While Arrow is essentially Oliver Queen’s origin story from vigilante to Green Arrow, let’s get one thing straight: Arrow has never been just about Oliver Queen.
From the start we dove into the stories of Laurel Lance, Thea Queen, Tommy Merlyn, and more. While Oliver has and will always be the main character of this show – obviously – that has never stopped the show from exploring the characters that surround him on the show thus bringing us closer to them. Oliver is someone who is inspired by and relies on those people he cares most about, which is why we’ve explored who those characters are and their place in Oliver’s life.
Yet one of the things that has been brought forth from a segment of fans about Arrow’s fourth season is how Arrow has become the Felicity Smoak Show. While it was something to laugh about at first – “Felicity and Friends” is still a show I’d watch, just saying – the fact that people keep complaining that a character is actually being fleshed out is quite troubling. It’s something that has bothered me because there are people that forget that Felicity isn’t just a part of this show, but she’s a vital part of it.
From her inception on the show, Felicity was never someone who was dealt a lot of backstory for her character. She was always just there in the present providing words of wisdom and encouragement to Oliver and being a badass with a brain. But we never got to explore who Felicity Smoak was. Hell, it wasn’t until episode five of season three where we actually got the first legitimate backstory about Felicity, as we got a look into her college, hacker past. And that was the extent of that backstory for season three.
Forty-six episodes. That’s how long it took for us to finally get some proper backstory for a character that had grown as a significant part of the heart of Arrow. Do you see the problem here?
“Arrow has never been just about Oliver Queen.”
Yet there are some people that say how Felicity used to be their favorite character until the last couple of seasons. You mean the last couple of seasons where the show actually began to give her character backstory? Are you telling me that since Felicity went from cute sidekick to fleshed-out character with flaws and emotion – like every human being in the world – that she somehow became lesser? Do you see the problem here?
Of course one of the reasons that Felicity’s increased presence has been met with some disdain by a segment of the fandom is because of her romantic relationship with Oliver. There are some that complain that Olicity has “ruined” Arrow (prove it); some that complain that Arrow has become all about Felicity and Olicity (the show is called “Arrow” people); and some that just complain about Felicity because they can (really?).
But this is a problem that has arisen specifically with season four as she was cemented as the show’s new female lead. With this new status the show began to explore Felicity’s professional career at Palmer Tech, which helped introduce Curtis Holt to the show, as well as provide some much-needed assistance throughout the season.
But was Felicity the only one not named Oliver that got a significant storyline this season? Of course not. Diggle had his storyline with his brother; Thea had her storyline with Malcolm and that bloodlust; Laurel had her arc with Sara’s resurrection (and plenty of storylines in past seasons). But I haven’t see any complaining about those storylines.
“Felicity has earned this character exploration. It’s literally been seasons in the making.”
Sure, Felicity’s father was brought into the equation after he was teased two seasons ago. This is literally a storyline two years in the making, and people are complaining that Felicity’s father coming into the storyline – one where his presence makes sense – makes this all about her?
But let’s also take into account Felicity’s role in Oliver’s life. She has become the epic love of his life, which means that she’s damn important to his journey and this show in general. But she’s so much more than her romantic link to Oliver. Getting to explore who Felicity is; getting to see her character struggle; getting to see her fall and rise; getting to see why Oliver loves her as much as he does is something important to this story.
When Arrow first started out, the plan was for Laurel to be that epic love of Oliver’s life. But given the toxic history and the failed present-day romance, the producers realized along the way that there was a different avenue they wanted to explore. Then Felicity stepped into that role. In most superhero stories there are those epic loves that help guide our hero into becoming super. Felicity is that epic love for Oliver. So of course we’re going to start seeing more storylines involving her.
“I don’t watch for Felicity,” some have said. Well then, maybe you should stop watching Arrow because Felicity is a central part of the show, just like the rest of the team with Oliver, Diggle, Thea, and Quentin. They all make Arrow what it is today.
“Can we get back to the Green Arrow show?” some have asked. Because this season hasn’t been about Oliver Queen at all. We haven’t seen him go from being a hero in the shadows to one in the light; we haven’t seen him struggle with hardships that he came back from; we haven’t seen him embrace the light; we haven’t seen him become stronger because of everything he experienced this season.
If you’re going to try and say that Arrow isn’t about Oliver Queen anymore then you need to check yourself. Don’t act like this is something new. Arrow has always been about exploring not only Oliver but the people in his life. That’s part of his story.
Here’s the thing: if you don’t like a show, don’t watch it. It’s really as simple as that.
Because while you might not enjoy Felicity’s story on Arrow, there are plenty of people that do. As fans we’re not always going to be satisfied. There are certain storylines that I’ve watched play out on Arrow throughout the years that have rubbed the wrong way, but I watched them because it’s part of the show. Sure, I might not enjoy certain storylines but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ruining the show. It’s just my opinion. I’m just one voice out of millions.
“Arrow has always been about exploring not only Oliver but the people in his life. That’s part of his story.”
We all love Arrow for a central reason, and those reasons vary. Maybe you love Arrow because of the Green Arrow origin story or Olicity or Team Arrow or shirtless Stephen Amell (who doesn’t love that?!) – but the thing is we all have our own reasons for loving Arrow. And Felicity is that reason for a great number of fans.
But the fact that there are complaints about a lead character being fleshed out – after two seasons of being denied that agency – just baffles me. Felicity has earned this character exploration. It’s literally been seasons in the making.
Just because Felicity gets significant storylines outside of her romance with Oliver doesn’t mean she’s taken over the show. This has always been and will always be Oliver Queen’s show. But Oliver has never been alone in this now four-season journey.
Can we all remember that Arrow isn’t just about Oliver Queen? That just because a character that isn’t named Oliver gets a focus doesn’t make Arrow any less than what it is? Arrow is still Arrow. And that’s never going to change.