Haven’t watched Gotham yet? Maybe you haven’t seen enough about it to pique your interest, or perhaps you were waiting for the finale so you could watch the entire season at once. Well, every episode of Season One has aired, and now’s the perfect time to binge watch. And we’re here to
prod you with a stick show you why Gotham is the show you don’t want to miss.
Here’s some of the reasons Gotham is a must-watch:
~ 1. You’ll see a new side to Bruce Wayne ~
After the Batman films of the early 90s, audiences viewed Bruce Wayne as a campy hero in a bat suit. After the Nolan Trilogy, audiences viewed him as a gravelly-voiced vigilante always angsting over his parents’ death. But on Gotham, audiences will finally get to see Bruce Wayne as he was always meant to be seen — a lost young man, much stronger than his sheltered and privileged life would suggest, with a heart set on rescuing those being oppressed and twisted by the corrupt influences of Gotham City.
The showrunners found a treasure in young actor David Mazouz, who brings both intelligence and humanity to the role. All sides of Bruce Wayne, from his cold detachment to his warm compassion, come together on screen.
~ 2. The City Itself ~
The show is called “Gotham” for a reason. Ominous skyline, dangerous back alleys, a story around every corner. And with its beautifully designed Gothic Art Deco look with neo-noir overtones, it’s practically a character in its own right.
~ 3. The Beginning of Batman and Catwoman ~
It’s impossible not to fall in love with the budding romance between Baby Batman and Baby Catwoman. The characters’ dance between lovers and enemies is one of the most famous relationships in both the comics and movie adaptations. Now you get to see where it all began. And seriously. Look at them.
~ 4. Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin ~
Though we’ve seen the Penguin in visual media before, audiences never really connected with him until his portrayal in Gotham. Even the most negative of Gotham critics agree Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot is stunning. And though the character is truly evil, his story is one of a rising underdog — a bullied man fighting for the respect he’s always wanted but was never given. Thanks to the talent of Robin Lord Taylor, and the complexity put into the character by the writers, viewers sympathized with Oswald to a degree that surprised even the actor.
~ 5. The Awesome Ladies ~
Amazing female characters are a wonderful thing, and sadly rare on television. Fortunately, this is a department in which Gotham certainly isn’t lacking. From the adventure-loving optimism of Lee, to the fierceness of Cat, there are plenty of Gotham ladies to love. And those interested in representation won’t be able to say no to that badass woman of color, Fish Mooney.
~ 6. Alfred like you've never seen him before ~
Everyone knows Alfred to be Batman’s loyal butler. But Gotham shows a side of Alfred never seen before. And it’s kind of amazing. Before Alfred became obedient to the adult Master Wayne, he was the legal guardian of the newly orphaned child Bruce Wayne.
Alfred Pennyworth runs a strict household. But as tough and crusty as he is on the outside, on the inside he just wants the boy he loves like a son to come to love him like a father.
~ 7. It will break your heart in the best possible way ~
Let’s face it. We all want shows to break our hearts. Fans don’t go online to complain about their feels because they’re actually miserable. They’re loving every minute of it. As evidenced by the popularity of such characters as Loki from the Marvel films and Zuko from Avatar: TLA, we want anti-heroes, anti-villains, characters who break our hearts by dancing the line between villainy and possible redemption. And what better set of anti-heroes and anti-villains than Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery — considered by many to be the greatest set of villains in comic book history? These are not spandex-wearing, mustache-twirling villains (despite what *cough* certain films from the 90s suggest). They are amazingly developed and psychology complex characters. And on Gotham, they will come to life for you as vividly real and achingly honest.
They will become like friends to you, as you laugh when they laugh, hurt when they hurt, and die just a little bit inside as you realize that these precious gems of people are destined to become Gotham’s most dangerous criminals. You will see them in their imperfections, greedily seeking power and glory; and you will see them succeed. You will see them try desperately to hold onto their lives, their morals, and their sanity as they navigate a city so dark it can corrupt even the best of people; and you will see them fail. All as it leads up to the story we all know and love. The story of a vigilante intent on saving the innocent from the wrath of these newly formed villains — and in some cases, saving those villains from themselves.
Still not sure? Heard something negative online that’s making you hesitate to press that play button? Never fear! We’ve got you covered. Every show has its critics. As for Gotham’s? Well. They are loud, but few; and they all have the same basic complaints. Now, no show is perfect, and Gotham certainly should not be above criticism. Everyone has the right to critique. But some people are more responsible critics than others. And when people critique something unfairly or inaccurately, it can cause some misconceptions get around. So, to finally prove that Gotham is definitely a show worth your time, we’ll address the most common complaints.
1. “You can’t have a Batman story without Batman.”
