So, there is a new day in comic tv adaptations. Well, maybe not new. This is more of a day of remembrance. Remembering what makes a comic, a comic. That thing is called joy. The overwhelming success of The Flash TV series has proven a fact about the viewing public that I have always thought was true—We are still idealists. It has been well recorded that the Flash TV show is the most successful show that CW has seen since its inception. The last count puts the freshman venture at 6.8 million viewers; a strong debut for a show about a guy in red tights. The recent big Season Finale highlighted what “the Flash-heads” (not a real expression, but I’m trying to make it one) love about the series. The show is always hopeful.
The Flash strips bare the comic tv adaptation down to its essentials. There’s no brooding, dark inner workings. There’s no secret nihilistic post-apocalyptic anti-American sentiment. There’s no trying be a dystopian manifesto. It’s just fun.
The Flash is the least likely to be revolutionary. The Flash has been sort of the star of the junior league (at least in the public mind.) The triumverate of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman has held the public imagination for such a long time. At first glance, he doesn’t seem that heroic, more of a glorified track star. Gustin’s nuanced performance has erased his junior league status. I’ve never really thought that much of the Flash. I even remember being vehemently opposed to the 90s tv show. But comic book adaptations are en vogue so the time was ripe.
Even with all this love for the comic adaptation, this show could have been really bad. But the show is not average, it is actually really good. There are several things that make this show a special one:
It has not forgotten that it is comic book. They got it right. It feels like a comic book. No disrespect to Gotham or Agents of Shield, or even Arrow. There is an earnestness to Barry Allen and the people of Central City. The show is modern, but hearkens back to a Golden Age America. There is a “golly gee,” dare I say wholesomeness to Barry Allen. There is actually a moral compass to our hero. Our hero is unabashedly good. Let’s face it, our superheroes are glorified boy scouts. They are an ideal. I’m tired of angst-ridden despondent, mopey heroes. It’s a pleasure to see a shy young man grow and step into the shoes of a hero. He’s not a billionaire playboy or a god from another planet. He’s an average guy who is responding to an enormous gift.
It is diverse without screaming, “Hey, congratulate us, we are diverse.” The coolest aspect about this show is we’ve become so engrossed with these characters that the larger social implications are peripheral.The idea of Cisco Roman becoming the action hero Vibe is exciting and ground-breaking, but the greatest part of that is that his ethnicity doesn’t too much matter on the show. It’s tangential, background music. But in a societal context, an Hispanic Superhero has such awesome implications for young Latinos and a larger audience. This subtle advancement helps to redefine the narrow limitations of who is an American hero. Another incidentally ground-breaking aspect is the West/Allen family. These two families are interwoven by tragedy and circumstance. Many shows attempt to have interwoven black and white casts, but they often feel forced and disingenuous, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any television show with a Black adoptive father and a White son. Essentially, Barry Allen is Arnold Drummond in reverse without the cheesy catchphrases. Their kinship and bond seems so palpable that it grounds the show in the most basic humanity. The personal lives of many African Americans and Caucasians are so far removed, but this dynamic flows naturally. It’s not an idealized version of diversity. So the idea of Barry and Iris having a love affair doesn’t seem like some grand political statement, but a guy falling for the girl next door.
The suspense actually feels like suspense. I’m not normally a loyal viewer. There aren’t many shows that hold my interest from week to week, but the serialized gotcha surprises have made this entire season enjoyable to watch. For those who know the mythology of the Flash comics, watching them weave together all these complex storylines has been an extreme pleasure. I’ve had so many loud gasping “Oh, snap” moments through this year from finding out Dr. Wells was the Reverse Flash to Cisco being stabbed in the heart to Barry traveling back in time. When you can’t even remember the “Oh, snap” moment from the midseason finale, you’ve written a good show.
If you haven’t watched this season, watch on Hulu and pick it up next season. I guarantee you will love it. I even have my wife watching it, and she hates action adventure.
Some FUN MOMENTS OF SEASON 1:
FLASH V. THE REVERSE FLASH