Does the CW Hate Female Characters?

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Posted February 29, 2016 by John Newby in TV

The following opinion is one person’s opinion of CW’s treatment of female characters. This does not represent all of We The Nerdy’s staff members opinions so please take that into consideration if commenting. 

Spoilers Ahead

DC Comics has been experiencing television revitalization with shows like Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and Supergirl introducing new fans to some beloved characters. Of course, the big show of the group, Arrow, started everything off with a fresh take on a legendary character and some very impressive stunt work. Even better, Arrow added in enjoyable new characters that mixed up the comic formula well, but there was one area in which the show failed to live up to expectations—the female characters.

For some reason, every female character in Arrow isn’t allowed to have a single happy moment. Something good will start to happen, but it will immediately be replaced by something tragic. There are multiple examples from the show’s four-year run. Laurel was in the midst of a happy relationship, but her boyfriend died as a city was demolished. Moira Queen was running for mayor and she knew about Oliver’s secret life. Perfect time for her to die a horrible death. Everywhere you look is full of pain and suffering, and this is reflected in the character’s reactions. Maybe the writers are just trying to ramp up the drama, but it’s perplexing to see so many characters act the exact same way, no matter the circumstances.

This drama even extends to Felicity Smoak, who used to be the lone happy character. There was a blissful time back in the first two seasons where Felicity would make jokes at her team’s expense while using computer wizardry to routinely save lives, and she was the best part of the show. Now, Felicity is used as a character that should be pitied. For example, Felicity finally regained her ability to walk after being injected with an experimental piece of technology. This should have been a happy moment, but this happened in the midst of her breaking off an engagement with Oliver. Instead of celebrating her newfound mobility, the viewer was left feeling sorry for her.

Granted, the less-than-spectacular portrayal of women isn’t always focused on anger. Sometimes, these characters make excuses or change their opinions at a moment’s notice to make the male characters look better. During this same episode where Felicity finally walked, Oliver started a frantic search for a kidnapped child. Now, the only reason the child was missing was because of Oliver’s actions. The mother was justifiably angry, and she let him know during a mid-episode argument. The weird thing is that about 10 minutes later, this same mother was trying to convince Felicity that Oliver should be free of blame simply because he was trying to find the kid and appeared to be less of a womanizer than he used to be. It was a jarring change of heart, and it made this mother look like someone who couldn’t stick to her morals.

Not one person is happy.

Not one person is happy.

Now this trend is starting to affect the other shows. The Flash started out as a mostly goofy hero romp, the happy yin to Arrow’s dramatic yang. This tone stayed true during the first season, but things started to get more dramatic as other characters were introduced. Wally West’s appearance, in particular, kickstarted a change for the worse, mostly because of his bad attitude and illegal activities. While Wally was out racing cars, Iris was going from person to person and complaining about the situation. When nobody listened, Iris decided to pursue multiple courses of action that put her in harm’s way. She unfortunately ended up in the hospital and became the stereotypical damsel in distress. Iris has always been a smart and resourceful woman, but this episode made her look like someone without common sense.

At first I thought that the writers didn’t know how to create multi-layered characters, but then I remembered Caitlin Snow. Like the female characters in Arrow, Caitlin experiences tragedy every time her life is starting to get better. However, she responds like a badass and doesn’t let life destroy her psyche. It’s not that Caitlin is a overly happy character either. Her mood changes like a normal human’s would, but she doesn’t use it as a crutch during pivotal moments. In fact, Caitlin has taken control in stressful situations and displayed a tenacity not normally seen.

Look, I understand that this article is one big complaint, but I swear it’s written with the shows’ best interests at heart. You can have all of the serious storylines that you want but let the female characters have a happy moment and be more than a character that constantly complains or fulfills a negative stereotype. Oliver Queen and John Diggle are both very serious characters, but even they get happy moments where they can joke around. I can’t think of a single moment in the last four seasons where Laurel cracked a joke or had a nice moment with her family. Thea has had a couple positive moments, but most of her time has been spent in arguments with Roy and Malcolm.

What do you think? Am I overreacting about the drama, or would you like to see some well-rounded female characters?


About the Author

John Newby
John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.

  • Rose Griffes

    What do I think? I think it is UNREAL that there’s a whole article about how the women need to smile more. The misogyny is strong with this one…

    • tdaniels1

      My thoughts exactly.
      Not smiling is hardly a good argument for the fact that the CW hates women characters.
      Weak plot lines, no character development, and using them as arm candy only, those would be better.

      • Rose Griffes

        Gah, yes. I like The Flash a lot; that doesn’t make me blind to the writing flaws for the women on the show. I never finished season one of Arrow, in part because they didn’t do enough with Laurel. (And partly because I’m not fond enough of Oliver Queen.) Both Candice Patton and Katie Cassidy do fantastic work with what they’re given, but it could be so much better.

        But sure, let’s talk about how they don’t smile enough. *sigh*