This would only be the case if Batman was the only well-liked character in the story. However, as mentioned earlier, Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery is arguably the most popular in any comic universe ever. The Joker? Catwoman? Comic fans and casual viewers alike are not exactly apathetic about such characters. In fact, to many, they are even more interesting than the caped crusader himself. And Gotham is not lacking in heroes either, as it has the honorable Jim Gordon (a young Commissioner Gordon) to protect it. What’s more, Gotham is not exactly a story “without Batman”. He may not be wearing a mask or sweeping down in a cape, but Bruce Wayne’s presence, along with his growing desire for justice, is definitely felt on the show. We see the steps he takes to go from lost little boy to vigilante, and we take that journey with him. Gotham is an origin story, not just for the villains, but for Batman himself.
2. “It’s not accurate to the comics.”
You know what else isn’t accurate to the comics? The comics themselves. Throughout its 75+ year history, the Batman universe has had countless continuities, retellings, and alternate universes. One has to wonder which continuity these critics believe Gotham is violating. When it comes to Batman comics, “canon” and “non-canon” can be very difficult terms to define. Having said that, Gotham is actually surprisingly loyal to the spirit of the story, as well as to events that have taken place in certain continuities.
3. “The show can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it a character drama? Is it a police procedural? Is it a mob war action story? We just don’t know.”
The problem with this criticism is it can be applied against anything. Take Star Wars, for instance. “Is it a sci-fi? Is it a fantasy? Is it a romance? Is it an action/adventure story? Is it a war film? We just don’t know!” Taking elements from multiple genres and bringing them together is something all stories do. And it’s not a bad thing. Gotham is first and foremost a character story. Its main purpose is to show the daily lives of well-known Batman characters, and illustrate how their experiences mold them into their famous personas.
Since Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock were molded by their experiences as police detectives, and the villains were molded by their fights during a mob war, those elements will come into the story.
4. “The show tries to be both dark/gritty and funny/campy. You can’t do both. You have to pick one and stick to it.”
A Series of Unfortunate Events? Anything by Tim Burton? There are countless examples of gritty and campy not only going together, but going together well. I’m not sure why so many people believe there’s a rule against combining different tones in one story.
This idea that it has to be either/or is part of what causes so many stories to be too much of one thing — too gritty and depressing, or too fluffy, silly, or insubstantial. What a good story needs is balance, and that’s exactly what Gotham brings to the table.
5. “The characters are all the wrong ages. By the time Bruce Wayne puts on the cape and cowl, the villains will all be using walkers or lying in nursing homes.”
Currently on Gotham, Bruce Wayne is about eleven or twelve years old. Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Joker, the Scarecrow, and Hush are all around the same age as Bruce. The only main villains older than Bruce are the Penguin, the Riddler, and Two-Face, all of whom are between the ages of 25 and 35. By the time Bruce becomes Batman (which is stated to be around 25 years old in the comics), the oldest villains will be between the ages of 38 and 48. Not exactly nursing home material.
6. “The show wouldn’t know subtlety if it was hit in the head by it with a brick. It’s just one big *wink wink nudge nudge* fanboy fest.”
I’d like to clear up a small (okay, actually enormous) misconception that has arisen around this show, which came about due to many viewers forming pre-conceived ideas before they watched it. There was this idea going around, before the Gotham pilot aired, that the showrunners were going to be somewhat mysterious about which characters would become which villains, and that they would only leave small clues here and there to help audiences identify them.
This, it turns out, was not what the showrunners had decided to do. In fact, it would have been a mistake to go in that direction, since the characters are too well known for there to be any mystery. Everyone knows Selina Kyle is Catwoman and Edward Nygma is the Riddler. You can’t hide that. So, instead of dropping hints, the showrunners took the symbols that the villains would later incorporate into their personas — cats and question marks and umbrellas — and placed them in plain sight of the future villains during their daily lives, to show how such objects entered into their subconscious for later use.
When viewers saw these symbols so blatantly out in the open, many complained that the “hints” weren’t subtle enough. But what these people failed to realize is they were never supposed to be hints. They were not a failed attempt at subtlety. The showrunners simply took a different direction with the show than people expected.
7. “The show is just…bad. The writing is bad. The acting is bad. No one likes the show or even bothers watching it.”
It’s difficult to objectively confirm or deny if something is “bad”, since it’s such a vague and subjective complaint. What’s good to one person is bad to another. But there's no questions that Gotham is one of the most promising shows on television. And not just in the eyes of us here at the Fangirl Initiative. The show has a 90% rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. And the season finale was the highest rated scripted show on television. Not just on Fox. On all of television. The show has a quickly growing fanbase. And no one can deny that Robin Lord Taylor, whose character was the main focus of the show’s first season, is one of the most talented television actors out there right now. The rest of the cast has also been praised by fans and critics alike.
So there you have it. Seven reasons why you should watch the show, and seven criticisms against the show debunked. We hope we’ve made a solid case, and that you’ll join us in the crazy, awesome world of Gotham City. Some of the most fascinating characters and amazing plots await you. And if you do decide to jump into the adventure, feel free to browse the recaps of the show we’ve done here at the Fangirl Initiative, where we take a closer look at the events of each episode, as well as examine the themes and characters. Most of all, we hope you come to love Gotham just as much as we have.