I started watching Arrow for Stephen Amell, I won’t deny that. Netflix and The CW made it easy for me, because the first season poster still makes me pause, to this day. One look at that gorgeous man, and I had to click on the show, even if just for the eye candy.
Of course, there’s also the fact that I grew up on comics. Not on DC, not really. It was mostly Marvel, with some Batman thrown in, but comics were still something I felt very comfortable relating to.
A show based on the Green Arrow comics, some people decried…it will never work!
Me? I wanted it all.
I think my innocence in regard to this particular comic lore worked to my advantage. My only memory of the Green Arrow was as the occasional boyfriend of the Black Canary, and my only memory of the Black Canary was tied to Birds of Prey. I had some expectations, yes, but I wasn’t married to the source material.
Good thing, too, because though I started watching this show for Stephen Amell, I continued watching it for Emily Bett Rickards. Or, more to the point, for Felicity Smoak.
TV, movies, and especially comics are filled with bad-ass ladies. They are smart, strong, kick-ass, and perfect role models for girls and boys alike. And yet, most of them are also, very …well, unattainable.
In real life, what are the odds we’re ever going to don a leather outfit and look good in it, much less fight crime? What are the odds of us knowing some ancient form of combat and/or being able to take three grown men all on our lonesome? What are the odds we develop superpowers?
I’m going to go with slim to none.
However, some of us are good with a computer. Not Felicity-like good, but still.
Some of us wear glasses. Some of us happen to have a thing for colorful dresses. Some really, really want to save the world.
Yes, some of us – most of us, I’d say, are Felicity Smoak. Or a version of her. And we’re damn proud of it.
Arrow might not have known this when it introduced our bad-ass hacker lady, but they still did her right. She was, after all, the voice of the audience for most of the first season, pointing out the absurd, ogling Oliver and making our broody hero sorta-smile.
Not only that, though, Felicity was relatable. She didn’t exercise or wear leather, she often spoke too much and out of turn, and she solved problems with her brain, not her muscles.
Which is pretty much what we’d attempt to do if faced with the same circumstances.
But, this doesn’t mean Arrow made Felicity a damsel in distress, no. They made her a strong character, a different one. One who had opinions and ideas, one who messed up, got angry, got sad, told jokes.
One who could save the day just as well as the rest of the team. Just as long as no one asked her to use her fists to do so.
Arrow also did something with Felicity that very few shows have done with their female characters – they made her not just good at what she does, but the best. They allowed her to live in the superlative. They didn’t just make her a hacker, they made her the hacker.
They also made her fall in love with the titular hero (and who can blame her?), but didn’t make her the stereotype of a strong woman who loses herself when she finds love, no. She was in love with Oliver, yes, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t stand her ground in Season 3.
It didn’t mean that she couldn’t say enough is enough and look elsewhere when he walked away from her. It didn’t mean she had to wait for him to want her.
And it specially didn’t mean that she had to take his lies and just put up with him because he was a hero. That’s not how Felicity Smoak works.
That’s not how any of us would work in real life.
If your fiancé keeps a child secret from you, you break up with him. If you have a friend whose fiancé did that, you tell her to break up with him. And that’s exactly what Felicity did.
Did she struggle with it? Yes.
Did she handle it the right way? Probably not.
But that’s okay, because we wouldn’t either. We’d also be a mess of insecurities and doubts. We’d stumble, backtrack and probably say the wrong things.
That’s normal. Felicity’s normal.
And we understand Felicity. We understand Arrow .
That’s why we watch.
In the end, Felicity Smoak might not be your favorite. She doesn’t have to be. But it’s hard to deny that, comics or not, Arrow has made her a real, relatable and extraordinary character — one that many young girls out there would be proud to emulate.
One that doesn’t need to wear a mask to be a hero.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Maybe the answer is Felicity Smoak. Why not? In this superhero heavy era, Felicity is just more proof that heroes come in many shapes and forms. And that means anyone can be one.
Arrow returns to The CW on October 5th.