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The CW’s Best Shows: Ranking the 2016-17 Season

Thanks to The CW’s deal with Netflix, the latest seasons for the network’s slate of shows are now streaming. Which leaves many with the question: Which should show should I catch up with first? And that launches a new series of questions: How did the new season of The 100 go down? How much did Barry change when he initiated Flashpoint on The Flash? Did Jane do the deed on Jane the Virgin?

Now a tradition at The Young Folks, we polled our writing staff to rank almost all of The CW shows from this past season. It’s our way of letting you know how you should prioritize your binge watching this summer.

13. The Vampire Diaries: Season 8

The vampire drama ended its long-run with a shortened final season, consisting of 16 episodes. Losing a lot of steam in its previous season, including the exit of the series’ lead actress, Nina Dobrev, there was little fanfare surrounding the show’s last season. But despite all that, the series finally came out with a bang. As our staff writer, Amanda Hayman, noted her in review, “A perfectly fitting and epic ending to an epic show, The Vampire Diaries couldn’t have gone out any better.” – Gabrielle Bondi

12. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2

When DC’s Legends of Tomorrow debuted, it was easily the weakest of the four superhero shows on the CW. Granted, that’s still very much true, but despite a very shaky and uneven first season, the show really found its groove a few episodes into its second season. It streamlined its plot, didn’t try so hard, and embraced its own insanity and bizarre team dynamic. The show decided instead to have fun and be zany rather than trying, and failing, to take itself seriously. After all, the entire premise of Legends of Tomorrow is built upon a team of misfits (B-side characters from The Flash and Arrow) and once the show came to that realization, it strengthened greatly. To be fair, much of the show’s premise, which is based in time travel and questionable plotting, can be a bit nonsensical and there aren’t quite enough consequences given that they’re messing with time, but if you’re to let all of that go, then Legends of Tomorrow makes for some entertainment.  – Mae Abdulbaki

11. The Originals: Season 4

The latest season of The Originals hasn’t made its way to Netflix quite yet. In fact, there are still a few more episodes to go before it wraps up its fourth season on The CW. Keeping The Vampire Diaries’ world alive on the network, this latest season made some major moves with big developments for certain characters. We get to see just how significantly they will impact these characters when The Originals returns with new episodes on June 2 on The CW. – Gabrielle Bondi


10. Reign: Season 4

After three glorious seasons chronicling Mary’s life in France, Reign has delivered on the shocking (semi-fictional) drama lurking away in the castles. Its fourth season was no different. The arguments, the deceit, the bloodshed and, better yet, the drama were in full force for Reign’s fourth and final story. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to this little royal show that could, but as history has shown, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

The culmination of Mary’s royal life needed to be captured in Reign’s story, and this season is tying off the loose ends. As someone who doesn’t get hooked into history dramas much, the power struggle between Mary, Catherine and Elizabeth has kept me on my toes, as well as the romance between the supporting characters. (It still hurts that Greer and Leith can never just reunite and be together for a happy ever after – I shipped it so much.) While many fans do know what happens to the ruling royals in history, Reign’s final season is a sweet send-off to enjoy. – Justin Carreiro

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9. Arrow: Season 5

If this was 2013 you would be hard pressed to find Arrow ranked outside of the CW’s top five shows. But due to two back to back lackluster seasons (seasons three & four), the show was beginning to fall far behind its superhero counterparts like The Flash and Supergirl. The biggest reason why Arrow was falling behind was due to its failed efforts of trying to incorporate the extraordinary into the ordinary. Arrow is not like The Flash or Supergirl as he has no super speed or super strength; instead it is his ingenuity and smarts which are his biggest strengths. So super villains like Ra’s al Gul (season three) or Damian Darhk (season four), who were focal points in their respective seasons, were villains that did not suit Arrow whatsoever. In season five, the inclusion of a more grounded villain in Prometheus finally helped re-center a show that had lost its way. Then you add in the reintroduction of Deathstroke and flashback sequences that actually mattered, leaving you with the makings of a show deserving of being in the top ten. – Anthony Guivas

8. Supernatural: Season 12

Supernatural has been running for twelve years and presses on with its twelfth season recently ending. Every time it seems like the show might run out of ideas, something new appears to be explored, which is what makes their world so interesting. There’s always another layer to peel back. The Winchesters continue to defy the odds and save countless lives by going on their dangerous adventures. The journey isn’t always filled with joy, but you can be sure that there will be some twists and turns along the way. Not to mention the numerous gray eras the characters face on a day to day basis. Now the brothers must deal with the loss of several people close to them. The Winchesters never seem to catch a break. – Leaf Miranda


7. The 100: Season 4

Despite an unfortunate dip in quality in its third season, The 100 came back stronger (nearly stronger than ever) in its fourth installment. Taking the series well-honed themes of survival and putting their characters to their most ultimate test against the nuclear death wave, we were planted neck deep into the tense and brutal atmosphere. Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia, Monty, Murphy and Raven all got tremendous moments to shine, with this season more than all the rest demonstrating just how far they’d all come since first hitting the ground. Season five is going to be a long wait, but after the tremendously strong season four and the cliffhanger, it left us on with the fates of many of our favorites unknown, it will be worth waiting for. – Allyson Johnson

6. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 3

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is The CW’s hidden gem. By throwing the tropes of both the musical and romantic farce into a blender, creator/star Rachel Bloom finds herself touching on subjects that most comedies would never even approach. It deals with depression, loneliness, anxiety and sexuality honestly, but never cruelly. These are universal problems that we all go through and yet, will deeply repress. Here, our characters don’t only talk about these issues, they sing about them. All of the sudden, the ideas of being the odd one out in a group hang, worrying about other people seeing you differently for being bisexual, or just simply being so angry that you’re…mad, aren’t so scary anymore.

