Ten years ago the face of television dramatically changed forever with the launch of The CW. What began as a merger between The WB and UPN has evolved into a fan-favorite Island of Misfit Television Shows where superheroes, vampires, and evenundead coroner’s assistants are given time and space to develop and thrive.
Aside from their impressive slate of slightly off-center yet immensely entertaining programming, the CW is just… cool. Despite its nascent existence, the network has transformed itself into the brooding bad boy of television: intriguing, potentially dangerous, yet inexplicably mesmerizing… kinda like season one Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries.
And just like Damon, The CW has staked its claim on the television landscape by offering programs that appeal to a wide variety of viewers. Do you like superheroes? Awesome. The CW has entire nights dedicated to our masked and unmasked heroes. How about supernatural thrillers? Okay. No problem. They literally have a show named after the genre. Satirical romantic comedies, musical enchantment, former Lost star Henry Ian Cusick? Yep, you bet, and you better believe it, brotha (insert your own Desmond accent). The CW’s got it all in spades, my friend!
Let’s celebrate this monumental TV anniversary by taking a look at 5 CW shows that changed the face of television!
Photo: The CW
First things first: Rachel Bloom is an avalanche of charm and her likeness should be chiseled next to George Washington on Mount Rushmore posthaste. Saddled with a provocative title, viewers didn’t quite know what to except whenCrazy Ex-Girlfriend premiered last year, but the first ten minutes of the pilot loudly and melodically set the stage for one of the most delightful shows on television as Rebecca Bunch decides to leave the professionally stifling and personally underwhelming metropolis of New York City for West Covina, California after a brief encounter with her old camp boyfriend, the affably clueless Josh Chan.
Much like its network neighbor Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend helped eschew the antiquated notion that comedy needs to be packaged in 22 minute morsels as opposed to 40-43 minute feasts. Think The CW is just for the 14-24 crowd? Nope! Much like Candyland, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an experience that can be enjoyed by all ages.
Oliver Queen certainly did not fail The CW. The network reached deep into its development quiver and pulled out a storytelling gem when Arrow premiered in 2012. After a debut season that boasted cinematic quality fight scenes and a wealth of interesting, three-dimensional characters, the buzz around that online water cooler known as the internet was that Arrow wasn’t just “CW good,” oh no, it was good good.
The series grew more confident as it progressed. Its flair for audacious storytelling was made evident in surprising character deaths and multiple season finale level cliffhangers embedded into every season. The Buffy the Vampire-esque chemistry between the cast — specifically Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle — helped the series reached new heights as it became fair to wonder if the best superhero story was being told not in theaters but on television.Arrow’s success helped pave the way for the smorgasbord of superhero shows currently residing inside your DVR.
Photo: The CW
According to my research, Supernatural will be entering its 99th season next month when it returns with all new episodes on The CW. Just kidding, but the series will be airing its eleventh season as it surpasses the 250 episode mark. There are people reading this who weren’t even born when the series premiered on The WB back in 2005. If you are one of those said people, finish reading this article and then go finish your homework. It’s what Sam and Dean would want.
Following in the footsteps of everyone’s favorite vampire slayer (my apologies, Faith), Supernatural helped cement the now prevalent B-grade action/horror/comedy/supernatural trend by paving the way for paranormal programs like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood.
Photo: Everett Collection
Gossip Girl wasn’t just a show; it was a phenomenon. It seems silly now, but at the time a cadre of affluent teenage Upper East Siders who liked to drink and have sex was hashtag SCANDALOUS. Actually, it wasn’t technically hashtag anything since hashtags didn’t exist in their current state, which makes me feel hashtag OLD.
Watching Gossip Girl felt like an indulgence; the second sliver of cheesecake of television shows. It not only pushed the envelope in terms of sexuality but it did so with confidence. The series’ influence not only permeated through the fashion industry, but it also inspired its own reality series, NYC Prep, which briefly aired on Bravo back in 2009.
Photo: Everett Collection
Kristen Bell didn’t invent the “female outsider with a trenchant wit and irreverent humor” protagonist, but she did perfect it on Veronica Mars. As any true Marshmallow — aka Veronica Mars fan — worth their secret spy pen will tell you, the third season of this cult classic premiered during the first year of The CW. Armed with a never-ending array of one-liners and encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture, Veronica Mars made being an outsider cool. Fans were so adamant that the story continue that they donated over $5.7 million on Kickstarter to fund the 2014 film.
The long line of strong female characters left in Veronica Mars’ super sleuthing wake is no coincidence. Now, who do we have to dig up some dirt on (courtesy of Keith Mars, naturally) to get a Veronica Mars movie sequel?