I know, a lot happened last night on Gotham, particularly the gang war set up for the finale of this season, but first, let’s talk about a character whose failure to become more than cardboard is indicative of Gotham’s overall failings.
In all her incarnations, Barbara Kean has never come off well. In the 1970s, she didn’t even have a name, she was simply Jim Gordon’s late wife and Barbara Gordon’s mother. She was finally given life by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano in 1981, in the classic “To Kill A Legend” story in Detective Comics #500. (Brennert complained of receiving no compensation for co-creating Kean when Gotham added her to its list of characters.)
In Batman: Year One, Frank Miller wrote Kean as a long-suffering wife, a pale shade of Detective Sarah Essen, Gordon’s true love. Eventually, the elder Barbara died in a car accident. Sometimes Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon was her daughter, sometimes her niece. More recently, Kean was written as slightly mentally unbalanced due to terrorization by her firstborn, the unhinged Jim Gordon, Jr.
The first reports of Gotham cited Barbara Kean as a doctor, a definite step up in her characterization. I’m not sure what happened to that angle, but instead, we’ve gotten Barbara going from Jim’s supportive girlfriend to drug-addicted girlfriend of Detective Renee Montoya, to passively floating through life, to Selina’s fashion consultant, to outright victim.
[She's pretty in pink...]