Not Just an OTP: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Snowbarrisco?

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Snowbarrisco?

I’ll forgive you if you think, due to the above tweets, that Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin have perished in some unfortunate incident. Because what else would lead to this rather dramatic desperation?

But no. Snowbarry shippers have simply been demanding that these three share more scenes together. Now, this has in fact been going on for the entirety of the fourth season – Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin share scenes almost every episode.

What Snowbarry shippers really mean is that they want Iris to leave. They actually would like all the Black people to leave, but they’ll settle for taking Iris’ status as Team Leader away from her and shoving her out of the building. “Snowbarrisco” – the portmanteau of Caitlin, Barry, and Cisco’s names – is supposed to be the platonic relationship between the three of them, but the demands to bring it back ring rather hollow because none of them have left. They still interact every episode. They still care about each other. So what’s the problem?

Of course, the problem is that the Wests are at S.T.A.R. Labs now. If the love of his life and his father-in-law are always in the building, Snowbarry shippers can’t act like Cisco and Caitlin are the most important people in Barry’s life. If Iris continues to be an effective team leader, they can’t act like Cisco, Caitlin, and the various versions of Harrison Wells are the people he needs the most to be a hero. First, we need to talk about “Original Team Flash.” Snowbarry shippers want the team to consist only of Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and whomever Tom Cavanagh is playing. The reasoning behind this is that they were with him from the beginning and shaped him as a hero, thus they’re the people most important to Barry being The Flash. (We’re supposed to ignore the fact that Iris activated his powers, named him, introduced him to the world, and Barry has literally said that – ugh, never mind. You get it.)

There are many problems with this concept; first, that Joe West was just as much a part of Team Flash as the others were, and in the end had much more influence on Barry as a hero since he was pretty much Barry’s moral compass. Poor Joe, however, is kicked unceremoniously out of “Original Team Flash” despite being in the know from the beginning and being the only one to consistently care about Barry as a person rather than a super-fast guinea pig. Not to mention that Joe has saved Caitlin’s life, saved Dr. Wells from the Reverse-Flash (until we found out that they were the same person), and assisted in trying to save Cisco. By demanding more “Team Flash” but only including the white people and Cisco, they indicate that they’ve never thought Joe, Iris or Wally were ever part of it. But I’m sure that’s a mistake.

The other problem is that Original Team Flash had a murderer on it; namely, the person who killed Barry’s mother. Earth-2 Harrison Wells joined the team several months after Iris did, near the beginning of the second season, so he’s not really “OTF” – although you’ll see that for Harry they’ll make an exception for some reason. There’s also the fact that at different points during the show, Ronnie, Eddie, and Professor Stein were also on Team Flash, but fans didn’t start their incessant bleating about OTF until Iris joined the team at the end of the first season. Which tells you several things about what they mean when they talk about it.

The most offensive thing about this is that there is only 1 Golden Trio, and their names are Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But at least Harry gets his honorary spot despite not really being “original.” I wonder what he’s got that Joe lacks?

First of all, if you’re a fan of Arrow, then “Original Team Flash” probably sounds suspiciously like “Original Team Arrow.” Both of them want to elevate the woman on the “original team” (there is only ever one woman) above the canon love interest, therefore implying that she’s more important. This way Caitlin is always the most important woman in Barry’s superhero life no matter what he says. It’s merely a pathetically flimsy attempt to hide the fact that they don’t want Iris usurping Caitlin’s supposed place. Cisco is pretty much used as a cheerleader for their ship, someone who supports both unconditionally, and a convenient way to prove they’re not racist. It’s telling that whenever Cisco interacts with Iris, she’s accused of stealing him from Caitlin, and they turn on him when he rises above his station – because he’s only useful when he’s the third wheel to Barry and Caitlin.

It’s also another example of their elitism, since Joe is always thought of as a useful member of the team, but never a member of OTF. Probably because, you guessed it, Joe isn’t a scientist. There’s probably a point somewhere about the unfortunate implications of the intelligent white people and the one brown guy being permitted on the team while the non-scientific Black man who saves their hides on a regular basis isn’t, but I’ve promised my editor not to go overboard. Regardless, it’s an example of the bizarre gatekeeping that happens on the dynamics of these shows.

