Don’t Put Batwoman’s Poor Ratings on Javicia Leslie
Javicia Leslie is the one coming into a rocky ship.
Over the Holiday Weekend, website The Wrap published a Tweet, now deleted, stating that Javicia Leslie’s debut on The CW’s Batwoman “didn’t hold a candle” to Ruby Rose’s. The Tweet unleashed a firestorm online, without people calling out that it was unnecessarily loaded, especially on King Day. The headline now reads “Javicia Leslie’s ‘Batwoman’ Debut Plummets 80% in Ratings From Ruby Rose’s.”
Now, I have not watched much of Batwoman for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Ruby Rose isn’t that strong of an actress and ending with me still having PTSD from The Vampire Diaries’ treatment of Black and non-white characters. Still, as someone tapped into the Arrowverse, the reason many people watched this show was for Alice (Rachel Skarsten), and looking at the ratings for Batwoman, they were already not particularly great in general.
Yes, the series debut of Batwoman saw 1.86 million views, but then they dropped, until the Arrowverse crossover brought it back up to 1.71. Following that, the views continued to drop for some time, making it to the mid .80s, but that was it. That is common for a lot of shows on the network. All the Arrowverse shows saw drops, with Supergirl’s finale only getting 0.65 views and Legends getting 0.73. The Flash is the only Arrowverse show that consistently keeps 1.01 million views and over.
Batwoman’s first season had the new shiny allure of being a new show, but it was never a critical darling, getting slapped in the first season for bad acting and other things. So, to have the show go through the effort to actually hire an actress with range, and then putting all the pressure on that actress is a bit slimy, because Javicia Leslie is the one coming aboard a rocky ship.
After a decade of stability, the Arrowverse, or whatever they want to call it now, is not going to be as strong as it was before. Big shows are leaving and have left. Who knows how many seasons The Flash has left, or has a cast willing to do it after years of obvious disillusionment with the material? While I may not have thought Ruby Rose was good, there are people who liked her and were attached to how that story was going. It will be up the writers and producers to take the time in order to make sure that Leslie’s Batwoman is seen as her own person and not just Black-Batwoman and Ruby Rose’s replacement.
Am I surprised that the return of Batwoman was not exceptionally great on a Sunday, when a game was on, and when I certainly didn’t even remember it was back on? We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and while streaming has allowed for certain shows to have big premieres, we still don’t know how new television is going to go—especially for shows not getting to do any real ads.
Regardless, framing the fault of the low ratings (0.1 rating last night in the key demo, and 663,000 total viewers) shouldn’t be placed or presented as the fault of the actress. People mostly don’t watch these shows for the leads; they are watching to see comic characters they enjoy being brought to life.
All I know is that if we could all survive Val Kilmer being Batman, then it truly doesn’t matter who is behind the cowl. What matters is the story that is being told, so tell a good story, for the love of Alfred. But unlike Kilmer, when I hear people talk about Leslie’s performance, they have excellent things to say about it, so clearly, at least to me, the issue isn’t her. (Unless we want to discuss racism in the DCTV fandom, but it is only Tuesday)
(image: The CW)
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