For the masses who are not nerds like myself, The CW is currently killing it with their superhero shows. Honestly, as a whole, their programming is pretty much amazing and one of the best on cable. Two of their biggest hits at the moment are actually a part of the same “universe,” meaning the shows acknowledge each other’s existence.

You know how all the Law & Order, CSI, and Chicago shows interact with each other? Well, The CW currently has The Flash and Arrow operating side-by-side, the two shows taking place only hours away from each other.

The Flash was actually a spin-off of Arrow. In season 1 we first meet Oliver Queen, a billionaire brat turned marooned survivor turned killer vigilante. During season 2, we meet Barry Allen, a quirky but lovable science guy who gets struck by special lightening and can now run very quickly.

Both shows feature strong male leads dealing with circumstances that push them to look to others for help — and in doing so, they now look to each other.

And this is why I bring up these shows.

The CW has made an incredible decision to actually build a functional and ongoing relationship between the two main characters. They aren’t just acquaintances who might know each other. They aren’t enemies either, competing for the best bad guy or the pretty girl (or girls, as the case may be sometimes).

They’re friends. These two guys are friends. Two strong men with great personalities, little quirks, and human flaws have a friendship with each other. And it’s healthy. Wonderful. Beautiful even.

One episode emphasized the crossing of these two shows with each other, and the two men had a moment that has happened to me often. As the two guys are parting ways, Barry goes in to give Oliver a hug; Oliver immediately backs away and makes it clear he is not the “hugging type.”

Now I’ve been there. That whole awkward situation where I say “bye” and spread my arms for the hug while the other guy backs away, holds out his hand, and then shoots me a weird look that makes me want to crawl under a rock and die.

I hate it when that happens.

I like hugs personally. I think they’re great, and I like that hugging differentiates friendships from acquaintances.

When I first saw this hugging moment on the show, I immediately felt awkward with Barry. I might have held my breath to see what he was going to do.

My fear was that the writers would play to the “manly” side and say something about hugs are for girls and men break bricks with their heads or something. It’s usually where TV goes. With these shows being so personal to me, this would have actually hurt a little. I would have been quite disappointed if the characters had parted ways on such awful terms.

But I was not disappointed.

When Oliver pulls away and reminds Barry of his “no hugs” lifestyle, Barry casually reminds Oliver that he himself is a hugger and, having super speed, could simply hug him quickly without his consent. So, why not just hug him?

I broke into a huge, geeky, nerdy, fanboy smile at this. I also might have squealed, but there is no evidence to prove that.

Nonetheless, I was excited, and not just because of the nerd aspect. I was excited that the show was acknowledging — nay, affirming — Barry in his hugging lifestyle and reprimanding the “ideal masculine code” that Oliver was hiding behind.

While I am never for making someone uncomfortable, I am for communicating care for people in ways that they best understand. Barry is a hugger. Had Oliver held his ground, it would have hurt his relationship with Barry. And it truthfully would have hurt me a little, too.

I finished the episode with an even greater appreciation and love for the show. I also left it with an affirmation: it’s okay to ask for a hug. It’s okay to ask for something from a friend. It’s okay to be vulnerable with someone I trust. And it’s okay to admit your differences within a relationship.

Gosh, now I want a hug.

Are you a hugger like Barry or not so much like Oliver? Have you ever had an awkward hugging encounter? How do you experience hugs and healthy physical touch in a same-sex friendship?

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    15 Comments
    • Reply Jeremy

      29 December 2015, 4:39 am

      Nice! Like the clip! I think I could be a hugger with them, but I’m not usually a hugger. There’s this huge guy at one of the churches I used to go to who is a hugger, and when he hugged one kind of disappeared. I tried to avoid getting a hug from him. Lol! Nice that the show is affirming some good things. Thanks for sharing.

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        30 December 2015, 5:18 pm

        Thank you for sharing as well, Jeremy! Not everyone is a hugger and that’s ok- I have friends whose personal space I respect. It just makes a hug from them more meaningful when they initiate it!

        • Reply Jeremy

          31 December 2015, 11:09 am

          I was intrigued by the show and have got into watching past episodes of Arrow. Lots and lots! Not all in sequence unfortunately so sometimes the story is disconnected – I just have to take what I can find on YouTube! But I’m into Arrow and so enjoying, thanks to you. Have yet to get to The Flash, but I will.

    • Reply John Heaton

      30 December 2015, 1:05 am

      Oh. My. Gosh. I just started watching the flash and I freaking love it! I haven’t started watching The Arrow yet but it looks like I will. When I saw the clip I had the exact same reaction as you, a big goofy obnoxious, somewhat embarrassed smile. Even without knowing much about superheroes and being “geeky” in that sense, I totally connected with it.
      I personally am a huge hugger but I always fear that it won’t be reciprocated so I rarely go for it, especially with guys. This is despite the fact that I quite literally crave hugs and social interaction. I also try to be aware of people who don’t like hugs or can experience anxiety and other negative things from them. Weirdly enough, watching this video made me feel almost as if I was being hugged. Strange.

