Once upon a time there was an upstart television network called The CW. Its beginnings were complicated and its name was kinda lame, but The CW network came to capture our hearts, and even our souls. Some critics like to dismiss The CW, saying that it targets younger viewers, all the stars are good looking, and that the seasons pack in a lot of episodes. We say, uh, how are those things a problem? The truth is that The CW has some of the most interesting and innovative shows on TV. The CW is a small but plucky television network. Did we say plucky? We meant awesome. There’s lots to love about The CW—it’s supernatural mythology, comic culture, and dramatic flair.
1. Outstanding supernatural series
Supernatural. We can think of at least 10 good reasons you should be watching Supernatural. Despite its passionate fan base and longevity, Supernatural may be the best-kept secret in television. Supernatural has been on The CW for over a decade, and with good reason. It has engaging stories, great dialogue, strong characters, skillful acting, and fantastic set design. Supernatural centers on the Winchester brothers (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) as they hunt for supernatural creatures. It has great Monster-of-the-Week episodes along with fascinating seasonal story arcs. The strength of the family bond between the brothers grounds the series, but it’s the witty writing and novel approaches to storytelling that make Supernatural the most innovative show on television. If you haven’t gotten hooked on this fantastic series yet, check out our Supernatural Starter Guide to help you figure out where to start.
iZombie. The CW gives us a police procedural with a twist—the main character is a woman! Well, she is a woman, but she’s also a zombie. The series was created by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright of Veronica Mars fame, so you know the writing is good—with funny dialogue, clever cultural references, and emotional moments between characters. iZombie is loosely based on the DC/Vertigo comic book series, but with zombie Liv Moore (Rose McIver) getting her fill of brains through her job in the Medical Examiner’s office. Though iZombie is based on a DC comic, don’t expect any Arrow crossovers because the world of iZombie is more horror than hero. Not all zombies are nice in iZombie; in fact some are pretty creepy, with an emphasis on creep.
The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. Do you like sexy vampires? Don’t lie. We know you do. To get your fix of these brooding undead creatures, The CW gives you not one, but two vampire series. Despite the name, The Originals is actually the spin-off of the long-running series The Vampire Diaries. Both series depict the conflict between vampires, witches, werewolves, and humans.
The Vampire Diaries has more of a romantic focus and a younger cast, with brothers Stefan and Damon fighting over the beautiful Elena. The Vampire Diaries takes an emotional teen drama approach, which their fans love. Let’s face it—no one thinks life is more earth-shatteringly serious than adolescents. A bad decision by a character on The Vampire Diaries won’t just ruin high school, but possibly the next few centuries.
The Originals focuses on family, though their idea of family may be a touch nontraditional since the Mikaelson siblings have been known to trap each other in coffins for decades. The Originals is dark, with some terrifying characters, but it also has some funny, light moments. The murky and morally ambiguous world of The Originals leaves you unsure whom to root for at times, creating a space for some interesting storytelling.
2. The DC Comic-verse
The CW started the trend of well-done comic book adaptions of characters from the DC Comics universe with the popular series Smallville (2001–2011). Though there was a Green Arrow character on Smallville, the CW started fresh with Arrow. With the success of Arrow, the CW expanded comic book offerings with The Flash, and most recently have developed DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will premiere in 2016. There’s a lot of fun series crossover in the DC world, including a recent appearance on Arrow by demon hunter John Constantine from the canceled NBC series Constantine.
Arrow. In 2012 the CW premiered Arrow, a modern retelling of the DC Comics character the Green Arrow. After being trapped on an island in the Pacific for five years, billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returns home to fight crime and corruption through a secret vigilante identity. He’s not afraid to kill people with that bow and arrow. He’s not your typical comic book superhero, and not just because he doesn’t actually have any superpowers. Watch the pilot episode of Arrow and you’ll be hooked.
The Flash. With Arrow doing so well on The CW, it made sense to expand the DC universe with The Flash. Initial appearances by Grant Gustin as Barry Allen on Arrow helped increase excitement about the show’s premiere. The Flash embraces the dark and the light, with fun, comical moments amongst the STAR Labs crew. The emphasis on metahumans, time travel, and parallel worlds in The Flash makes for some very interesting friends and foes.
3. Dramas with just the right amount of fun
The 100. Why aren’t you watching The 100? Is it because the cast is so young and good-looking? Oh, just stop it already. Is it because it’s set in a dystopian society where survivors of an apocalyptic event are struggling to endure? That doesn’t stop you from watching The Walking Dead. The 100 is one of the best shows on television today. It stars a young woman (Eliza Taylor) who is thrust into the role of leader in an unforgiving world. The 100 provides a constantly changing landscape, moral complexity, and unexpected storylines. Just watch it already.
Reign. Imagine if a bunch of hip, glamorous teens got together to make a play about 16th-century France, but left out all the boring parts. Reign is either a teen drama set within a historical context, or it’s a historical program filled with dramatic teens. Either way, it’s pretty fun to watch. It uses just enough actual history to make you want to Google it for accuracy, but not enough that you’d ever mistake it for PBS. Let’s face it; they’ve never had hair and costumes like these on Masterpiece Theatre. Adelaide Kane plays Mary Queen of Scots, Toby Regbo is King Francis II, and Rossif Sutherland plays Nostradamus. That’s right, there’s a Nostradamus character on a CW show. And it all works beautifully.
Jane the Virgin. Jane the Virgin is an innovative adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana La Virgen. The title of this series may leave you wondering if it’s for you, but Jane the Virgin is warm, funny, and clever. It plays up the telenovela drama in an unexpectedly interesting way when a trip to the gynecologist turns the world of Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) upside down. The voiceover narration presents the complicated storylines in a heartfelt but satiric way. Jane the Virgin never takes itself too seriously. If you think you’re too good to watch a soap (uh, you’re not), don’t worry—Jane the Virgin isn’t really a telenovela, it just plays one on TV.
What do you love about The CW? Tell us in the comments.