My take on ‘The Flash’

Superheroes are all the rage, and I, as much as the next person, am on this bandwagon and enjoying the ride!  So going off that, I moved away from the Marvel enterprise for a bit to see what DC Comics has to offer on TV these days.

I recently finished watching the first season of CW’s The Flash with my sister, and while we both immensely enjoyed it, there were many times I had to roll my eyes and groan and even want to quit watching it altogether.  In the end, I do recommend you give it a try all the way through because it keeps you on your toes and has enough humorous moments to brighten up your day, but go into it knowing that there is also an abundance of flaws to test your patience.

Firstly, there are plenty of cheesy lines, but what else can you expect from a channel that is geared toward the younger audience?  Also, it is of the superhero genre, so cheesiness comes hand-in-hand.  Secondly, things are usually resolved way too simply, but everything is relatively fast-paced so that isn’t too jolting, just a tinge disappointing near the end when you’re left thinking, “Oh, that’s it?”  Yes, that’s it.  But this is offset by the fact that there are still many deep things to think about, such as family, friends, trust, handling things your own way, and, the biggest headache-inducer ever, time travel. While not altogether unpredictable, there are also enough plot twists to keep you hooked as well as cute crossovers with Arrow that are integrated well enough so even if you haven’t watched that series yet (like me, although I plan to binge-watch that next), you’re kept in the loop.

The biggest qualm I had about the series was the characters.  As in, they were seriously flawed through poor writing and, at times, unbearable.  Barry Allen, aka ‘The Flash,’ gives off an endearingly adorkable Peter Parker vibe, but here’s the thing–he’s a 25-year-old man with the problems of a hormonal teenager.  Peter Park transformed into the spunky Spiderman at 15 years old; even though Barry Allen has ten years on the guy, he is as immature, emotionally driven, naive, and pathetically chin-deep in puppy love.  I can’t take him seriously as an adult–I keep thinking he’s maybe recently out of high school at the very least.  Still, he is lovable in his own way–I just get very tired of him sometimes, especially when Iris is involved, which brings me to the next character: Iris.

When her mentor at the publication told her that this was “not a chick-lit novel,” and her “spunk, grit, and gumption” were not enough to place her in this workplace (and in my opinion, in this superhero universe whatsoever), I was cheering him on.  She is a discount Lois Lane; she is the Lana Lang everyone wants to see go away so Lois Lane can come in and kick some butt.  While Lois Lane works hard to get to where she is in a male-dominated industry by being good at her job, being smart at her job, and being as tough as nails, Iris West gets everything handed to her.  Her father pampers her, Barry idolizes her, and Eddie falls head-over-heels for her in an instant, so when she acts like she’s strong, I’m not convinced because all I see is someone who’s had it easy all her life.

She works on a blog solely about the streak sightings, and then she’s given a job at a prestigious publication.  She complained multiple times about her disinterest in journalism.  When did she even graduate from the program?  In no way do I blame her two-time Pulitzer-winning mentor for questioning her abilities, and she never actually showcases her abilities to prove her worth and get onto her mentor’s good side, yet that somehow happens at some point, making me feel like I missed something.  Was it when she gets to ask a question to Dr. Wells because he pinpoints her out because he knows who she is and wants to help her out as a friend?  Again a case of special treatment for Iris West.

And her response of “gumption” made me cringe.  What gumption?  Gumption would be pushing herself forward and earning the attention of Dr. Wells, not being given a chance to stand out because of the connection he felt toward her as an acquaintance.  We never see her overcome anything or develop as a character.  In fact, I’m left rolling my eyes at her because as the lead female protagonist, she should be instilling a feeling of empowerment in the women who watch the show.  Instead, she makes them want to pull their hair out in frustration at her insistence that she’s strong and unwarranted self-righteousness when she’s only proven time and again that she has poor observational skills, lives in a protective bubble, and plays at the heartstrings of the two men vying for her attention.  Once she loses the attention of Barry, which she’s used to and has taken for granted all her life, she begins to want that attention back, which is a poor and stereotypical representation of women.  I’m not convinced she actually has romantic feelings for him.  However, I did begin to side with her more later when she found out about The Flash’s identity because, for once, she was feeling righteous anger.  I’d like to see more of those complex emotions in the next season.

Going back to the point of her “romance” with Barry, is romance even really necessary? Every story could use a bit of romance, sure, but in this case, such a desperate attempt to force in a love line is a distraction to the more important story arcs and character development.  What’s worse is that there’s no chemistry between Iris and Barry–even the chemistry between Caitlyn and Ronnie seems forced at times.  The best love line for me might be Dr. Stein and Clarissa.  Or even Snart and his cold gun.

Moving on, my next biggest qualm, hands down, has to be the ridiculous season finale which made no pragmatic sense whatsoever.  Oh, okay, Barry gets the chance to go back in time to save his mother!  Yea… but with the risk of turning into dust and unleashing a black hole that will undoubtedly kill everyone in the planet, which is billions of people… but in this case, he’s told to think about himself for once.  Many times he thought of maybe a handful of other people before himself, but this time, go ahead and gamble billions of lives to maybe be able to save your mother (which should have been near impossible given the circumstances).  Barry takes the risk, goes, and then decides, “Nah, not gonna save her,” and what happens is Eddie has to kill himself and the black hole indeed forms and causes mass destruction as predicted.  Even if he manages to stop it in the next season (which of course he will), it would have already taken thousands of lives, which in no way makes up for maybe the hundreds he had saved thus far.

In conclusion, he risked billions of human lives, definitely killed thousands, and bereaved Iris her beloved fiancé to not save his mother or actually do anything whatsoever. Good job.

Either way, I will probably start the second season soon if I can and I hope that it’ll be better!

–Annie

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