Author Topic: Black Showrunner on "The Flash", and Iris West's Portrayal  (Read 400 times)

Offline Hypestyle

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Black Showrunner on "The Flash", and Iris West's Portrayal
« on: February 18, 2020, 06:33:10 pm »
Candice Patton knew from the start that her casting in The Flash was going to get people talking. And she was right; when The CW announced that Patton, a black actress, would play Iris West, who is canonically white and red-headed in the comics that inspired the TV show, the news was celebrated by fans of color and attacked by online trolls.

"I knew how important it was going to be for a lot of young girls who looked like me," Patton explained. "I knew it was different, I knew it was gonna be maybe a little bit controversial for some people, but I [also] knew it had the potential to be a conversation-starter and something really important."

What Patton didn't know was that it would take over five years before the show would begin to acknowledge her race.

The Rise of Black Superheroes: A Black History Month Celebration

Before Season 6, the show took a colorblind approach to its depiction of Patton's character, Iris and by extension, Iris' family painting her as a journalist, a love interest, and a daughter, but never embracing her identity as a black woman. In fact, Iris and her police detective father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), could have been any race. And Iris mainly served as Barry Allen's (Grant Gustin) sidekick and "lightning rod," championing him from the sidelines while he saved the world on a weekly basis. As the seasons progressed, so did her character development and her relationship with Barry. However, Iris' blackness was never really acknowledged by the show or its characters, a glaring omission for fans who'd connected with the show's black female lead.

But then, something changed in Season 6: The Flash hired its first black showrunner.

When Todd Helbing stepped down from his post to focus on other projects in 2019, Eric Wallace, who'd served as an executive producer since Season 4, took the reins and reevaluated areas that weren't given enough attention. One that stood out to him like a neon sign was the way in which Iris and her family's race was ignored. Wallace understood who the Wests were as an African American family and didn't shy away from that. Season 6 opened on a cookout, a staple within the black community, which featured recognizable dishes like creamed corn, candied yams, and collard greens. The scene stood in stark contrast to previous seasons, which raised eyebrows with dishes like Grandma Esther's ambiguous noodle recipe, a dish that seemed inauthentic and unlikely to have been passed down through a black family.
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Offline Emperorjones

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Re: Black Showrunner on "The Flash", and Iris West's Portrayal
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2020, 11:17:46 am »
Thanks for putting this out there. I knew that Wallace was working on the series, but I didn't know he was influencing it like that. It sounds good. I had fallen off from checking out Flash, but I might have to check back in. One of my issues from jump with the series was that for Barry to be raised by a black family there wasn't a lot of black cultural/pop cultural things in the series. The closest they got was one time playing "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars. I am glad that Wallace is weaving more black cultural aspects in the series. This more along the lines of true diversity to me, not just putting black actors in white roles and patting yourself on the back, but actually infusing black culture and experiences into the characters and the stories.

One thing I did always like from jump, to be fair to the series, is the depiction of Joe. He's the emotional heart of the series in many ways and he was always portrayed as a loving father and wise mentor. Though they went the drug-addict ex-wife route, they still rebounded with him and his new wife, and all along he's had a great relationship with Iris and Barry and a solid enough one with Wally, though they could do more there. 
« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 11:20:20 am by Emperorjones »