People can like characters for different things and in different ways, but any time someone says that they liked Iris best in season two because she was a “strong female character” I admit I find myself more than a little skeptical.
For the first half of the season, she was barely a character ON the show, strong or otherwise. (It’s hard to be strong OR weak when you are barely present.) Her story arc with her mother had promise, but it was forgotten for several episodes and, once brought back up, very quickly made about Joe. She popped up every so often to make Barry feel better (such as the episode she gets his dad to come back for him), but when it came to her own grief, she was talked ABOUT more than she was talked TO. “How is Iris doing?” However she’s doing, she’s doing it offscreen!
At least people who say they liked her best in season 1 have her reporter arc to look to. Season 2…she barely existed until the back half, and that’s oddly when I saw many of these people starting to dislike her character again. About the time she started getting actual screen time and the show remembered the story it had written in S1 again. Curiouser and curiouser.
It seems to me that a lot of people who hold up season 2 as the halcyon days for Iris’s character really just like Iris best when she’s as far removed as humanly possible from the overall narrative - and certainly from the hero. And, yeah, that makes any claim that they “really love her BUT…” pretty damn suspect.
I’m sure there are people who don’t really like Caitlin (or Joe, or Wally, or Cisco, or any version of Wells…) who like her best when she’s not around for more than a minute and a half, too.