It took me a while to realise that Snowbarry shippers didn’t really consider anyone but Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Tom Cavanagh’s various incarnations to be actual members of Team Flash, even though Wally and Ralph are the only members of Team Flash who didn’t join it in season one. They don’t view Iris as a member of it even when she does get to contribute to the the team, using her journalism or any other skill that she has, or when she saves any of the members of it. That’s why they tend to say that Iris is nothing but a love interest who’s only on the team because she’s married to Barry – everything she does, they diminish by saying she’s only in the building because Barry is allowing her to be. They view Team Flash as some bizarre, only-scientists-allowed-club, and resent the fact that Iris, with her non-science, is allowed to be on it and steal the “only girl” (see next page) status from Caitlin. Because as we’ll explore, “OTF” is one of the things that makes Caitlin more special than Iris.

Finally, it’s a way for Snowbarry shippers to signal to the writers that this is the only version of the “team” that they want, and it’s a simple way of shutting anyone else out. And by anyone else, I mean the members of the Flash comics that, if they were to appear on the show, would likely take precedence over Caitlin, Cisco, and Harrison Wells. OTF is used to make Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells more “special” than Iris, Wally, and Joe. It’s just a rather unfortunate coincidence, I’m sure, that everyone they want to keep off the team is Black.

Not sure it’s only Black people? They weren’t this upset when Patty was supposed to join the team, believing her to be a better alternative than Iris. Nor did they complain as much when Julian joined even though he literally had Barry’s accent. Furthermore, with the addition of Ralph Dibny in the fourth season, many fans have attributed the lack of screen time for “Original Team Flash” to Iris rather than the fact that the person who’s getting the most development is Ralph, making it very clear that they don’t have as big a problem as they do Iris. Besides which, whenever people complain that the team is getting too big, those fans immediately want to kick out Iris and Wally and relegate Joe to sporadic appearances, but Ralph is allowed to stay. Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells, however, are deemed too special to leave Team Flash, despite the fact that in the comics they don’t exist. I suppose there’s a point about today’s political climate in there somewhere – siding with a literal misogynistic white dude while blaming a Black woman for the trouble he caused – but I’m not sure I possess the nuance to make it.

Snowbarry shippers tend to use both OTF and Snowbarrisco interchangeably, but the latter at least doesn’t pretend that it cares whether the original team had the Harrison Wells who was secretly the villain who killed Barry’s mother. They complain that since Barry got into a relationship with Iris, Snowbarrisco’s friendship scenes have decreased to the point where, apparently, it’s hard to remember that they were even friends. In the first season, Barry had a lot of his emotional scenes with the two of them, which was necessary as they were becoming friends; unlike Iris, they weren’t important to him at the beginning of the series. Watching their relationship go from colleagues to friends was one of the nicest parts of season one. However, when Iris joined the team, fans started complaining that their friendship time was decreased in favour of Westallen, and that Iris was taking the position of Barry’s closest friend away from Caitlin and Cisco.

Since Barry has continually stated that Iris has always been his best friend, I’m going to ignore that last part. But it’s pretty obvious what Snowbarry shippers are saying when they want “Snowbarrisco” back. Since, after all, nobody ever forgets that Iris is Wally’s sister even though they haven’t had a “brother-sister” moment in a while. And if they can conjure up an entire relationship out of Barry and Caitlin looking at each other, why can they not believe that Barry, Cisco and Caitlin are still friends despite not holding hands and exchanging friendship vows? What they actually mean is that they want moments between the three of them to exclude Iris, indicating that Caitlin and Cisco can give Barry emotional support where she can’t. After all, why can’t Iris be their friend (she is their friend, at least that’s the writers’ intention since they go to her housewarming dinners and her father’s Christmas parties, but fans like to pretend that they’re just putting up with her) and have a new dynamic? If they really care about Barry so much, why don’t they want his wife having moments with everyone, thus making them a stronger team? Well, like I said, because they’re all about excluding Iris so Caitlin and Cisco have something that belongs to them – OTF/Snowbarrisco – that Iris and the Wests have no part of.

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