In recent weeks, sexual harassment and assault allegations against some of Hollywood’s biggest names have dominated the news. As an entertainment editor, I’ve read all the accusations and the responses in excruciating detail. Many of the accused are people that I’m fully aware of but, nonetheless, not a fan of. Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl fame, Andrew Kreisberg—executive producer of The CW’s Arrowverse lineup—and One Tree Hill and The Royals showrunner Mark Schwahn are the exceptions for me.
Looking back on how I felt about these three men before allegations were brought against them, I’m not sure I should’ve called myself a fan. I never really knew enough about them to be a fan of theirs. But I was, and still am, a fan of their work. I can’t tell you how many glowing words I’ve written about Chuck Bass, One Tree Hill, The Royals, Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow. These shows and characters shaped my understanding of the world; they influenced how I feel about love, friendship, feminism—the list goes on.
Now that I have an idea of how these men have treated women throughout their professional careers, I can’t look at some of my favorite shows the same way again—and that’s a good thing. I applaud every woman who has come forward to tell her story. I’ve been beating myself up for admiring Westwick, Kreisberg and Schwahn’s work. How could I miss this? But also, how could I have known it? Without the women who were courageous enough to speak up—with everything to lose—we would have no idea about the behavior these men in positions of power have been getting away with. Not only should no victim have to live in silence, but no man should be allowed to harass and assault people with the assumption that it’ll stay secret. I’m grateful to these women for shining a light on the corruption that has made this type of behavior possible and for holding Westwick, Kreisberg, Schwahn and many, many others accountable.
I’ve seen a lot of fans jumping to defend the men who’ve been accused of sexual harassment and assault. I believe in innocent until proven guilty—I can’t fault you there—but I also believe in believing women. We can’t discount or choose not to believe victims just because we’re fans of the accused’s work. Truth be told, we don’t know these men—we know their work. And while their shows may resonate with us, that doesn’t void the allegations against them.
So, where do we go from here? I won’t be boycotting Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, The Royals or any of the Arrowverse shows. Because I think it’s important to uplift the women and men that make these productions great.
There’s Kara Danvers. Melissa Benoist’s take on Supergirl has been such a source of joy and hope for me as a viewer.
Really there are countless women within the Arrowverse to fangirl over: Felicity Smoak, Sara Lance, Caitlin Snow, Alex Danvers, Iris West. Additionally, the actresses behind those characters recently launched a social media initiative called Shethority for women to talk about their lives and support each other.
Brooke Davis. Brooke remains iconic for being a complicated woman we could look up to—raw and vulnerable one minute, tough as nails the next. Sophia Bush has also become an outspoken advocate and trusted voice for women.
All the women and men of One Tree Hill who’ve spoken out and banded together in light of this information becoming public deserve our respect. As the female cast and crew members wrote in a letter, they’ve reclaimed their OTH experience within their friend group and through fan conventions. We can do the same thing.
Blair Waldorf. She had her faults, but her tenacity continues to inspire young women who charge forward to make things happen.
And let’s not forget the women who write, produce, direct, and hold a myriad of other behind-the-scenes positions. Though we may not see their faces, they are just as integral to making our favorite shows possible.
This is likely only the beginning of the swell of sexual harassment and assault allegations we’ll be hearing about. It’s important to not let your allegiance to a fandom skew your perception of the situation, but also not let the wrongdoing of one individual ruin your connection to something you love. Above all else, let’s work to be supportive of the women and men who are telling their stories. Whether they work behind-the-scenes or are the stars of the show, they’re the ones we should be fans of.