A new casting report says Fox is planning to replace the young actor who plays Poison Ivy on Gotham with someone older. I'll give you one guess why.
Back in 2014, I interviewed Gotham's executive producer/writer Bruno Heller about the casting of younger actors for the Batman prequel series. “The danger was, which we tried to steer away from initially, was that if you have a kid in a lead role, then it”s a kid”s show. And you have to sort of write it to the kid,” he said, specifically praising David Mazouz's work as Bruce. “But with David, he understands and can play very complex, difficult, dysfunctional or sometimes scary stuff.”
I don't think anyone could confuse Gotham for a “kid's show” but it does involve more than one child actor. I felt there were some problematic issues that could arise down the road – specifically when it came to Catwoman and Poison Ivy. The two DC Comics characters are known for using their sexuality but are played by young actors Camren Bicondova and Clare Foley on the show. When I asked Heller how they were approaching their characterization he told me:
By treating it as natural. They won”t – as they grow up, they won”t be as sexualized as the characters are in the comic book. Not to get into the “why they were that way” but it”s a kind of visual thing. You could say the men are also sexualized but you don”t see unpleasant physical specimens of men either. Like Batman is a hunk. And a big part of the unspoken attraction of those characters is that they”re very big, handsome guys. Which is not to say that we”re going to create unsexual versions of those characters, but we will know them as people. We will know them from when they were young. We won”t have to rely on the visual pop of a bustier. That”s the characters. You”ve got a bustier on. There”s more to it than that.
So much for that. While Bicondova (Selina “Cat” Kyle) is more of a regular on the series, Foley's Ivy Pepper has had more of a recurring role. But TV Line now reports:
When the Fox drama returns this fall with Season 3, little Ivy Pepper will have transformed into big, bad Poison Ivy. As a result, Clare Foley – who has intermittently appeared as the plant-obsessed orphan during the series” first two seasons – will not be returning.
Gotham has no shortage of actual, adult villains so this seems like a strange decision. I wonder what the thinking behind it could be…
Add this to a previous TV Line report which stated they'd be adding “a young villainess 'who uses her sexuality to entrap men,'” and we're getting into familiar territory. They want to sex up the show but can't use an underage actor to do that. But don't worry, they're still going to cast a teenager, just one of legal age so no one feels weird about it! TV Line writes, “Casting is underway for an actress in her late teens to assume the now-series regular role of the would-be eco-terrorist.”
This is why we can't have nice things.
I stopped watching Gotham after the first season, I honestly don't see what about it appeals to people but I'm really disappointed to see the network and creators making this decision. The show is popular, it doesn't need an injection of sex to make it more appealing than it already is to fans. This isn't HBO.
And frankly, if everyone involved isn't already at least slightly weirded out by it I'd be surprised. Putting aside Heller's false equivalence about how men and women are portrayed both in comics and television, choosing to age-up one of your female characters sends a very clear message and it's a bad one.