Not Just an OTP: In The Beginning, Fandom Created Snowbarry

Moving on, we come to the day that the first trailer came out. The first official trailer for The Flash came out on the morning of May 15th, 2014, the day after the Arrow season 2 finale, at CW’s Upfronts, where CW President Mark Pedowitz was presenting the new shows that would be premiering that year. The series stars were there, and the trailer was played for the audience and later streamed on Twitter. By this point, all anyone knew about the characters was what they looked like, their character breakdowns, and notions of what their characters could be like based on their comic book versions. A lot of people were on Twitter, talking about the presentation and the Arrow finale, and this Deadline article gives you a timeline of how everything happened that day. It’s also the day that “Snowbarry” was named as a ship.

This is the first time anyone saw these people actually being their characters. During the trailer, Barry wakes up from his coma and goes to see Iris West, who expresses elation that he’s awake but worry that he’s on his feet so soon. Barry then places her hand on his heart and informs her that it’s still beating. Now, unless I’ve been watching television wrong for the past two decades, I took that as incontrovertible proof that this woman would be Barry’s love interest. I didn’t ship them until I saw the pilot, but I thought they were kind of cute (after Gossip Girl and 90210, I was very wary of The CW).

Caitlin Snow, after witnessing that Barry had awoken from his coma, asked him to pee in a cup and put an otoscope in his ear. While you do see her again – and you actually see her before you see Iris – she’s mostly talking about medical stuff.

Maybe they enjoyed the fact that Caitlin…really wanted Barry’s pee? I’m not one to judge – everybody has their kinks, after all. And chemistry is indeed subjective, but Barry had about as much chemistry with Cisco in those scenes as he did with Caitlin, and nobody started shipping them together (and still don’t, but we’ll get to that). So barring the endearing qualities of pee, a kind of classist aversion to people with menial jobs (Iris was a barista in the early part of season 1, which some Snowbarry shippers can’t seem to let go of), or a bizarre desire to ship Barry with the woman who was most definitely not his love interest for fun, it was pretty clear what happened there.

Iris West saw Barry Allen, her best friend, return to her after nine months in a coma, be overjoyed that he was all right, and be worried about his health. Caitlin Snow, however, just wanted his pee, checked his hearing, and told him about his injured arm. Because she was – and remains – his doctor. But Iris didn’t deserve the epic love story that the producers and source material were promising. Caitlin Snow did, after doing precious little else other than be white and bodily present.

Now, again, I want to be perfectly clear here as well. The people who started shipping Snowbarry (specifically, the ones who started after they saw Iris) here are also racist, they’re just a wee bit more intelligent about it. Because Barry and Caitlin actually had something resembling meaningful interaction in the trailer, they can hide behind “chemistry,” or my own personal favourite, “they just looked right together” (and if you don’t think that’s racist, neither I nor this article can help you). But I can guarantee you, if Iris West were played by Melissa Benoist, Emily Bett Rickards, or one of the white women on Riverdale instead of Candice Patton, because of the hierarchy of women in fandom, Snowbarry would be a tiny ship that died somewhere in season two, instead of a ship that still routinely makes demands of the producers to make their ship canon. And if Candice Patton had been playing Caitlin, all those same shippers would be talking about with Snowbarry would be how cute it is that men and women can be friends without it turning into romance.

Above on the left is the tweet that named Snowbarry as a ship. The tweets underneath it show that before she named it, the user was already throwing out possible names for the ship within minutes of seeing the trailer. She’d named it within about an hour. In the middle, you’ll see the first tweet that named “Olicity” as a ship. It’s dated the day after Felicity made her first appearance, where she and Oliver had an interaction that lasted more than five seconds, and was actually pretty charming. (Arrow fans, this is where we lose you).

I once saw a comment that said that “Snowbarry is a ship that sails on a sea of piss,” which I have to admit I thought was rather rude, not to mention the fact that it didn’t make any sense. After all, every ship deserves respect, right? But I should admit that this was before I started watching the show, and all the insistent shippers acting as if Barry and Caitlin were in love, articles that advocated shipping them that were pretty much based on them being single and science, and the fact that Danielle Panabaker talked more about Barry being Caitlin’s love interest than she talked about Ronnie confused me a little. But I suppose now I can see where the comment was coming from. Snowbarry shippers who started right then call it chemistry. So as not to cause any confusion, I’m just going to refer to it as what it was. Which is racism.

1 2 3 4