Batwoman TV Show Review: Did It Deserve the Backlash?

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BY October 7, 2019

When I wrote about the backlash to the Batwoman TV show’s trailers, I admittedly had no skin in the game. This may be received as sacrilege, but I don’t actually watch any of The CW’s superhero block. I also have no feelings about Batwoman, positive or negative. So my approach to the backlash was almost academic. Basically, I was curious what the big deal was. And that’s what drove me to watch the pilot episode–curiosity as to how it all turned out after all that fuss. If you’re curious, too, then here’s a review of the Batwoman TV show that will give you all the answers.

The Basic Details: What’s Up with Batwoman?

CW Batwoman Review Image via CW

In the beginning, there is no Batwoman. There’s just a woman named Kate Kane (Ruby Rose). She lives in a Gotham that hasn’t seen hide nor hair nor bat cowl of the Batman in 3 years. In the interim, her father, Colonel Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) and his company, Crows Private Security, have taken charge of keeping Gotham safe.

Kicked out of military school (because of her relationship with fellow student Sophie (Meagan Tandy)) and shipped away by her father, she’s been off doing…other stuff (?), I guess. All that’s kinda handwaved away. Mostly she’s trying to avoid her family. When she was a child, she was the only survivor of a car accident that killed her mom and sister. Her dad has since remarried–to Catherine Hamilton-Kane (Elizabeth Anweis)–and I would guess that didn’t help heal the rift between father and daughter.

That rift is only widened by the events of the pilot, by the way. Having not heard from Batman in years, the city prepares to turn off the Bat-Signal (at a weirdly exclusive event). Before they can do that, though, a mysterious woman, Alice (Rachel Karsten), and her goons interrupt the ceremony and kidnap Sophie. Kate can’t handle that, so she goes full-on vigilante. First stop, her cousin Bruce Wayne’s building, because he has all the cool tech. Can’t imagine she’ll find anything else interesting there.

I’ll Quit Stalling and Give You the Batman TV Show Review

CW Batwoman Review Image via screengrab

On the surface, there’s a lot to like about the pilot. Outside of the father-daughter relationship, for example, I liked Kate’s story. Her relationships with other people–stepsister Mary (Nicole Kang) and Lucius Fox’s son Luke (Camrus Johnson), in particular–added levity and real emotion. And speaking of relationships, as the wreck that killed her family informs everything Kate does, it’s handled well. The flashbacks look like hot garbage, but I like the way the story is told.

And I like the story of Alice. After being quite whelmed by Joker last week, it’s refreshing to see someone menace Gotham with a plan. The show comes alive whenever she’s onscreen. That’s a good thing, because the pilot could be dull and draggy in parts. It’s livened up by fight scenes, which are less muddled than DC fights usually are, but then sunk again by bland line readings of corny lines.

Here Comes the Downside of Batwoman

CW Batwoman Review Image via CW

In addition, again, I’m not an expert on CW superhero shows, so I don’t know all of their tropes. But I have seen a few episodes, and it feels like they have a factory that spits out side characters, like the tech wizard and the flighty sister. This could be the result of all of these characters being products of decades-old stories, but I’m just saying that once you notice it, it’s hard not to keep noticing it.

On that note, here’s another thing I noticed. While some of the backlash has been about “SJWs” or arguments that the show is too woke or not woke enough, I don’t care about any of that. While I notice tired cliches, of course, I don’t monitor programs to check if they’re problematic or not. But it’s hard not to notice when the show’s first non-Kate character is an indigenous man, especially when he talks like Tonto. “You find way. Own way. Tomorrow, find faster.” I can’t believe it’s the 90s and TV shows are still pulling this nonsense. Overall, my review of the Batwoman TV show is pretty positive. It wasn’t a stunner from the jump, but there’s room to move and room to improve. And room to never do whatever that scene with the native man was again.

CW will air the Batwoman pilot again Tuesday and Saturday nights, returning with new episodes Sunday at 8 p.m.

Did you watch the Batwoman premiere? Let us know what you thought in the comments or on social mediums.

featured image via The CW

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf.

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