Before you all jump on me, I need to clarify. When I say this show is confusing, I don’t mean because of its complexity. I’m not even remotely saying this is the second coming of Lost, in fact the show is just the opposite: pretty straight forward with a few, mostly predictable twists. No, when I say this show is confusing, what I mean is that I can’t figure out why I’m still watching it.
I thought I would’ve finished with the show so early on, and yet every week I find myself still watching, and I can’t figure out why. The acting is the epitome of what I expect from The CW. The casting clearly emphasized looks over actual acting ability, just like every other CW show, including its other DC adaptation, Smallville. One doesn’t have to look further than the protagonist to know what I’m referring to. Stephen Amell was definitely picked for the role because of his model-like looks and his Adonis physique, which the show writers remind us of in every episode by throwing in a scene of Ollie working out topless. He’s basically a mobile action figure with movable joints and kung-fu grip. His acting though is way below par. It’s almost like the guy has only 3 preset facial expressions: (1) the slight smirk, (2): the blank stare, and (3) the super hero scowl. Mr. Potato Head can produce more emotions on his face than this guy. I don’t want to keep slamming Amell, because he’s by no means the only one. With a very few exceptions (John Barrowman and Emily Bett Rickards to name two) all the actors are pretty much in the same boat. This especially applies to the main cast’s biggest addition Colton Haynes (playing Roy Harper) who’s so stiff and bad that he could give Hayden Christensen a run for his money on worst performances. And yet I still watch the show…
Another thing that would normally put me off on a show is the writing, and this show gets pretty offensive with what it considers quality writing. Some of the dialogue is truly cringeworthy, and the few times when it’s not, the writers make it so heavy handed that it ruins whatever quality the scene had. The first example that comes to mind is the conversation in S2E02 between Ollie and Felicity Smoak. Ollie brings her up to his floor in his company and makes her his assistant, which she disapproves of. He explains that he can’t go down 18 floors every time he needs to discuss with her how they’ll be spending their nights and she delivers a pretty good line of dialogue saying, “And I love spending the night with you…” Obviously she meant spending the night helping him be Arrow, but the wording clearly comes out wrong, and it’s a great little joke. Then they go and ruin it by making the joke more obvious and making Felicity countdown from 3 before continuing the conversation. Why couldn’t they just have her say the line, pause for silence with an embarrassed look, and then continue the conversation. Instead, they have her verbally acknowledge the mistake she made and give us the play by play of her recovering from the faux pas. This is just one example of a countless number of similar instances, and yet I keep watching through the cringe.
I think I’ve narrowed down my reason for watching to a couple things. The first is there aren’t many superhero live action tv shows, so it’s fun for fanboys to have something, even if it’s not the best something they could have. I mean, if someone asked me to name my favorite superhero shows, I’m pretty sure I could rattle off 10 animated shows before I mention a single live action show that I would consider to be on the same level of quality (Batman: TAS for the win). Seriously, what have we had in the last two decades? Off hand, I can think of: Season 1 of Heroes (and that’s a show about superheroes, and not a comic book adaptation of a known superhero), The Tick (a show that died too soon RIP), Lois and Clark (had its issues but certainly watchable), Smallville, and that’s pretty much all I can think of (I think there was a Blade series too, but come on, who even watched that). So I think the show gives comic book fans an extra platform to enjoy their favorite characters from, so the sins of the show are forgiven somewhat.
The other thing that makes the show watchable is that the overall story-arc isn’t really that bad, it’s actually, dare I say, kind of good. It helps the show that they have a solid preexisting storyline to work off of, and of course they add a bit of their own crap to add some novelty to the show. Green Arrow’s origin story is actually a pretty good one, and easy enough to film for tv. Rich boy gets stuck on an island where a ton of bad shit happens to him. Rich boy returns to his home town a changed man and decides to fight crime with a bow and non-lethal arrows. From there, the writers just stretch it out, adding interesting plot lines to what happens on the island (Deathstroke trained Green Arrow, WHAAAA?). And they’ve really stretched out Ollie’s evolution into Arrow, extending now into the second season in which he only recently decided to change his alias from The Hood to Arrow, and the subsequent decision to not kill anymore. So you have that, and then you get a bunch of cameos of other characters in the DC universe: Deathstroke (as noted above), Huntress, and (soon enough) The Flash. Finally, the story has shown a slight willingness to kill of quasi-important characters. Sure we’re never going to see Ollie die, or any of his assistants, and probably no one else form his family, but the show has had some interesting deaths that I won’t divulge.
Overall, I’m still confused by the show. For me, the cons of the show clearly outweigh the pros. And it’s not even one of those shows that one would consider to be so bad that it’s good (Airplane Repo on Discovery, anyone?). It’s certainly not a show that I ever recommend to people when they ask me what shows they should start, but it’s also not one of those shows that I vehemently disapprove of when someone says they watch it. I honestly can’t explain why I’m still sitting through it week to week, and this post is becoming an anomaly as well in that I’m neither recommending people watch the show nor telling people not to. Watch it if you want, I guess, but all I can do is wonder why I’m still invested in it (and I am) and also curious as to how many people are in the same boat as me. I really don’t think I’m the only one.