The Problem With The CW – Opinion

“You look like the attractive yet non-threatening racially diverse cast of a CW show.”   – Cat Grant, Supergirl

In the high school I attend if you’re watching TV, it is almost always either a raunchy comedy like How I Met Your Mother, or a show on The CW. The Flash, Arrow, and Riverdale are among the most popular choices. Yes, The CW’s target audience is teenagers, so I’m ignoring the melodrama glut, but another issue with the network is the lack of ambition and untapped potential in its programming. Before we go any further, I’d just like to come out and say I’m not a CW aficionado, I’ve only seen iZombie, Riverdale and a season and a half of The Flash. While there was plenty of great stuff in all three series, the problems that occur are very similar.

My biggest critique of these three shows is the lack of ambition. iZombie is a fantastic concept with witty and likable characters, but hardly ever goes out of its mystery of the week narrative to develop a season long arc.

The Flash, Green Arrow, and Supergirl are great characters, played by great actors (Grant Gustin, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist), with great source material, but the biggest issue I find is that The CW spends more time trying to appease its comic book viewers by remaking popular stories than actually developing its own universe. While Riverdale is only through seven episodes at the moment and has a lot of promise, it constantly goes back to its Archie Comics source material, makes dumb pop culture references, and develops stories rather quickly instead of letting them flow properly.

Another very apparent problem is in the characters. In all three series that I have watched the characters are consistently uninteresting. They seem to rarely have actual flaws. Why would the characters need flaws you ask? Don’t you want to like them? Yes, I want to like them, but the most likeable characters normally have fascinating flaws. For example, in the critically acclaimed Buffy the Vampire Slayer there is a character named Xander. Xander is witty, charming, and brave, but unlike most protagonists in the show Xander does not have any powers. He can’t cast spells or fight supernaturally like others in the show, and over the course of seven seasons he has to coup with this fact by moving away from his friends’ world and taking a sort of cheerleading role in the gang. That’s an example of a flaw that enhances a character to a great degree. Had Xander been given a power he would have been far less interesting.

The CW’s characters never have fascinating imperfections. This has been the case in all episodes of Riverdale thus far and the first season and a half of The Flash, and was ultimately the reason why I stopped watching Flash. Barry Allen can never do anything wrong, and if he does, the show spends thirty minutes telling us how bad the thing he did was but in the last ten minutes we find out how good it turned out to be. I understand that Barry is a super hero and they normally don’t have real imperfections, however The Flash could create a situation where Barry is to dedicated to fighting crime and it destroys him or it’s too dangerous for him to fight. Destroying the timeline with close to zero personal implications is just sloppy writing.

In Riverdale, this has also been the case. Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead haven’t done anything legitimately wrong yet, except for Betty’s odd scene in which she nearly drowns a guy in a hot tub. Archie also slept with a teacher, an undisputedly bad thing. Sleeping with teachers is not the same as sleeping with other students. This is an example of where The CW could have gone further with an interesting character premise. They could have said, “Hey, Archie is sleeping with a teacher, that’s pretty strange. Maybe Archie is a creepy sex pervert.” Instead of doing this, Riverdale just gives Archie and Ms. Grundy a slap on the wrist and heartfelt goodbye.

The only exception to this trend rule is iZombie. iZombie has guts when it comes to the characters. Blaine is a sinister evil force is season one and yet he is my favorite part of the show. Ravi is smart and caring but he lives in hard world and must break some rough news to Liv on multiple occasions. Major is nice, athletic and charming but he also cheats on his girlfriend at one point. Lastly, the main character Liv does a good job having a mission in life but if she hears any negative news can slow down and drown herself in too much sorrow.

Overall, The CW has a lot of untapped potential and should take risks in characters and stories in order to become the great network it can be.


6 thoughts on “The Problem With The CW – Opinion

  1. The only CW shows I really love are iZombie and Jane the Virgin. I love the characters and dialogue in former and I honestly do think it does a good job developing season-long arcs (Major’s arc in S1 for instance) even if it is a procedural first. Jane is really different from the typical CW show. Not sure if it’d be up your alley, but I really like it. I threw in the towel on some of the other CW shows for some of the reasons you point out here though.

  2. The only CW show I watch is Supernatural since its that lone holdover from 2006, which makes it different enough from the other shows on the CW to merit watching.

    I’m older, and while I have no issue with what’s shown on that station, I know I’m also not the targeted audience for any of these even though I’m a comic book fan. A lot of the shows skew too young for my tastes, and there’s a sameness to the cast and plots that makes the shows look interchangeable.

    But you are right though. Most of the shows outside of maybe Jane the Virgin and iZombie, are pretty non-challenging socially and intellectually. But that’s okay. Sometimes you need some light TV watching. I just wish they’d add a couple more shows with more gravity.

  3. The “CW” effect is pretty prevalent in other Chanel’s too. The faux soap opera effect can suck the life out of otherwise brilliant and interesting shows.

    I’ve been watching The Magicians lately, and every episode is able to walk the line and not fall over into the dreaded “Season 4 of Arrow” zone that has spelt death for so many other shows.

    I honestly wonder just what about this style of writing appeals to viewers, or writers for that matter. It feels so lifeless and uninspired. I’d feel so drained writing a show in tht style.

  4. Supernatural seasons 1 to 5 were awesome. Plenty of flawed characters for you there. I really liked the first couple of seasons of Arrow too, but then it got soapy, as did The Flash. I would agree that most of the content on this channel is dramatically vacant. So far, I’ve been enjoying I Zombie, but I’m only part way through season 1.

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