Total Nerd You Didn't Realize It, But The CW Has Been Making Great Shows You Should Be Watching  

Hannah Collins
10 items

With networks like HBO, AMC, and Showtime pumping out big hits like Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead, and Homeland, the CW can get lost in the noise. But you shouldn't discount the channel if you're an avid TV viewer, as it's currently home to some of the most creative, socially relevant, and entertaining shows on the air. And, with Riverdale and the Arrowverse, it's also the best place for fans of comic book adaptations.

Beginning life as the WB and UPN in the mid-'90s, early hits like Buffy the Vampire SlayerDawson's Creek, Charmed, 7th Heaven, and Smallville established a two-pronged formula for success: teen dramas and genre TV. Despite the popularity of these cult shows, both channels were waning after their first decade in business. In 2006, they pooled their remaining resources and rebranded under one, unified name: the CW.

Its first schedule encompassed leftovers from the WB (Gilmore Girls, SupernaturalSmallville) and UPN (Veronica MarsEverybody Hates ChrisAmerica's Next Top Model). Soon, the fledgling network produced original hits like The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl, and it's been steadily building a loyal viewership ever since.

Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page.
Jane the Virgin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list You Didn't Realize It, But The CW Has Been Making Great Shows You Should Be Watching
Photo:  The CW

Since premiering in 2014, Jane The Virgin, a show about a woman who chooses to save herself for marriage only to wind up pregnant through a medical mishap, has become the most underrated comedy-drama on the air. It offers complex family dynamics, heartbreak, feel-good moments, and satirical comedy all wrapped in a telenovela package.

And, as Vulture pointed out when it heralded the series as being the best show of 2018, its celebration of Latinx culture and immigrant narratives is particularly important in the current political climate in the US.

Also Ranked

#73 on The Greatest TV Shows for Women

#27 on The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows of the Last Few Years

#53 on The Best TV Shows Returning In 2019

#54 on The Best Female-Led TV Shows

see more on Jane the Virgin
The Arrowverse Is Better Than ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list You Didn't Realize It, But The CW Has Been Making Great Shows You Should Be Watching
Photo:  Invasion!/The CW

With the notable exception of Wonder Woman, DC movies have consistently divided audience and critical opinion since 2013's Man of Steel kicked off the DC Extended Universe. But while these blockbusters have been floundering on the big screen, the CW's own "Arrowverse" has been quietly succeeding on the small one.

Starting with Arrow in 2012, starring DC's emerald archer Green Arrow, the network has added The FlashSupergirlLegends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning to its live-action superhero roster of programming. It's established an interconnected multiverse and churned out regular acclaimed crossover specials like "Crisis On Earth-X" and "Elseworlds." With Batwoman introduced in the latter storyline, things are only getting bigger and better.

Charmed is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list You Didn't Realize It, But The CW Has Been Making Great Shows You Should Be Watching
Photo:  The CW

The original Charmed ran for eight seasons between 1998-2006, casting a lasting spell over its audience. Naturally, fans had mixed feelings when the CW announced it was resurrecting the show in 2018, but the revamped series has proven itself different enough to stand apart from the first iteration. The Charmed Ones have been recast as three sisters of color, and from the very first episode, the reboot establishes its feminist credentials by tackling the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.

Mixing supernatural evil with real-life evil gives the new show the emotional weight that its predecessor often lacked. For proof, look no further than the episode in which Macy, Mel and Maggie discover that a powerful male demon is "feeding off of strong women and draining their strength."

Also Ranked

#52 on The Best TV Reboots & Revivals

#21 on The Best Current TV Shows For Women, Ranked

see more on Charmed
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

With the exception of breakout hits like Glee, the musical genre in episodic TV usually has niche appeal. In the case of Glee, its appeal was partly owed to its savvy covers of well-known pop hits from past and present. That's why, for musical theater nerds, the Golden Globe-winning Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a rare treat. 

Not only are the numbers in each episode completely original, but they reference famous musicals, as well as other genres of music, in fun and catchy ways. But even if you drained all of the song and dance out of it, the tongue-in-cheek humor, sharp writing, and subversive feminist tone make the series well worth watching. 

Also Ranked

#44 on The Funniest Shows on TV Right Now

#94 on The Best TV Shows Returning Fall 2018

#39 on The Best Feel-Good TV Shows

#31 on Really Stupid Shows That Are Actually For Smart People

see more on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend