TV, Venue

The CW Network: Connoisseurs of Teen Trash

The CW Network is one of the biggest television networks, but it’s infamous for trashy shows.

It’s brilliant at giving us first seasons which know how to grip an audience, but that’s where it ends. They then go downhill at breakneck speeds. Maybe that’s harsh, but, sometimes, CW shows don’t know how to quit when they’re ahead.

Take Supernatural for example, which aired for 15 years. 15 years! With 15 seasons, it’s no surprise it lost a huge amount of its following. The average viewership for season 15 was 1.63 million, which sounds like a lot, but compared to season one’s viewership – 3.81 million – it’s clear something went wrong along the way. What started as a show about two brothers trying to track down their missing father, killing ghosts and vampires along the way, turned into the brothers attempting to kill God. I started watching it around 2015, and I loved it, but by 2018, I had to give it up. After forgetting most of season 13, I had to admit it had gotten stale. I really wanted to keep loving this show, but by 13 seasons, Sam and Dean had already died and come back to life countless times, and they repeatedly faced off with the ‘big bad’ to the point where suspense was non-existent.

There was nothing new, nothing exciting, and I’m not surprised! 15 years is a long time of trying desperately to hold on to what was once a good thing, especially if the writers can’t maintain continuity – it ends up becoming a confusing, unsalvageable mess. The only thing that really kept me going was the impeccable soundtrack it used – Carry On My Wayward Son will forever be in my heart.

Now, for a more recent CW show. Riverdale. That dumpster fire of a show which has, somehow, been renewed for a sixth season – which I only discovered whilst writing this article. With lines such as, “I’m weird. I’m a weirdo”, “I’m cuckoo bananas for you” and “I beg your misogynistic pardon”, I don’t think anyone can watch it with a straight face. It’s a desperate attempt to relate to Gen-Z, but as most of the crew are several generations older than the target audience, it’s no surprise that they miss the mark. Riverdale produces an airbrushed version of teenagers, with their incredibly expensive clothes, their perfect skin, and the way they speak – which is probably why the time jump happened, because they’re unbelievable as teenagers.  They attempt to create relatable, and likable characters, but it’s clear how out of touch they truly are.

Of course, not every CW show is bad. Rather than attempting to be relatable, Dynasty encourages us to laugh at the ridiculousness of the upper classes and their misfortunes. Their messiness creates drama and intrigue, whereas the messiness of ‘relatable’ teen shows like Riverdale causes confusion and cringe.

The CW Network needs to look at which shows teens are finding comfort in, or genuinely enjoying. It’s not enjoyable when your ‘teenagers’ are 20-something year olds with flawless skin and impeccable hair. Rather than the ‘woke’ lines being relatable, they’re turned into memes because they’re so off.

The CW Network also needs to learn when to stop. Supernatural didn’t need to last for 15 years. Riverdale doesn’t need a sixth season. Maybe the CW needs more young writers and producers, or maybe their staff just need to pay attention to what’s being said online. Either way, something needs to change if the CW wants to be known as more than just connoisseurs of teen trash television.

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Louise Collins

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September 2021
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The University of East Anglia’s official student newspaper. Concrete is in print and online.

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