Arrow is one of our shows…you know, the ones you and your partner watch together. It was my show originally. I watched the first season on Netflix, after catching a few episodes when it aired, on television. I’m not usually a fan of CW shows, but the acting, the chemistry between characters, and the overall anti-hero theme drew me in. I persuaded my girlfriend to watch the show, so we could be caught up to watch Season 2, as it aired.
Truthfully, I have loved every moment of the show. As a filmmaker, I occasionally find some of the dialogue problematic and hokey, but for the most part, I think the show is solid. You gotta give props to Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg for taking a comic book character few cared about and reimagining him with one of the most dynamic actors of our generation, Stephen Amell, bringing him to life. Amell is in high demand, has an iconic following, and the Green Arrow is now one of the coolest superheroes in DC’s lineup. That’s a pretty big feat given he’s in the company of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
In the first season, Oliver returns from the dead, to Starling City, and to the girlfriend he betrayed (with her sister, Sara, who is also presumed dead, as a result of the betrayal), Laurel Lance. Though Laurel is very angry at Oliver, the audience is meant to want them to reconcile, somehow. I have no doubt that this was the original plan for Oliver’s trajectory. What the writers could not anticipate was the amazing chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards.
Cast in a small, supporting role, the sexual tension sizzled between Bett Rickards, playing tech guru, Felicity Smoak, in a role that was not meant to last more than a few episodes, and Amell’s charmingly handsome, muscle toned, yet deeply haunted, Oliver Queen. We took notice, and so to did the writers, who quickly developed more and more interactions between Felicity and Oliver. By season two, Bett Rickards was a regular, and a central part of the Arrow team, working as the Arrow’s private tech support alongside Oliver and John Diggle. The chemistry never stopped, though, and last season, we achingly had to endure Oliver with a variety of other women including Laurel and Sara, who returned, apparently not dead, after all.
This season has promised us some romance between Oliver and Felicity, but my big worry is that the relationship will not be taken as seriously as it should. As someone who makes films, I could only dream of discovering that two of my actors shared even an nth of the chemistry Bett Rickards and Amell share, on screen. When this happens, where filmmakers find these unexpected moments of great chemistry, the writers should embrace them, and follow a trajectory that allows the relationship to flourish thanks to the chemistry shared between the actors.
The truth is, when actors share such a deep sense of chemistry all of the other relationships they are seemingly placed in, seem hollow. This was supremely evident when the writers attempted to match up Felicity with Barry Allen, the future Flash, who received his own spinoff show, which will air this fall. The whole time Felicity and Barry are together, her love for Oliver hangs as an awkward reminder of why she should not be with anyone else, but him.
I have seen this, at this intensity, once before. As a teenager, I watched the syndicated television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, and quickly fell in love with Renee O’Connor’s Gabrielle. Apparently, so did Xena, because, by season two, the show was running rampant with subtext, including sexual innuendos, and implications of the true nature of Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. Like Amell and Bett Rickards, Renee O’Connor and Lucy Lawless had a chemistry and, camaraderie that was off the charts. Unfortunately, fans were desperate to see the chemistry develop into something bigger and better, but in the 90s, Ellen had barley been out of the closet, so any lesbian lovefest, between the two was out of the question. Today, 20 years later, fans are still clamoring for Xena and Gabrielle to have the happy ending we all wanted for them, during the show.
While the writers for Xena toyed with fans, and the implications were often the only way they could offer up the Xena and Gabrielle love story, for many of us just coming into our own, the lack of a concrete, physical relationship was depressing. While all of the actors on the show say the two were a couple, it is too late to show that, unless they can get past a ton of red tape, and produce a Xena movie. It isn’t, however, too late for Olicity.
The writers of Arrow have an exceedingly rare opportunity to write a poignant love story and do this couple justice. It is my hope they do not squander it, and follow the lead of the actors and their chemistry, in order to paint a beautiful, more authentic progressively good relationship. With chemistry like theirs, it seems like the only way to go.