea that Iris is poorly written or that Caitlin is better written is something one would subscribe to if one hasn’t been paying attention to the show…or is coming from a place of bias. “She’s boring,” she’s just a love interest” is the classic default argument of those who don’t want to expose their real reasons for disliking or criticizing a character.

    One the actual show, we get to see that Iris is more than just a love interest or a damsel in distress (the latter accusation is especially hilarious since Iris has yet to even be in distress). On the actual show, we get to see the dynamic between a daughter and her overprotective father, a young woman exploring her first real romantic relationship, a student discovering her passion for journalism, a friend who’s actually invested in her best friend’s happiness, so much so that she sacrifices her own personal life to spend time with him. How one could miss these developments is beyond me.

    Alex Cranz, you really should try again because you’ve failed miserably here.

    • I mean…I think you’re reading a lot into this essay that isn’t there.

      And you seem to miss the part where I express frustration with the show’s refusal to develop Iris and their contentedness with making her an object to be desired rather than the fully realized character Patton is clearly trying to portray.

      • Tony

        for one thing the show isn’t called Iris, and she has gotten plenty of screen time, she has gotten plenty of chances to show her love and willfulness to be a journalist, it shows her struggle to be an independent woman and separate from an overprotective father. All they really bother to show of Caitlin is she works at STAR Labs and her Fiance was involved in the Particle Accelerator explosion. When you aren’t in the secret identity loop you can only get so much air time, the show is called FLASH not BARY ALLEN, therefor if you want a ton of iris air time it would be way to much Barry Allen and not enough Flash.

  • truth-peace

    I enjoy the show and Patton’s portrayal of the character Iris. Iris is black and that is the only thing bothering some people. Just get over it! These jealous popular girls I mean TV reviewers should just give the character time to grow and let people enjoy the show without trying to draw attention to something that is not even there. Can we enjoy a TV show for what it is?

  • I’m only going to be brief in this comment given this is a site I’ve never heard of and this is an opinion piece afterall that no one has to agree with. I’m not sure what show you’re watching, but I can reply with certainty, you’re denigrating Iris unnecessarily and without merit. You’re reaching reeeealllly hard to find a legit reason to dismiss the character. And you need to be honest about why you don’t like Iris. You expect to have a white female front and center and because the show made the West family black, and Iris West is the lead woman character on the show, because Barry is so in love with Iris and they’re not disguising it, you don’t like Iris. You can come up with whatever mental tricks you can imagine to justify it, but there it is. Since this is a dishonest review, I’m not going to bother replying as if this is with any logical rebuttal. You want to keep a certain pecking order in place and you’re not getting your way, so just deal with it. Given The Flash is one of CW’s highest-rated shows, millions of people do NOT agree with you and your intentionally slagging Iris will not go unchallenged. But nice try.

    • You know, I was going to ignore this as I’ve ignored every other “stop hating Iris and loving white women!” remark, but I am really disappointed in seeing these comments.

      Did you miss how this entire essay is a criticism of the show’s handling of Iris?

      “The show can find time to flesh out the white heroine in just three episodes, while the black heroine is little more than a checklist of love interest tropes existing on the fringe of things–excluded from the inner circle.”

      Like…I don’t see how that counts as “she hates Iris.”

      But please let us continue to throw up strawmen and ignore the continued cycle of poor management of heroines on these shows. That’s a LOT more fun.

    • Devin

      This article is about way more than just Iris West. This is about the stereotypical archetype superhero based TV shows typecast their lead heroines as. If anything she is defending Iris West.

  • jugss

    I did not like how Iris and Eddie became a couple after Barry got into coma. If I was Barry I wouldn’t bother with her anymore. I’d just find another girl and move on. I know they’re are suppose to be endgame but having the heroine with another guy at the start of a series makes me not route for her. It’s like your reaching for something that is not gonna happen then when you finally got it you realize that it’s not worth it.

