May 22, 2020

The Difficulty with Recasting Main Television Roles

Australian actress and model Ruby Rose was cast as the CW’s Batwoman in 2018, and since then has been featured in two of the annual crossovers and a full television season. However, a few days ago, the news broke that Rose would not be returning as the character of Kate Kane in the already-ordered second season of Batwoman, which is the first time the star of a CW series has left after only one season.

Maybe they could cast someone with naturally red hair.
Personally, I enjoyed the first season of Batwoman (I may review it in the near future), and Rose’s performance was one of its strongest points. This is why, admittedly, the news of her departure shocked me. I know this has happened before, but to me, it’s unprecedented. I’ve never watched a full season of a show, only to see its star replaced after one season (except for Doctor Who, but I’m not sure how much that counts).

Not to say that Rose was “replaced.” In fact, barely a day after her departure was announced, word got out of possible reasons why she left. Apparently, it was a “mutual” separation, with Rose being unhappy about the long hours of work that the lead role required. This unhappiness made her unpleasant to work with, so it seems that there was friction between the actress and the studio that led to the split. Rose also suffered at least one major injury while doing stunts, and although the internet has pointed out that that was not the reason for her departure, I have a feeling it may have contributed to it.
I made a little bet with my father after the news got out. He bet me two ice creams (with added toppings, to “sweeten” the deal) that the show would not, in fact, recast the role of Kate Kane, but instead retcon her character and write her out, replacing her with another lead. I can see where he’s coming from, but I made the bet for a reason.

First off, the CW said that they would recast the role. That’s proof enough, and should’ve been sufficient to ward him away from that bet. It also makes sense to recast because it would be incredibly difficult, from a creative perspective, to write out Kate Kane after a season finale cliffhanger. No, the series will almost certainly recast Rose, most likely with an actress that bears a physical similarity.

This brings up the question of how justified replacing a lead actor on a series or film is. When a character is iconic and very unique in the world of the show and there’s a simple way to write them out (instead of recasting them), then coming up with an explanation of either their sudden departures or death is usually the best way to go. Case in point, Community; Chevy Chase was either fired or quit after he had several outbursts on set (including one instance of saying the N-word), and his character, Pierce Hawthorne, was simply written out, with a simple explanation: Pierce died suddenly, and left everyone cylinders filled with his semen. It works in the wacky context of the show, and while it’s slightly surprising (to a viewer), it’s the best way to go.

In the case of Batwoman, which has a “long-term future” planned by its producers, their main character can’t simply be killed off or written out. It’s not that simple. Kate still has miles to go in terms of character development, and because she’s a main character (in fact, the main character), it would be difficult to write her out and maintain the integrity of the show.

This is why the role will most certainly be recast. It will be jarring, for sure, to adjust to a brand-new actress playing the part, but ideally audiences will be able to suspend their disbelief just long enough to get used to it. That’s the magic of television: we have many, many episodes of time to accept the change, and soon enough, Ruby Rose will simply be the first actress to play Batwoman, and certainly not the main one.

There are a number of actresses already campaigning to take over the role, and I suspect it will eventually go to one of them (after an audition, I’m sure). And while Ruby Rose is the Batwoman we’re all used to right now, I’m sure we’ll all be blown away by her replacement. I have faith in this show, and after a generally successful first season, I trust the team behind it to make the right casting decision.

But it just simply wouldn’t be sensible to write Kate out of the show. They’ll definitely recast the role, and when they do, I can’t wait to savor those two double-scoop ice creams with all the toppings I can jam on top.

No comments:

Post a Comment