The merged successor to The WB and UPN, The CW is a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros. Since its debut in 2006, the network has had its growing pains, but it was still at the forefront of the teen melodrama with shows such as Gossip Girl, 90210, and The Vampire Diaries.
In recent years, though, the network might as well have been known as the superhero show channel, home to DC comic adaptations including Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash. Yet aside from these anchors, in addition to the blockbuster Supernatural, the network’s lineup also currently includes a number of compelling series that are not getting the attention they deserve.
Every so often, there is a piece of pop culture that makes you feel truly seen. For me, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one such show. Its depiction of Jewish female anxiety is part of my favourite growing niche in media, alongside the hysterical Broad City, Amazon’s recent The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, as well as elements of other shows like Transparent and unREAL.
Co-creator Rachel Bloom, previously best-known for the viral YouTube parody song “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury,” is wonderful as Rebecca Bunch, a New York corporate lawyer who moves to West Covina, California in pursuit of a former summer camp fling. Rebecca’s delusional pursuit of happiness, in the form of Josh Chan, is initially both cringe-worthy and riveting, but the viewer soon begins to feel real empathy for the show’s clearly damaged protagonist.
Despite being a critical darling, CXG is one of the lowest-rated shows on television, having taken the bottom spot in fall rankings for each of the three years it’s been on the air. The show is simply not reaching enough people — a true shame, since it includes a brilliant ensemble cast, clever musical numbers, and one of the best portrayals of mental illness on television.
CXG effortlessly moves between genres to pursue its ultimate goal: a deconstruction of the societal norms of romance. I could write essays on its use of musical parodies, but instead I will direct you to a couple of my recent favorites: “Let’s Have Intercourse,” a pitch-perfect Ed Sheeran mockery, and “The End of the Movie,” which warns against treating your life as a straightforward narrative — with the use of a killer cameo. To say nothing of classics like “Friendtopia,” “Fit Hot Guys Have Problems Too,” and “Let’s Generalize About Men.”
Not far ahead of CXG in the ratings is Jane the Virgin, my go-to recommendation anytime someone asks me what they should watch next.
Jane the Virgin begins with a ridiculous premise — literally ‘straight out of a telenovela’ — as Jane, who planned on waiting until marriage to have sex, is accidentally artificially inseminated.
Despite this absurd starting point, I haven’t seen anything else on TV that can compare in terms of heart. The show’s quirks, such as its omniscient narrator known as the Latin Lover and its tendency to indulge in plot twists like evil twins and child kidnappings, belie its core: a smart and often touching portrayal of love, life, and family.
I haven’t even mentioned the post-apocalyptic drama The 100, or Riverdale, the show we are all growing to love to hate. Suffice it to say that treating The CW as solely the domain of Greg Berlanti is both an incorrect assumption and one that’s a shame. Behind the archery, capes, and lightning bolts are a handful of series that are well worth the watch.
Overlooked is a recurring feature in the Arts & Culture section where writers make the case for pieces of culture that don’t get the attention they deserve. To contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org.