I didn’t know who Ruby Rose was when she was cast as the main lead in Batwoman. She didn’t seem to have the physicality for the role (too thin) and was covered with weird, grotesque tattoos, but I thought, “Eh, I’ve been wrong before in casting choices,” so I was content to see how it played out.
Not that great in my opinion. I realize official fan reaction was enthusiastic; with “official fan” being defined as the editorial guidance of nerd fan sites. Greg Berlanti, the father of the CW Arrowverse and gay himself, specifically was looking for an LGBT actress to play the role. Unfortunately that narrows down the choices available, so I imagine that’s how he ended up with Ruby Rose.
The show itself was so gay that Will & Grace looked straight by comparison. Almost every subplot was gay related. Kate Kane gets kicked out of military school after being caught in flagrante delicto with her girlfriend, comes back to Gotham years later after training herself up to Bat-standards, runs into her old girlfriend who’s now married to a guy, and proceeds to try to break up her marriage and get her back. She successfully breaks up her girlfriend’s marriage (but doesn’t get her back), starts a gay bar, romances several other girls, listens to Rachel Maddow… it’s just one rainbow flag after another.
Oh and also fights crime.
Now imagine if there was a show about a Bat crime fighter, only instead of a proud and out lesbian, it’s a straight man (I know, crazy right? But just pretend for a minute). This “Bat-Man” tracks down an old flame, tries to break up her marriage, and continually stalks her throughout the season, all the while developing a side business of a hook up bar and listening to Manosphere podcasts.
He would be a Bat-creep right? But it’s different when she does it…
So with the conclusion of Season 1, Ruby Rose abruptly quits the show for reasons, and Warner Brothers thanks her for service and immediately vow to recast the character:
“…look forward to sharing its new direction, including the casting of a new lead actress and member of the LGBTQ community, in the coming months.”
So they are vowing to repeat their dumb mistake, and limit their choices once again. Although… I admit I might really look forward to Ellen Degeneres as Batwoman, but it doesn’t seem like the producers would find that as funny as I would. Hopefully Rue Paul is still in the running… I don’t think the record on recasting the lead character on television shows is a particularly good one, but this seems to be an ideological imperative.
So I’m very much in the minority on this, but I regard Batwoman Season 1 as a failed experiment. I wouldn’t recommend recasting your lead and doubling down on the same mistake. If it were me, I would:
- Have another character take on the Batwoman mantle.
- Turn the show into a more ensemble show of a team of many Bat-related characters.
Obviously the producers are not going to do that since it would be an admission that season one was in fact a failed experiment, but in both scenarios, there is a rather large Bat-family of characters to draw on, including one already on the show, Camrus Johnson plays Batwoman’s man Friday Luke Fox, who in the comics becomes Batwing. Both options allow for a long term “whatever happened to Kate Kane?” storyline. And of course, the show should keep the villain ‘Alice’, played by Rachel Skarsten. Skarsten’s performance as the crazed Alice was one of the few highlights of the season.
Whatever they decide, we won’t see the finished product until 2021, so they have plenty of time to tweak the concept (which they won’t). It seems like a lot of trouble to save a show that last saw over a million viewers during the Crisis crossover. But I suppose sometimes it’s about making a statement, even if the statement is a dumb one.