  • Devin

    I’m pro-Iris West and a total Barry and Iris fan, but I feel like a lot of people commenting on this article have taken the main idea totally out of context! The writer is not showing preference for Caitlin over Iris, in fact, she is on Iris’s side. She is merely critiquing the fact that in these superhero based television series, the leading ladies are used mainly as a device for love rather than given a complex story line. have not seen Arrow, but I have seen the way the writers pushed Laurel Lance to the side to make way for the cute, brainy computer nerd (whom might I add was only supposed to be on the show for a couple of episodes at most). The same with Smallville. Chloe Sullivan was depicted as this kick ass writer who was always by Clark’s side, while Lana was used as this poor, broken spirit, who was always in need of Clark’s saving (especially in the earlier seasons). I’m not even going to mention that Lois Lane didn’t even come into the picture until four seasons in, but that’s a subject matter for another time. The same thing with Iris. Caitlin is depicted as a broken spirit, but she is not depicted as weak. For example, instead of crying in a corner or into the hands of another man, she puts on a tough exterior. Like Felicity, she is depicted as this brainy scientist who lost her fiance in an accident. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, is that these characters have many layers. As of right now, Iris writes about the Flash and a girl whom Barry has a crush on; her character is not as complex as Caitlin’s. So this brings me to my next question? Why do the leading ladies tend to be hated such as Lois/Lana, Laurel, and Iris and love characters like Chloe Sullivan, Felicity Smoak, and Caitlin Snow? I will tell you. Because they’re characters have depth and dimensionality, they are apart of the team, they are seen as intellectual (not that the others are not, it’s just emphasized more), and they are depicted as strong.

    • rinoa heartillys

      No, they are loved because Chloe, Felicity, and Caitlin are geek girls who aren’t primary LIs. This is something people have already talked about, how fandom puts (white blonde) geek girls on a pedestal. If they have unrequited love for our hero, or are sarcastic, then the adulation gets to be too much. I’ve been in superhero show fandom for a looooong time and I find the adoration of these types of characters fascinating because it usually goes hand in hand with scorn for the other female characters.

      Obviously, any individual can dislike characters for the choices they make, but systemically, it’s a phenomenon in superhero show fandoms and it points to what the sociological makeup of these fandoms think is is the relatable girl, the everywoman, the one most like “us.”

      I find it annoying and it actually does turn me against such archetypes out of spite. Felicity is definitely not given the amount of complexity as Laurel nor has she been given the storylines that Laurel has given so I disagree completely about Arrow.

      I do agree there is a problem when the leading women are treated as objects, but while SV did this at times, it also gave all three female characters ideological and purpose filled lives outside of Clark – actually, Chloe was the one MOST hampered by finding out the secret too early because she literally became Chloogle for Clark and it was detrimental to her personal growth and to his – it was detrimental to her relationships too because her whole world was to be his sidekick – that’s not healthy. So, this is an example of where knowing the secret and becoming too involved eventually comes to hamper the development of the female character in question, until that dependency changed ofc.

      Lois wasn’t even allowed to remotely be a romantic interest till S8 and she only had 13 eps per season back then so she got to develop outside of Clark for 4 seasons. In fact, as a huge Lois Lane fan, I got a kick out of the fact that when Lois started investigating things, she’d get there before Clark or at the same time as Clark, even though she wasn’t on the ‘team’ yet, even though she didn’t have the resources the ‘team’ had, and even though she didn’t know the secret. Frankly, that’s the approach that they need to take with Iris. That she doesn’t need to know the secret to be in involved in the plot of the week and that her skills and her instincts land her in the mix anyway.

      Lana was a love interest off and on, but she did have storylines dealing with her issues, her feelings, and she got to have other friends, relationships, and she changed away from Clark. That relationship, at least the early seasons when Lana didn’t know, does somehow validate the author’s point because Lana was not an investigator and she was more passive in terms of the plot, at least early on.

      I do understand the complaint and I want Iris to get stronger stories and I want the show to treat her as a co-lead tbh.

      So, I can see what the article is saying but I also disagree with some points. I disagree that not knowing the secret somehow weakens the leading female characters and makes them impediments. No, it doesn’t. It can but it doesn’t have to. It only depends on the writing.

  • wydok

    Iris’s “twerk” joke in the Pilot sent me against her from the get-go.

    The character started as a barista working on a doctorate who takes a journalism course for credit (do doctoral candidates need electives?). We never find out what here doctorate was in. She hasn’t mentioned it ONCE since the pilot.

    Meanwhile, she would act dumb any time Barry talked science. It was really frustrating.

    For a while, she was self sufficient and strong. Investigating the Flash, saving herself, etc.

    Now, I don’t know what she is. She’s got a job at the paper, but we never hear about her stories. Is she still working on her doctorate? Or did she drop out of college?

    And in “Rogue Time”, she and Barry have a conversation about their relationship while the Weather Wizard is literally in the middle of destroying the city!

  • Lina

    Iris is smart and the actress is great however, the character is portrayed as a pretty, manipulative mean girl. That must be where the hate is coming from, thats why I don’t like her. She’s mean and is a bit of a bully. The creators of the show need to get the character to learn to negotiate with her loved ones in a bit of a kinder way because Barry Allen is super nice, a team player and comprehends self sacrifice. Who wants a nice guy hero to be duped into another mean girl relationship… no one.