Beyond that, we’re seeing a character arc in Rebecca Bunch that could very well enter Walter White territory by the time we’re all done. It’ll probably have less death, of course, but the final moments of the second season hint that we may be seeing the “crazy” side really start to pop out. – Michael Fairbanks

5. iZombie: Season 3

iZombie has the cliché elements of a teenage show, but it handles them very cleverly. Showrunner Rob Thomas had experience making a strong female protagonist in Veronica Mars, and you can see aspects of her in Liv Moore. She’s funny, smart, and always willing to put herself in danger for her family and friends. Thomas also created a nerdy heartthrob in Ravi, Liv’s boss and close friend at the morgue. He’s proof that men of color can be just as sexy as white men (also, he has a British accent which helps his case even more).

iZombie is a perfect balance of funny and emotional moments. The writers seem to have so much fun coming up with the personality that Liv will take on. From a dominatrix to a grumpy old man, Rose McIver does such a great job of adapting these very different personas. Also, the writers never fail to punch you in the gut with their sentimental moments. Just this season, fans were turning into hot messes when Major was about to lose his memory from the zombie cure.

With all of the darker shows on the CW, iZombie is a breath of fresh air. It’s both creative and funny but leaves room for the more emotional moments. I want to see what Thomas does with this series. I hope it doesn’t get the Veronica Mars treatment. – Yasmin Kleinbart

4. Jane the Virgin: Season 3

From the very beginning this show began to gain buzz, it landed on my radar. I will be honest when I say this is the only show I watch on the CW, but I will still stick to my feelings that it is one of the best. How exactly it fits with a group of shows largely about superheroes and supernatural beings, I wouldn’t know how to answer. Perhaps it is the lovely way Jane uses magical realism to advance some of its telenovela-style storylines. What I can say about Jane the Virgin despite its many shortcomings this season is that it is still a show to root for. Jane might echo some stereotypes at times but as the show has grown into its own, it has transgressed those stereotypes. What the show has always stood firmly by, however, are the Villanueva women. To try to encompass the complexity of individual experiences that being Latinx in this country means could be an overwhelming task to take on; but Jane has always painted the matriarchs of this family with all of their humanity. To continue to see three very different generations of brown women grow, learn, succeed, make mistakes, and subvert the assumptions society has placed on them; subvert existing within the box of their culture and become full human beings is a beautiful gift. – Melissa Linares

3. Supergirl: Season 2

The comic book world is essentially a boy’s club when it comes to on-screen (both TV and film) representation, putting women into the role of damsel in distress, sidekick, or an oversexualized set piece only there to give the men something to fawn over. Supergirl came to save the day and continues to provide an entertaining, endearing and empowering female hero in a world with so few of them being shown. Not just that, but the show takes great care to develop every female character and give them depth and complexity regardless of their good/evil status. Out of the several DC-related shows on the CW, Supergirl is easily the campiest and closest to emulating the comic book universe it comes from.

The term “camp” gets a bad rap, but it is this same quality that made us fall in love with comic books in the first place. In the televised world of Supergirl, camp is essential for the more light-hearted tone needed for its hero. Supergirl, AKA Kara Zor-El, is meant to be ever the optimist, which is a symbol of her true strength. Sure, she has all of the same powers as Superman, but her true strength, and what makes her stand out from the rest of her male colleagues, is the way that she doesn’t let her tragic past define her or jade her life. This show is the beacon of hope we rarely get, and never realized we needed. – Jon Espino 

2. The Flash: Season 3

When Nolan made his Dark Knight trilogy, we all saw how comic books could be adapted into the real world. Sure, it was a good change up, but in the long run betrays its own origins. Since then, the concept has tried to be emulated and that’s how Arrow was born. Not every comic book story needs to be painted with the harsh, real world gray and because of that, The Flash couldn’t come fast enough. The Flash reintroduced some of the more sci-fi/fantasy elements that Arrow shied away from, but at the same time kept a fair amount of the gravity from the show that came before it.

The Flash could best be described as the happy medium between Arrow and Supergirl, offering a some of the best aspects of both world. The campiness we have come to love from the comic book universe as a whole combined with the gravity of the real world. The stories are fun, exciting, and sometimes surprisingly emotional. As a person, Barry Allen is the most relatable of the superheroes since more of his mistakes are made out of love. That’s a tragically human quality we can all understand. – Jon Espino


1. Riverdale: Season 1

Fans of the Archie comics were ecstatic when it was first revealed that The CW would be bringing the classic comic book featuring the adorable red headed boy next door and his two love interests to the channel. However, when the trailer was shown, it was obvious that the show wouldn’t be following the original storyline. Just like every other Archie comic fan, I was doubtful and curious about how much of a creative spin The CW would put on a comic that has been entertaining people for generations. Thankfully, Riverdale has proved itself to be a show that offers just the right amount of nostalgia while artfully creating a mystery that hasn’t lost its intensity after the fifth episode. I’m eager to see the situations the characters will find themselves in when Season 2 arrives. – Leigh-Ann Brodber

We look forward what The CW brings to us in the 2017-2018 season.