The Season Premiere of the Flash opened this evening and I wondered why I had a feeling of: Meh.
I have watched it from the beginning and despite the fact the channel which produced it was known for making mostly romance-related shows like Dawson’s Creek, it managed to work itself into the superhero-genre pretty well by working the ensemble cast, tantalizing love interests and superhero battles which last only 3 minutes because they take place at superspeed.
It’s funny. It’s complicated. But not too complicated. Unless you hate time travel stories. Or parallel worlds. Then you are fresh out of luck. Despite all of these issues, the Flash has become as popular (if not more so) than the show that spawned it: Arrow.
But if you watched Luke Cage this weekend, and let’s face it, who didn’t? If you did, your anticipation of seeing the Flash was just not that interesting.
Why? I mean the Flash is dealing with one of the most important storylines of the DC Universe, the Flashpoint saga. There are only a few other stories in the entirety of the DC Universe with equal cachet. This is the storyline (or a parallel version of it) which will probably alter the movie DCEU (oh god, we can hope) for the better.
If you found yourself unmoved by the Flash, especially after Luke Cage, and you are a Person of Color, please do not be alarmed.
Nothing is as good as getting your drug, in this case, the action-adventure superheroing sends straight past the blood-brain barrier into your neocortex. Superheroing is a high and often as a geek you are enjoying your high on multiple levels: Looking for Easter Eggs, checking out costume design, comparing current stories in the comics for nods to the television show. You do this. I know you do.
But something is wrong. You can feel free to blame Netflix. And Disney. Oh, and don’t forget Marvel. Because they have altered your cerebral landscape, giving you something you haven’t had much of in your life.
13 hours of pure representation-based bliss.
You have experienced a serial story, in which you could enjoy the entirety of the story at the pace you set, without commercial interruption. By itself, streaming has altered the television view audience, forever. Alas, it’s not the only thing happening here.
You have also had an infusion of inclusion, of pure representation which has made very clear to you the nature of the problem with modern American media. A problem you have stared at your entire life and pushed to the back of your consciousness, lest you throw your television out the window every week for lack of it.
A problem which has likely never been resolved for you for 13 hours in a row.
You are awake. Your mind is aware. Your sense of representation has been stimulated; maybe even satisfied for the first time in your media-absorbing life.
Of course the Flash wouldn’t be enough.
It’s issues are shallow. Its characterizations have little depth. Its people of color have been muted, made safe, not too aggressive, not too forward, not to action-oriented. Most importantly, not too sure of themselves.
You have been reminded of your place in the natural order of things again. Being not so subtly reminded to make certain the White-cisgendered hero can provide you with the the world-saving through his naturally superior perspective. Dawson’s Streak continues.
After Luke Cage, your mind is rebelling against this repressive way of thinking. Why couldn’t Wally West save the day? It’s not that kind of media, remember?
Here is your blue pill. The memories will fade. Welcome back to the Matrix.
Forbes can catch you up on the Flashpoint story if you’re really interested. I may care again next week.
The Answer-Man’s Archives are a collection of my articles discussing superheroes and their powers in relationship to their respective universes. We deconstruct characters, memes, profiles and how superheroes relate to real world culture. You can find other Archives on Quora and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange or at The World According to Superheroes.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.