Grumpy Bird Reviews: Arrow

The new season of Arrow has started. I haven’t watched it yet. I might get to it. Maybe. But I have to get this off my chest first.

Arrow is not a good show. There. I’ve said it. And I feel good about admitting it. I’ve looked around online and it seems there is a fairly consistent sentiment that season 1 of Arrow was decent but season 2 was great. I don’t know why folk feel that way. I’m fairly certain that both seasons are “meh”, but only when I feel generous.

Yes, art is subjective. We all have opinions and no opinion is more valid than another. Is what we tell children to keep them from fighting, but we all know lots of opinions that are stupid. I’m sure somewhere in the wide world there is a person that feels Limp Bizkit is more influential than the Beatles (two bands chosen at random due to having uniquely spelled names.) Feel free to leave a comment if you think that is not a stupid statement.

Now, I don’t want to just throw out pejoratives about how Arrow is stupid stinky booboo TV. I want to try and politely explain what I consider to be the show’s failings. But to start off, I want to praise it just a little.

More and more DC seems to be ashamed of it’s movie properties actually being based on comic books. Bright colors are muted. Hopeful and optimistic characters become jaded. I’m a little surprised capes are still attached. However, Arrow seems to be fully prepared to role around in all the comicbookness they can slap all over itself. Yes, they do avoid actual calling the hero “Green” Arrow and he is a young, sexy man rather than a middle-aged-at-best van-dyke wearing ultra liberal railing against fat cats. God, that would be great. And, yes, most of the characters shown are gritty and driven. But I want to give them some praise, so I’m going with them being proud of hailing from four-color media.

Now onto the bad.

First off, there’s the acting. It isn’t that everyone on the show is bad, it is just that there is so much not-good happening it becomes distracting. God bless the actress that plays Laurel, but whenever she talks I have to wonder how many other actresses they auditioned. But she isn’t the only one. So many main characters just stand there and talk as if everything they have to say is so very important even if they have nothing of value to say.

So, maybe that isn’t an acting thing, its a writing thing. Arrow is definitely of the school of “stand around and monolog at each other” school of writing. It seems to be very popular among other shows that wish to make their main characters look self righteous and overly pious. Or whatever it is when they always think their right and want to make other characters feel bad. This style of writing has the benefit of letting you know exactly what a character thinks. It has the added benefit of not needing to script actual, realistic, human dialog. Plus, if a character just states what they think, the way we all do in real life, you never have to worry about your audience being lost because they couldn’t pick up on subtext. Just to be clear, I am not saying those who watch arrow are dumb. I am saying those writing it think their audience is dumb.

I used to do community theatre. It was great. Loved it. Want to do some more some day. Back to the point. In one show the director asked us to state in one word what best summed up our part. After practice we argued that having a character being realistically summed up in one word makes for a boring, one-note character. But, this show, seems to really love the use of one word characters. Okay, maybe for some you would need a hyphen partly because the main hero and villain are basically driven-good driven-bad. Any moral complexities that might arise gets dealt with in straw man fashion. Just watch the Huntress episodes to see some major glossing over.

But what do you want? Its a CW show. At least that seems to be a common defense. And yes, this is a CW show. Or at least this a nighttime soap opera dressed up in tights and a quiver. It is essentially about really, super rich people having rich people problems and complaining about it. There are even a few token poor folk for them to be attracted to. Also they are young and attractive and more successful than any of us are now without any real reason. (By the way, wasn’t the little sister in high school that first season? How did that work?) Next episode you watch, forget all the super heroic stuff tacked on like window dressing and just watch majority of the plots. Straight out of any season of Melrose Creek 902010. Throwing some violence into the standard formula does not make it a quality product.

I also have to bring up the really pretty person factor. Everyone in the show is really pretty. And really well groomed. Except, of course, for the tasteful amount of stubble. I should be used to eye candy as a method of promoting a show, but I’ve seen to many good programing with “TV normal” looking people that I can’t help but find the barrage of beauty a little insulting. I guess I can be happy that it doesn’t fall into the “ugly equals bad” trap that I felt was in Brooklyn 99. And also that the show doesn’t try to tell us that the computer girl is a nerd and therefor unattractive. Or did they in the first season? I can’t remember. But then I think of Amanda Waller. If you don’t know what Amanda Waller is supposed to look like then you are missing out on one of the most unique characters in comics that then got flushed away in the New 52 and shows like Arrow.

I don’t know. Maybe it is just me. But still, I think about the acting, the characters, the storylines and I wonder, why is this regarded as good?

4 thoughts on “Grumpy Bird Reviews: Arrow

  1. The first time I watched Arrow, I hated it, and I agree with a lot of what you say here. I watched it when it premiered and then gave up on it around the middle of the first season. I tried it again recently, and the second time around I enjoyed it a lot more. It’s possible the second half of the first season was just a lot better to me, but who knows. I tend to like things that no one else does, and hate things that everyone else loves.

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    It does get a little better at the end. I remember enjoying the sections when they were on the island trying to figure things out. I’ll admit that since Spartacus I have a soft spot for the actor who plays Deathstroke and that second half is about him being awesome. But then the island turned into more of the soap opera drama.

    I think I’m also guilty of not liking things others do, but I’m trying to deny that. Or at least come up with explanations as to why.

  3. Arrow took up speed towards the end of the first season, started very promising in the second…and then just dissolved in a mess which became a chore to watch. Biggest problem? Circular writing. If I never see another love triangle again it would be too early.

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