The CW Is Specializing in Stories That Don’t Need to Be Told
The CW’s programming lineup is nothing short of diverse, featuring everything from superheroes to period pieces. Shows like Arrow and The Flash have been staples in their extended DC comic book universe, while The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have hung around to please their decidedly tween-ier audience. Moving forward though, their planned shows seem to be getting crazier and crazier. It began with the announcement for Legends of Tomorrow, the superhero team-up show based on tertiary heroes from The Flash and Arrow. From there, it only escalated.
First, we had the announcement for a planned “gritty, dystopic” Little Women reboot. Next on the agenda: A full series for Friday the 13th, a rework of The Notebook, and a modern live-action adaptation of the Archie comics. The sum total is a collection of shows that goes far beyond their well-guided superhero ambitions, and into territory that does more to raise eyebrows than excitement. It’s one thing to revive beloved properties with a timely reboot. It’s entirely another to take something like Friday the 13th, a film saga with 10 installments and a long since canceled TV series, and to try and make that into yet another series.
Or take The Notebook for example. No one saw the Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation and immediately thought “man, that ending was so open-ended, I wonder when the next one is coming?” That of course hasn’t stopped the CW from adapting it into yet another one of their ill-advised upcoming series. And all this is without even mentioning the fact that they’re planning a gritty rework of Little Women, based on a movie that was little more than a coming-of-age period piece. It’s an odd trend that doesn’t seem to be following any sort of logic, transitioning the network out of creative yet bold ideas and into patently strange ones.
It could be that the network has been emboldened by recent risks that have paid off in spades. Back when Arrow debuted, there was a fair amount of doubt surrounding a show about a little-known DC character that wasn’t Superman or Batman. It didn’t take long before the CW reaped the rewards, boasting one of the most-watched shows on network television, followed soon after by the even more successful Flash. All the while, mainstays like Supernatural continued to get more meta, obscure, and popular. To their credit, the CW has been a proving ground for shows that otherwise never would have seen the light of day.
That said, not all ideas are created equal. Arrow and The Flash came into play right in the midst of the superhero craze we exist in now, while Supernatural has had an entire decade to build its audience from the ground up. Even the critically acclaimed Jane the Virgin saw success, based loosely on a Venezuelan telenovela. While the network has the track record to earn some modicum of trust from viewers, its upcoming lineup does little to ease our collective doubts. Envisioning a world where a gritty Little Women or another try at a Friday the 13th TV series is anything but misguided is a tall order.
With TV and movies nowadays fixated on reboots and sequels, it’s certainly no surprise that networks like the CW have finally reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of material. Now that we’ve reached that point though, it’s time to see what they can do with some original ideas. Their network mainstays won’t be around forever, and their next generation of shows will be the one counted on to shoulder the load. The only question that remains is whether or not they actually can.
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