Viewers of Gotham — the new TV series from Fox based on the world of Batman long before he donned the cape and cowl — won’t need the Dark Knight’s detective skills to find LGBT visibility or racial diversity. In this reimagining, women of color are depicted in positions of power on both sides of the law, and strong LGBT characters are an essential part of the story from the first episode. Gotham centers on James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) during his early days as a rookie detective in the Gotham City Police Department, but it’s the rich cast of characters that breathes new life into this rendering of the famous fictional city. The inclusion of characters such as the Latina lesbian detective Renee Montoya (played by Victoria Cartagena), GCPD Homicide Squad Capt. Sarah Essen (played by Zabryna Guevara), mob boss Fish Mooney (played by Jada Pinkett Smith), and a surprise reveal of a bisexual character in the pilot episode set a new standard for diversity in a prime-time series based on a mainstream superhero.
“Growing up, I rarely saw people of color or gay people depicted in a positive light, and I know when you don’t see yourself reflected in the world around you, it does things to your self-esteem,” Cartagena says of the importance of a visible lesbian of color in Gotham. “I know if I had seen a character like Renee on TV when I was younger — a Latina who is smart, powerful, and strong — it would’ve encouraged me to dream bigger. So I know what she means to people, and if watching me means that I can help someone else feel included, than that makes me very happy.” — Jase Peeples