Lately, I’ve grown so tired of watching male “chosen ones” and “jerks with the heart of gold” save the day and get the girl. Representation matters, and girls want to be chosen ones too, and not just princesses in distress. Women are allowed to hate the world and be brilliant while reluctantly saving the day. And we should be able to see ourselves, our stories, and our fantasies reflected on screen too. I’m always on the lookout for female characters subverting generally male character tropes, and today I would like to tell you about some of them and why they matter.
A few weeks ago, Arrow’s third season began with an incredibly shocking first episode. And now, four episodes later, all the characters are still dealing with the tragedy. This tragedy—a major character death—was completely unexpected. I didn’t mind what happened, despite how much I adored said character, but dealing with the death of a loved one seems to be a recurring trend with Laurel’s character. In the first season, she was still coming to terms with her sister’s death. In the second season, she turned to drugs and alcohol after Tommy died. And now, in the third season, she is using another death as an excuse to engage in some truly ableist behavior.
Spoilers for Arrow Season 3 up ahead.
It’s been something like six weeks since the final episode of Arrow’s Season 2 aired, and this is no longer remotely timely, but here, finally, is my review thereof. My review of the first half of Season 2 was pretty complimentary, and I stand by my opinion: the show has been doing way way better this season both from a writing and from a feminist perspective. There were definitely some ugly moments toward the end of the season, though. Let’s get right into it.
Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so.
—National Institute on Drug Abuse (x)
From Tony Stark’s alcoholism to Sherlock Holmes’s 7% solution, geek media is rife with portrayals of addiction and substance abuse. As someone who has watched close friends and family members struggle with real addiction, I have a very personal stake in these fictional portrayals. It means a lot to me if a show that includes an addict among its characters takes the time to treat addiction as the complex problem it is. And because of this, I am tremendously turned off by shows that act like an addiction is something that can easily be gotten rid of.
We haven’t spent much time talking about Arrow here. Okay, there was that once, but that was a review of the very first episode, so we’ve definitely got some lost time to make up.
I never really bothered to review the show during its first season because, well, I didn’t think it was much to write home about. Much like my decision to keep buying the Fearless Defenders comic, I tuned in weekly more out of a desire to give a hopeful, just-starting-out superhero show good ratings so that the CW would continue making superhero shows. (I was apparently successful, as they’re planning a Flash spinoff series. Dammit, CW, make a show about a lady superhero, not another white guy.) The writing was sort of terrible, the plots were sort of predictable, and at least half of Oliver’s manpain was based on the fridging of his illicit lady-love. The only character who had consistently decent dialogue for the entire first season was our hero’s go-to hacker Felicity Smoak, a queen among women.
Anyway, I’m glad I gave the so-so first season a shot, because the second season is pretty much kicking it in the ass. Spoilers below the jump.