I’m Selina, Awards Circuit’s queer Girl Friday for everything LGBTQIA+ on TV! We finally have our Batwoman, folx: Ruby Rose (“Orange is the New Black”) has been tapped to play the lesbian Gotham superhero in The CW’s ever-expanding Arrowverse. Rose’s former costars and other LGBTQIA+ actors have been congratulating Rose on social media since the reveal. According to USA Today, Rose has received props from Laverne Cox, Janelle Monae, Anna Kendrick, Aimee Garcia, Indya Moore, and Trace Lysette since Deadline revealed the casting. Rose also put out a statement on Instagram, gushing about the news. And then fans on Twitter started to heavily debate the casting and ruin everyone’s week. Here’s all the tea about the controversy, and why adult fans opinions about the casting don’t actually matter.
According to NME, some queer fans are up in arms about the casting because, apparently, casting That One Lesbian Actress is lazy casting. Those folx have called for an unknown actress to be cast, giving Hollywood another queer voice to rep the community. And in a perfect world, yeah, great. But a network won’t cast an unknown actress to take a leading role on a highly anticipated show, because only diehard Batwoman fans would tune in to watch it. Be mad about it, but ratings and viewership is important, and part of clinching that is attaching a known actor to the role. Rose has name recognition in spades, and that’s worth its weight in gold– and greenlights.
Others are concerned that Batwoman/Kate Kane’s Jewish identity will be stripped from the Batwoman narrative, a valid concern that points out a lack of Jewish representation on screen. After all, showrunner Caroline Dries said from the get-go that she would be hiring a lesbian actress to play the canonically queer Kate. Perhaps the same casting considerations should have been taken for Kate’s religious beliefs. I’m not Jewish, so I can’t really speak to this, but I can only hope that Kate’s Jewish roots won’t be glossed over in the Arrowverse. #KeepKateJewish trending is making its way around Twitter, which will hopefully inform Dries and the other “Batwoman” writers moving forward.
And then there’s the, uh, less than kind complaint from fans: Rose’s acting chops aren’t exactly the best in the biz. The actress is known for playing the Hot Queer Bad Girl in every single project, with no real range to her roles. But I’d argue that this is more of a norm than fans remember. Comic-book content over the past few years has admittedly reaped the talents of dramatic actors who wanted to play the superhero (see “The Dark Knight” trilogy and the vast majority of the MCU). It makes sense that some fans were expecting a big name to play the complex Kate Kane, a depressed, alcoholic lesbian military vet (wow is that a mouthful) who’s gonna have a rough go of it in Gotham, the most depressing city of all time. And sure, maybe Rose won’t tear your heart out with her dramatic delivery.
But why are we expecting the absolute most from the Batwoman casting: an unknown, young Jewish lesbian actress with wide-ranging acting props who can also pull enough viewers for the series to survive Season 1? And where, exactly, are we supposed to find her in the six months before the December crossover? Fan expectations are through the stratosphere, but all their wishes can’t simultaneously be fulfilled. Adjust your expectations, folx.
Besides, if you’re complaining that a superhero series won’t play like new-age Shakespeare, you’ve forgotten the cheap, pulp-fiction origins of comic-book superheroes in the first place. The Arrowverse has never been high art, and it’s not supposed to be. Superhero stories are meant to entertain and inspire those who need someone to look up to; the action sequences wake up a boring weeknight, but the real impact resonants for the younger, more vulnerable generation. Ruby Rose doesn’t have to be the next Geena Davis to honor Kate Kane, the defender of Gotham City. But she does need to show, both on the series and off, is that being out, proud and awesome is a real-life possibility. If the Batwoman series does get a greenlight (TBD after the December crossover), she will be the first LGBTQIA+ lead character (and lead actress) on a superhero TV series. The world will have a real-life, genderfluid lesbian role model, and Rose is experienced enough to carry that rainbow mantle and do some passable crimefighting while she’s at it. (She did manage to fight her way through “Resident Evil” and “John Wick: Chapter 2.”)
The “controversy,” if it ever really started, was effectively shut down by Rose in a tearful Thursday night interview with Jimmy Fallon. Watch it below.
Rose will play the perfect Batwoman because she gets why Batwoman is important in the first place. The awkward kid who wore cardboard bat wings everywhere she went will treat Kate Kane’s character with respect and nerdy awe, and if Kate Kane could talk, she would be cheering her on. Batwoman wouldn’t give a s*%# about angry adults on Twitter, and neither should you.