This article will contain mild spoilers for the show Gotham. I say mild because a lot of it was in comic form for many years ahead of time, spoiler alert guys, Bruce Wayne is Batman, other than that, for the most part, a lot of these spoilers are incidental to the story line.
This review is coming late, its been months since the finale of Gotham aired, and two weeks since I finished watching it myself. I didn’t know whether I was going to write about this here but then the tag line in my bio does say gay media aficionado, and if there’s one thing that Gotham did right was it’s representation.
Before I go on, I want to say that I’m very aware that not everyone was represented by the show. I don’t want to make any excuses for the holes in representation that existed within the show; what I do want to do though is laud the creators for taking a concept that could have run a couple of seasons and been cancelled, before slowly disappearing into an embarrassing background show that fans hope never becomes canon, and instead they created fully fleshed out world of characters who until now had only existed to prop up Batman, but here instead they stood on their own, with their own goals, dreams, and motivations.
Before I go on for those who have heard of it but not really looked into it too much, Gotham is a prequel of sorts for the Batman franchise. It starts with Bruce Wayne witnessing the death of his parents and it charts the rise of young cop Officer Gordon (the future Police Commissioner for those who have seen the movies or read the comics).
It’s a story of Batman’s supporting characters. What they were like before Batman existed and the world that Vruce Wayne grew up in, a world that could create something like a middle aged man dressed in leather and armour as a flying rat to fight crime.
Our handsome lead Jim Gordon, is a man of Black and Whites, of hard liens drawn in the sand and we get to see him tested time and time again until he understands that we live in a world of fuzzy lines and greys.
I said this was an article about Gay Media and I’ve barely touched on it. Gotham has strong female villains, heroines and teaches us that maybe those titles are arbitrary and often applied to people rather than adopted by them. The first couple of seasons have a lot of leg work introducing us to a whole cast of characters, but as soon as that’s done and even during that process, one of Batman’s long time nemeses Penguin is very evidently queer.
Penguin is a slightly effeminate young man raised by his mother who is often overlooked and downtrodden. I’m biased, I’m a cis white gay man, so it was easy to empathises with Oswald Cobblepot’s (The Penguin’s actual name) plight. When he fell in love with his straight best friend I knew his pain and the forthcoming rejection. Watching him become strong enough to one day rule the city in its many forms was as exciting and interesting as watching James Gordon try to protect the city from him.
The character growth of Jim Gordon’s fiancé from mild mannered ingenue in the first season through to a strong bisexual entrepreneur villainess in the later seasons is both thrilling and fascinating. She’s a dysfunctional psychopath and despite this has an almost functional same sex relationship with another bisexual woman. The respect and love they have for one another is as important as the strong roles they play within the show, ruling a huge portion of the city and protecting women’s right; knowing that in a man’s world they have to make a difference and not just what for it.
Jeremiah (the pseudo Joker archetype) and his relationship with Bruce Wayne has always been thinly veiled homosexual tension, and while they could have dispersed with the veil I think it was more interesting that they kept it, we had enough out characters, it was a nice change of pace to have a love that sometimes bordered on romantic obsession and other times trod the line of fraternal bond.
The show wasn’t perfect. It had slow moments, it had slow seasons, out was shackled by corporate ordinance (not being able to use the name Joker was ridiculous because it was so obvious that was what Jeremiah was supposed to be, I digress), but overall this show was a success. For people like me, who sit intersectionally between the gay community and the queer community, this show was a breath of fresh air. It felt like a space for me, a space where I could see people like me, and people not like me, and see stories of characters that I know and love, and get to know them all better.
Whether the lore set in Gotham ever becomes canon it is a joy all the same, and worth the watch. It took me a long time to finish it and I know why now, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to those characters. The show ended well, much better than I expected, I felt far more emotion than I expected, and yes even shed a tear or two (which I did not expect from a show like this). Now that my mourning period is over I can ask myself was it worth it? Did I get what I wanted from the show? Did the show better me as a person? I think I can say yes it did.