Sometimes there are characters the audience simply doesn’t like. Shows try to fix them, but as well as some characters have a huge following, others have a huge portion of the audience that doesn’t and decides to be very vocal about it. Recently, it happened with Laurel in ‘Arrow’, it happened with Katrina on ‘Sleepy Hollow’, and lately (although admittedly, it seems not that widespread) the latest victim has been Iris West, from ‘The Flash’. I have spoken about Katrina before, and while I was never the biggest fan of Laurel, it seems ‘Arrow’ is taking a step forward in her development that I am welcoming with open arms.
However, I am 100% sure Iris West is the woman the audience should be rooting for and I am completely dumbfounded that for many people, this is not the case.
Here you will find the reasons why part of the audience doesn’t like Iris, as well as an argument against them and an acknowledgment of the current problems regarding Iris’ characterization.
Note, there are spoilers for episode 1×14 of ‘The Flash’, ‘Fallout’
Iris doesn’t want Barry, but tries to sabotage him
When Barry confessed his feelings to Iris in the midseason finale, it was obvious she didn’t expect it. She had always seen Barry as a brotherly(ish) figure, which is easy to understand, considering they grew up together, under the same roof. These are not two people who just met each other and are friendly. These two people shared a house, her dad treated him like a son, and it is not far-fetched to think Iris would see him as family, because that’s just how it was.
However, part of the audience seems to think she was supposed to immediately leave the relationship she had with Eddie the moment Barry confessed he was in love with her and jumped into his arms.
Iris never owed Barry anything. She simply didn’t know that he saw her like that. Was she oblivious? Yes. Does that make her a bad person? No. What would make her a bad person is to leave Eddie just as they are about to move together because of the confession of someone who, the moment he confessed, she hadn’t thought of as more than a friend.
The thing is, she might not even see Barry as just a friend or a brother figure anymore. Because they have now had enough time apart not to behave like family. Feelings change with separation and his support and his friendship mean the world to her. Maybe now that she knows how he feels she can be able to see him as more than that. It’s obvious, seeing her reaction as he kisses Linda, that she is starting to (or maybe she has all along, but never really understood.)
But of course, the show hasn’t been doing her any favors by having Barry saying things like “it feels like you don’t want to be with me but you don’t want anyone else to be with me me either” after she told Linda– who had asked her quite directly what was up with Barry– she should give him some time.
Let’s all remember here, Iris doesn’t know Barry is The Flash, thus why she associated his inability to commit to Linda to his unrequited feelings toward her. She was not being malicious. She was being sincere. She wanted Linda to give Barry time grow into the relationship.
To the audience, she was being petty and jealous, because the show is giving us nothing but Barry’s POV, and Barry is behaving like a fedora-wearing overemotional child.
She is too nosy
When Iris started writing her own blog about ‘The Streak’, she did so to prove to Barry that what he thought happened to his mother was real. That he was not crazy, that impossible things were possible, and that he could eventually get closure about his mother’s murder. Barry actively lied to her about who he was and told her he had moved on, but here is the thing with knowing someone for your entire life: you know when they are lying to you. Iris knew Barry was not being sincere and she continued investigating into The Flash, regardless of the danger she could be in because she wanted to help Barry.
Now she’s taken blogging a step further and is a reporter for Central City Picture News. Whose job is to investigate.
But to some people, she’s nosy.
With Iris’s choice to finally delve into what Wells is hiding (under Mason’s supervision), so comes having to betray her friends. But is it really betrayal when no one is telling her the truth?
Everyone is choosing to leave Iris out of what is going on with the metahumans, out of supposed concern for her well-being, but she is a reporter and she will eventually have to get involved with things concerning them, so why not just tell he, so she can protect herself and what’s being told to the public? Iris isn’t weak. What makes her unable to take care of her own life?
Why is her choice to find out why the people around her are lying nosiness? Why is she considered nosy when Joe himself is conducting an investigation on Wells? Isn’t he doing his job? Isn’t Iris doing hers?
She is black
This the most unfortunate of all, and it is also the most difficult to prove, because people are really good at hiding it. Many people simply hate Iris West because she is not white. It is not hard to find people saying they just “irrationally dislike her” or that “she and Barry just don’t look right together”. This ranges from fans from the original comics who apparently cannot fathom racial diversity and fans of another character or ships different to Iris and Barry that would rather see the screentime given to the white characters in the show.
From the moment Candice Patton was announced as Iris West, she was told not to get on social media to read the comments, expecting the backlash from fans. And ever since, though more sneakily disguised, hundreds of comments with really racist connotations (and some of them pretty much straightforward) are sent toward her and other members of the cast both in Twitter and Facebook, where the show has the most following.
It is rather sad that things like this are still happening, and I am hoping we do not have to face another Sleepy Hollow situation. Because if I have to trend #IrisWestDeservesBetter a million times, I will.
Now, I am not going to say there are no problems regarding Iris’ characterization. One of the things about growing to love a character is that you want them to become better, and ‘The Flash’ has been having trouble establishing Iris outside of being Barry’s love interest while still making her someone likable enough we root for her to end up with him. It should be noted that I say “root for her” and not “someone worthy of ending up with Barry” because I think Iris is way out of Barry’s league and he would be, in fact, kind of a downgrade from Eddie, unless Eddie becomes a maniacal villain.
She is Joe’s daughter, but we barely see them having heartwarming moments. Barry has his father and Joe and two friends in Caitlin and Cisco, but Iris only has Joe and he seems to forget she even exists ever since she moved in with Eddie. Apparently leaving home was such a betrayal for Joe he even forgets she comes home to make dinner for him and asks her what is she doing there when she shows up. Joe is now getting more screentime with Cisco than with his own daughter (not to mention with Eddie) The show needs to fix this, because– now knowing Iris had the smallest room– it kind of feels like Joe favors Barry over her.
We also need to know what she is feeling regarding Barry’s confession. Painting her as jealous over Linda and then having Barry say she’s doing it out of selfishness (when we’ve seen her trying to hook him up with Felicity before) makes the audience immediately side with him, because Barry is the hero and he should be right, no? Well, no.
How does Iris feel? Are things with Eddie going well? Is Eddie suspicious? Why is she still wearing the ring Barry gave her? All of these things should have been answered in order for the audience to know that Iris feels the same way Barry feels about her. The fact that we are in episode 15 and this hasn’t happened yet is mindblowing.
Last but not least, she needs to be reinstated in her leading lady status. I am not against Caitlin Snow getting screentime. I like her, I think she is fun, she is smart and her story with Ronnie is interesting, but she is a supporting player in Barry’s life. Iris West is supposed to be the Lois Lane to Barry’s Superman, and to this date, all she is is background. Now that Iris is finally finding out what Wells might be hiding, it’s time for her to take agency over what she finds out and hold it from Mason until she comes to Barry asking for an explanation. And it’s time for Barry to confess and finally let her in to the story. She is not just the love of his life, she’s his equal, and should be treated as such.
So, readers, do you love Iris West? Do you dislike her? (If you dare saying you hate her, please leave.) What would you like to see from her? Let me know in the comments below.