How ‘Arrow’ Producers Tackled the Gun Violence Debate

Courtesy of CW

This week’s episode of “Arrow” will feel a bit different.

The show’s latest installment titled “Spectre of the Gun,” which airs Wednesday, tackles the highly-controversial topic of gun control. The conversation in the episode begins after a masked man shoots up the Star City mayor’s office with many of the show’s main character’s inside. Following a press screening of the episode that Variety attended, executive producer Marc Guggenheim said they had wanted to do an episode like this for awhile.

“We went into Season 5 wanting to do an episode about an issue,” he said. “I grew up on ‘St. Elsewhere’ and ‘Picket Fences’ and ‘L.A. Law,’ and I grew up in a time where it was commonplace for a one-hour drama to tackle some of the issues of the day. Somewhere along the line the industry got away from that.”

Guggenheim cited shows like “Black-ish” and “The Carmichael Show” that continue to create episodes that look at current events, but said the majority of network TV shows aren’t. The team went into Season 5 hoping they had earned the freedom to do an episode like tonight’s.

“In 23 episodes of television you can have 22 pieces of candy and one episode of vegetables,” Guggenheim said. “We felt that gun violence was the right topic because of the level of gun violence on ‘Arrow.’ We could have done an episode on abortion, but that’s not really where the show lives.”

The episode also gives a deeper look into the past of Wild Dog — one of the newer members of Team Arrow. The producers said flashing back to Rene’s (Rick Gonzalez) life before becoming Wild Dog felt like the obvious choice.

“He was someone who’s background we really wanted to explore,” executive producer Wendy Mericle said. “He carries a gun and is a natural spokesman for that point of view.”

“We could have done it for any number of characters — there was an appetite for us and the writing staff to do flashbacks from the perspective of one of our recruits,” Guggenheim added. “We know a lot about Curtis (Echo Kellum); Rory (Joe Dinicol) left the team; Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) had betrayed the team — Rene felt like the right recruit, at the right time, and is a character whose whole super heroics revolve around guns.”

Taking on such a divisive topic, a question was raised about how the studio reacted to the idea. An episode like “Spectre of the Gun” runs a higher risk of receiving notes that seek to make the show offend the least amount of people. According to Guggenheim, they couldn’t have been more ready to play ball.

“We told them we wanted to do a gun violence episode and they said ‘Great,'” he said. “Nothing was compromised. This is very much the episode we wanted to do.”

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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  1. Jeremy says:

    Season 5 Episode 13 officially marks the end of my watching of this show. I refuse to watch any television show in which the holier than thou elite decide to use their TV show as some sort of social justice warrior forum. The fact that “Arrow” of all shows decides to take a stance on gun control is insane but the hypocrisy of the left is completely lost on the left. I hate that the morons that write the show decided to ruin a fun escape show with stupid political bullshat. No more Arrow for me. I guess it’s time to find some other show for the insane left to ruin.

  2. Scott Sherman says:

    I was a big fan of Arrow. That is until this episode. If you are going to talk guns then you should at least get your facts straight. An assault weapon is a fully automatic weapon. An AR-15 is NOT fully automatic as you portrayed in this episode. It is SEMIAUTOMATIC. The difference is that AR-15 only fires one round per trigger pull. An assault weapon, with one trigger pull, fires round after round until the trigger is released. If you are too lazy to do a little research and correctly portray the AR -15 platform you should probably refrain from writing episodes that have to do with issues which are such a hotly contested subject. Passing on your ignorance is wrong and I for one will do everything I can to bring this to light. So please print this in your liberal rag but do so without editing one word.

    • Scott Shurman says:

      Actually, there’s no such thing as an assault weapon. What you mean is an assault rifle. Or did you miss when Rene corrected Curtis? If you are too lazy to do a little research and correctly portray the assault rifle you should probably refrain from writing comments that have to do with issues which are such a hotly contested subject.

  3. Erica Pelz says:

    If you are going to tackle real issues, knowing a few real facts might help. Like how hard it actually is to get full auto weapons. Two ex military team members would know a whole lot about guns that your producers don’t. “Land of the free and home of the incredibly stupid.” sounded like Curtis was commenting on the writing staff and producers. I have overlooked a lot of really bad gun info on this show, because it’s fiction, but if you are going to pretend to teach, you have to learn first. Arrow jumped the shark.

  4. Paul says:

    Ridiculous episode and so unbalanced with misleading information. It’s not “the city’s” job to protect us. You can paint protect and serve on a police car but they only get calls after the fact not before. Rene’s twin auto pistols will do twice the damage the AR would have. Even a full auto 5.56 was specifically chosen by the military to wound NOT KILL. On average because it takes more solders off the battle field to help the wounded back to the rear for treatment. True story which is the reason Russia just followed suit with the their “big scary rifles” as well. Pretty sad with the writers. May just have to give up on the show. Can’t take the double standard. The arrow should give the regular guy hope.

  5. I was offended. The inaccuracies the incorrect comparison to real military rifles. The clearly political bent towards gun control it was overall truly pathetic and you literally just lost a viewer permenantly

  6. aolani08 says:

    I thought it was a great episode full of a lot of action. The show hit a huge topic on guns and it was refreshing to see how the show is able to balance out his Mayor duties with Arrow duties. The Rene back story was huge and made me like his character more. I quit watching after the Olicity break up because they moved on too quickly. The writers could have kept the action of this season with them in a healthy relationship. Felicity would call Arrow on his crap instead of sneaking behind his back like Susan. I know the show is trying to mislead the viewers about Susan’s intentions she is not going to betray him like they want us to believe. I’m still going to record the Arrow and watch later so I can fast forward through the Susan and Oliver scenes. I’m looking forward to the much needed intervention the team is going to have to have with Felicity.

  7. RIP Arrow says:

    That was my last episode of arrow… couldn’t even finish it.

  8. Blake Reikofski says:

    It is fine to tackle the issue, but it should be done with some fact checkers from both sides, and without fear of angering either side. Take off the kid gloves and really take up both sides of the debate.

    • aolani08 says:

      I agree with you too gun control is a major topic in society the way the show covered it wasn’t nearly enough however real life can’t even deal with the issue.

      • Christopher says:

        I had recorded this episode and just watched the first part. I had to stop it when I was called “… incredibly stupid!” I was so miffed, that I was going to comment on it. Thank you commenters for speaking facts, unlike the show.

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