ByDarth TARDIS., writer at Creators.co
Some Australian guy who loves superheroes, particularly DC- covering the DCEU, Arrow and Flash mainly, and more! https://twitter.com/darthta
Darth TARDIS.

I realise this article is probably quite exclusive to those who watch [Arrow](series:720988), and I do not expect many people to read it unless they watch the show. But what I do hope is that those who watch the show will read this and educate themselves, and with any luck I can reinforce or sway your convictions, dependent on what they are. If 10 people read this who watch the show and I alter their opinions for the better, and they educate ten more, then I’ll be happy. For starters:

You are entitled to your own opinion. Everybody knows that. If you can justify a particular belief, you’re more than welcome to hold it in my eyes. However, if that opinion is based on no rational thought and is just a bandwagon, senseless opinion, then I suggest you change it. Holding an opinion which cannot be justified or is stupidly justified will present you as moronic and mindless. If you want to be viewed as something more than a sheep, base your opinions off of other’s, sure, but make sure you actually know why you hold that opinion.

Now, anyone who follows Arrow, or any of the cast members on social media, knows that the character of Laurel Lance, and indeed her actress Katie Cassidy, receives a lot of hatred from fans who enjoy bashing on her and suggesting she should die. Perhaps that’s not so bad when it’s the character, but when it’s said of the actress, things get out of hand, and that’s really not okay. The problem with most of these hateful comments are that they really have no basis. Someone is quick to comment “I hate Laurel, Laurel sucks, Laurel is the worst character,” and yet well and truly under a quarter of the people I ask can actually justify why they dislike her character. Here are some points:

Laurel was deliberately written to be dislikable- it's all a part of her arc…

This is a point so many people fail to realise. They attribute Laurel’s dislikable character to poor writing or poor acting, but that isn’t the case. Last season very explicitly, particularly in the middle, and indeed in some parts of season one Laurel was intended to be dislikable. Do you truly think the writers wrote Laurel to blame Oliver for Tommy’s death, for her to have an irrational disdain and campaign against the Arrow, all for you to like her? Of course not! Laurel Lance last season was intended to be a dislikable witch. She did cruel things, she was senselessly thinking, she was shallow, she developed an addiction, she disowned her father’s help. In season one, she was unfair to Oliver, though on whole she wasn’t really that bad. Do you remember Home Invasion, where without even thinking she took a small boy under her protection and made it her goal to stop his parent’s murderer, putting his life before her own? How can that possibly be considered bad?

In Arrow we talk about a character's "island," which they go through and face challenges, demons and horrors before redeeming themselves and becoming a hero- or indeed a villain, as in Slade's case. Roy had his with the Mirakuru, and he's come out on the other side. Laurel's is longer and tougher, and very grounded in reality, based around death and addiction. She's pulled through it miraculously. Even after that stint in season two when she was awful to other characters (often quite rightfully, she just forgot social code!) we see her now happier and still doing good, which a sign of true character. She's not weak or annoying, she's strong. Above all, the writing isn't fake or bad, it's fantastic and realistic. People are just too busy stuck in the middle of season two thinking that woman is the same one we see now.

….and over the past few episodes she has done only good things, emerging for the better.

Of late, Laurel has become more like that character. In the series finale last year, and the two preceding episodes, Laurel developed a respect for Oliver and his team she hadn’t had, ultimately trying to help them save the city but actually giving them space and leaving to help the SCPD on the night Slade’s army attacked. In the season three finale, I’m not entirely sure how she was dislikeable. She persecuted a criminal based on the Arrow’s evidence without thanks and proudly watched as her father disbanded the Anti-Vigilante task force. She was proud of her sister Sara and happy for her. She was horrified to see her sister killed; I saw someone suggest “oh, Laurel’s crying again.” You’re attempting to tell me if your sister was shot on a rooftop and fell to her death on a dumpster before cruelly landing on the pavement while you watched you wouldn’t cry?

The issue here is that people don’t acknowledge that her character was intended to be dislikable, and continue to dislike her afterwards quite senselessly without considering that. The developments in her character recently have hardly made her a dislikable character, but people are not willing to realise that she can change, just as anyone can. If you hadn’t picked that up, you haven’t been paying enough attention to the show.

Whether Laurel is likable or not should not be on the basis of what other characters you like. It will not stop Oliver from being with Felicity, if that’s what you crave.

Another thing I need to address. I personally love seeing Oliver with Felicity and Diggle and Roy in their own little team. However, others who worship “Olicity” are quick to attack Laurel. They seem to feel her existence is a threat to Oliver and Felicity’s potential relationship, and as such her character and actress must be senselessly savaged. Laurel was in a relationship for Oliver for a long time, yes, but others are on that list too. Did you dislike Shado, Huntress, Sara Lance, police officer Mckinnon from way back in series one, all because they were potential threats to a relationship?

