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?