Iris West. In the comics, she’s the wife of Barry Allen, aunt of Wally West, and grandmother of Bart Allen. Basically, Iris is entwined with just about every incarnation of The Flash. So it’s only natural that they would import her in the latest reiteration of The Flash, the hit CW TV series. In this version, she’s a fledgling reporter and the love of Barry Allen’s life.
It’s interesting how such a prominent character in The Flash canon could receive so much hate. But then, the Iris on the TV series is Black. Now I’m don’t want to jump to conclusions, but the hate started even before the show started airing. As soon as the casting was released, Iris and the actor who plays her, Candice Patton, started receiving hate.
I don’t think it’s the fact that Iris is Black, but that she’s Black and the beloved Barry is fawning all over her. The vitriol that Iris (and Candice) receives on social media is vomit-inducing. Then there are those fans who don’t want to be seen as potentially racist and pretend to care about the wellbeing of Iris. They’ll make up excuses like how Barry isn’t good enough for Iris or how Iris should be independent and single. Now, I’m a proponent of leading ladies being single on TV, but Iris West is a canon love interest. And this whole independent thing seems to apply more to Black women (see Abbie Mills in Sleepy Hollow) than their counterparts.
Some fans are so anti-Iris, they cling to the nearest white woman, Caitlin Snow. There’s a whole fandom dedicated to Barry and Caitlin being together: SnowBarry. I have nothing against Caitlin, but I don’t see it for her and Barry. Caitlin is kinda boring. She has her own love interest. There’s no romantic chemistry between the two of them. And if the comics are any indication, she has a dark path ahead.
I know it seems like Iris can be very annoying at times, but that’s mostly because we usually only see her through the other characters’ lenses. Every other main character is hiding something from her, so her trying to find out what that is puts her in an antagonistic position in relation to them. That’s why I like the scenes where she’s at the newspaper. She’s away from the other main characters, and we get to see her shine, unburdened from the secrets they keep from her. We need more of those scenes.
However you feel about Iris, you got to admit Candice is killing it. I don’t know if there’s any other actor in her age range of any race who could do as good a job as she has. There are many who think Danielle Panabaker should’ve been Iris, but naw. She’s barely pulling off Caitlin. Candice takes what little the writers give her and knocks it out of the park. Like when Barry confesses her love to Iris, she manages to steal the scene without even saying a word. So hate her if you want, but she’s killing the game.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.