The answer is highly likely no, of course not. That would be shallow. And that remains the case. Liking Felicity does not by default mean you have to dislike Laurel. Two characters can actually coexist and be liked without you hating one of them. This point is harder to explain, though I’m sure many understand it. I do dislike the word “shipping” and the conjoined names that follow it, but I’m all for its concept. However, to use your pairings as an excuse to hate other characters and not on the basis of their own character is by definition shallow.

Laurel haters are quick to hate the comics, but her character in the comics does not make the show. The show makes the show.

You’ll notice I haven’t actually mentioned the Green Arrow comics yet. That’s certainly very deliberate. You see, people who hate Laurel nearly always have it pointed out to them that Laurel is actually Black Canary in the comics, and will follow that show in the path. Cue the response “comics are evil I hate comics you’re all nerds the comics aren’t the show.” And to an extent, the response is right. The comics aren’t the show, but the show has grounded itself in them more frequently and the core facts of the mythos are slowly presenting themselves and staying the same, even with twists. Sara Lance wasn’t in the comics, but that’s because she was introduced as a new character, and ultimately a part of Laurel’s arc to become Black Canary. A part of her island, we Arrow fans like to call it.

It was quite deliberate that Sara was never referred to as Black Canary, only ever The Canary. Black Canary is yet to be introduced into the show, and that’s because, hint after hint and reference after reference, it’s quite clear the show has intended to have Laurel as Black Canary from day one. The showrunners from Andrew Kreisberg to Mark Guggenheim to Greg Berlanti have confirmed this on multiple occasions. That is the purpose of having Laurel in the show, and her name actually being Dinah Laurel Lance, the same as in the comics. She just goes by her middle name.

But the show is its own thing. The comics do not define its decisions. Indeed, it’s been defining the comics of late. But that doesn’t mean that the showrunners are dismissing the comics, as they have always expressed an interest in following them, and, ultimately, the show has chosen to follow the comics here. Why you would suddenly feel the need to bash the comics I can’t understand, as I would estimate that at least 80% of those who say “who cares about the comics?” have never touched a comic or acknowledged the mythology.

As it stands, the show is its own thing, and the show has chosen to follow the comics in this respect. That was the show’s own decision, and so to hate the comics or to dismiss them because they don’t meet your expectations is foolish, and will ultimately likely end badly for you. The introduction of Ted Grant, Laurel receiving Sara’s jacket, and Sara’s death have all been fairly indicative that, again, regardless of the comics, the show intends to have Laurel as Black Canary.

Finally, Katie Cassidy is a talented actress, and to abuse a person for no reason is wrong.

Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy in Arrow's pilot.
Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy in Arrow's pilot.

This won’t be a long point, but it’s one I certainly feel the need to address. The haters of Laurel commonly attack the character, but a great many also attack the actress. It’s vile. Katie Cassidy in multiple films- I can inform you of examples in the comments if you need- has proved herself a capable and talented actress, and she has proven that in the show before as well. Regardless of your opinion on her, to suggest she should leave the show and that she is a vile person is itself inherently vile and awful.

Stephen Amell himself has labelled the likes of these people “negative assholes” in quite a justified manner. Of course, most of these people are too busy abusing Laurel and worshiping him they think he can’t possibly mean them, because "he loves them". The photo they took with him once proves it, right? They're his favourite, that's pretty obvious. (Sarcastic bit of sarcasm is sarcastic.) The thing is, Amell likely knows very little about you and your beliefs, much as we all love him, and from such a reasonable and charitable person as him, if he calls you a “negative asshole,” you know he means it. And really, you should perhaps consider, after realising you can’t justify your hatred for Laurel or Katie Cassidy and are just jumping on the hate bandwagon and irrationally disliking her, that perhaps he means you, and he’s telling the truth.

Again, I hope you’ve considered these points if you are one of the people who dislikes Laurel. I do not, of course, dismiss all people who dislike Laurel, because I’m sure a few have good reasons. Everyone dislikes a character in a show and can justify it, but the bulk of people who hate Laurel really seem to have no idea what they’re talking about or why they’re doing it. If you are one of the people who has such a rational excuse, I’d like to hear it (civilly) presented in the comments, as I enjoy talking about these things. If you’re just going to bash Laurel senselessly as is done so frequently elsewhere in the comments, expect to be treated as senseless. Back up your points.

With all that said, I’m looking forward to seeing the arc of Laurel this season and where it will bring us. With rumours that she’s being fitted for a domino mask already, we may be seeing Laurel’s Black Canary sooner than we think, and I think the writers are certainly setting her up to be a far better and far more likable character this season. Let’s just hope people acknowledge that, rather than sticking with outdated and misinformed beliefs. We’ll find out a bit more this week, which the showrunners promise is to feature Laurel quite heavily, after the events of last episode.

Let me know your thoughts below!

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