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        30 December 2015, 5:19 pm

        I know the feeling, John! That scene definitely felt like a nice hug from a good friend. That episode will be rewatched many times over when it comes to Netflix eventually.

    • Reply Noah Gray

      30 December 2015, 5:22 pm

      I used to feel uncomfortable with hugs, even though I always craved them from people to whom I felt very close. As mentioned in my previous post, I was often suspected for being gay and bullied for it growing up, so I feared physical touch especially with my male friends. However, college changed that forever. When I went to college, which was a private Christian university, everyone hugged. I mean, everyone! I felt as if I were in a totally different world there. People would hug when they first met instead of shaking hands, even. After spending four years in that environment, it feels strange shaking someone’s hand, especially a friend’s. I usually just tell people, “I’m going to hug you,” and then just go for it. I catch myself hugging someone after only meeting them once, sometimes, too. The only time I avoid hugs is when I’m in a professional setting, like at work. There, you have to be careful about the sexual harassment rules, which can includes hugs. When I took the Five Love Languages test, I scored physical touch as my top love language (tied with quality time)!

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        30 December 2015, 7:01 pm

        I love that you give a formal warning of an oncoming hug. 🙂 that is awesome of you though for real- of the non-hugging people I have met, one of the things they don’t like about hugs is the unexpected pressure to initiate the hug. By your initiative and verbal warning, you relieve that pressure and allow the other person to not be made uncomfortable. If anything, it might turn them into a hugger someday. 🙂

      • Reply C. Marque

        2 January 2016, 12:43 pm

        Haha, I think you should start a new trend! Hugging in the workplace! Those dumb harassment rules… Seriously, the people who get offended should just be fired! 🙂

    • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

      1 January 2016, 3:22 pm

      I still don’t fully “get” the superhero genre. Probably because I assume it’s all fights and explosions and not enough emotional hugging scenes. I loved your tie-in to this clip, though. I’m a hugger myself and have had more than my share of awkward hugging encounters over the years. My go-to greeting nowadays is to shake a guy’s hand when I first meet him, then graduate to the bro-shake/back-tap or possibly straight to the full-on hug if I properly feel out the friendship or get the sense that he’s a hugger himself. Usually I can gauge that now; when I can’t, the awkward happens. OH WELL.
      Anyway, I look forward to the sequel of this post where Oliver initiates a hug with Barry. That will happen, right?

      • Reply Dean Samuels

        4 January 2016, 9:45 pm

        No spoilers on here, Tom. But I will be sure to post more about Barry and Oliver’s relationship for you in the future.

      • Reply Eddie

        23 June 2016, 3:43 pm

        “…shake a guy’s hand when I first meet him, then graduate to the bro-shake/back-tap or possibly straight to the full-on hug…” Good policy brother. Same here.

    • Reply Kevin Frye

      4 January 2016, 3:48 am

      This is really good. I’m definitely a hugger, cuddler, shoulder rubber, and butt smacker. Japanese people generally are not, but I’m working on them a little at a time.

    • Reply Mark Buzard

      10 March 2016, 7:40 pm

      I loved that episode, and it made me laugh and smile. Arrow got weird, and I stopped watching it, but I have been keeping up with the Flash….maybe it is immature of me for my age, but I like superheroes. I loved Smallville and identified with his having a secret he had to keep from the world. of course I don’t worry about that now.
      I am a hugger, but rarely initiate it, though I am more prone to put my arm around someone while talking to them. I love hugs 🙂

    • Reply Eddie

      23 June 2016, 5:24 pm

      Yes, I do believe I am a hugger and I did admit that to a fellow man on a men’s retreat. He reciprocated the same for himself. However, my personality has been shaped into something a bit like Oliver. Would I be willing to hug a guy? Sure, but it depends on the guy. Like Dean I don’t feel comfortable walking up to some stranger, male or female, and giving them an embrace nor receive such token of affection. I’m a strong proponent of hugging; however, I’m also a strong proponent of boundaries. I hate it yet I justify this as a means of self-preservation. The whole mentality that tells me: “don’t let people get too close to you or they might hurt you, guard your heart, give it time and establish trust first and foremost.” It is rare that I find myself faced with an awkward hugging experience. The one time that stands out is when I tried to fully hug my friend Dan as a celebratory expression on the birth of his son. “Congrats bro, you’re a father… let’s hug!” The hug qualified more of a side hug at best and left me a bit disheartened. Hugging in my life is relative. Like I mentioned before, it depends on the guy. How good a friend he is. How long we’ve known each other. Are we comfortable with such a intimidate act? Nowadays it is rare as I don’t get the hugger vibe from any of my immediate guy friends. Would I be inclined to hug Dean, Kevin, Tom, John, Elliot, Corey, PK or any other guy here? Sure. Just don’t expect a bear hug on first impression. :D… (((((((DEAN SAMUELS)))))))…. There’s a cyber text hug for you Dean. Peace and love brother.

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