Anyone that’s a fan of the CW’s television show “Arrow” has probably heard the term “Olicity”. It’s a fan-created way to talk about characters Oliver Queen (the Arrow) and Felicity Smoak (his smart assistant) hooking up as a couple at some point in the storyline. If you are hearing the term for the first time, please Google it and get caught up on the landslide of fan videos and commentary.
As a writer, Olicity is a wonderful example of actors bringing something extra to their characters and fans demanding more. I’d like to explore the pluses and the minuses of Olicity, including what a pickle the writer’s have created for themselves. (I apologize in advance if I offer suggestions about how to write the characters going forward, as I have every faith that Arrow’s writers and producers will do them justice.)
The first problem: The Arrow writers had a necessary, but boring scene to write. Main character Oliver needed tech help. They were facing a talking scene that could require a bunch of jargon.
The first solution: Write an interesting IT character.
The second problem: The interesting IT character (Felicity Smoak) was so interesting, she brought out a lighter side in Oliver. This was in part due to the writing, but mostly the acting. The actors clicked in the scene. It did not go unnoticed by the producers, who had Felicity written into more episodes to serve two purposes, plot technical intel and humanize Oliver Queen.
The third problem: The fans went nuts over the chemistry between Oliver and Felicity… thus creating Olicity.
The solution: Run with it.
The fourth problem: Oliver’s main love interest in the comic book world, and the TV show, was suppose to be Laurel Lance. However, the connection between those characters was a mess. Oliver hooked up with Laurel’s sister, she thought he was dead and hooked up with Oliver’s best friend… need I go on? It’s not like the storyline did any favors to their love life.
The solution: Change the Laurel character.
The fifth problem: No one liked the changes. Frankly, the changes were misguided. One of the only missteps of Arrow’s Season Two, btw, which has been amazing. However, they took a serious female lawyer with a strong moral compass and dressed her like a hooker, put her in the DA’s office with a pill-popping problem.
The solution: Make Laurel the only person that can see a friend of Oliver’s is really a major villain.
The sixth problem: Whinning. When Laurel’s quest to expose the villain fails, her drug problem is exposed and she becomes a sad character with no backbone. She loses faith in herself. Unfortunately, what might normally be a great character turn is minimized because we don’t care about Laurel. If a character that is riding the ho-hum train suddenly hits rock bottom, why should I care?
The solution: which hasn’t aired yet, so this is my solution… Make Laurel come out of this stronger. She needs to be smart and have confidence in herself. She needs to figure out she was right. No more whining. She needs to take action.
Unfortunately, I think my solution is also too late for Laurel to win viewers’ hearts. It would take a lot to make me like this character. And I’d never buy her as a love interest for Oliver. It fails on too many levels, even for a TV show with comic book roots.
The seventh problem: Olicity. How do you keep two characters apart when a majority of fans want them together.
I’m happy to say the writers know what they are doing on this score. It’s clear that they have obstacles in place, yet they are still giving viewers all the funny moments, the subtle moments where the characters connect, and tons of fiery arguments that keep Olicity fresh and fun to watch.
As writers, we should watch “Arrow” just to see how the show’s creative team continues the dance between Oliver and Felicity. They give and pullback with just the right touch. It’s so tricky, as they have to give the fans something, but they can’t let it get to the point where it gets boring. So far, there is nothing boring about watching the actors portray Oliver and Felicity. Kudos!
The eighth problem: The Kiss! The writers gave us a hug between Arrow and Felicity, and I say Arrow and not Oliver, because he was wearing his green crime fighting costume. In fact, it should be noted that when Oliver is Arrow, he’s much more emotional with Felicity. It’s a nice distinction, because there is a lot more distance between the characters when Oliver is a billionaire and Felicity is just his assistant. They are partners when he’s Arrow.
The solution: Let them kiss and spawn a whole bunch of new obstacles for the characters.
Wherever the writers and actors take Olicity, it sure will be a fun ride!