Why Arrow Sucks (from someone who watches it religiously)

Dear Reader,

Let’s play a game right now. For every episode of Arrow in which Oliver Queen questions why he “does it”, take a shot. Those of you who played and don’t have alcohol poisoning, keep reading.

Arrow is a show about a billionaire playboy turned brooding and conflicted vigilante superhero, and it has the capacity to be great. It has diverse characters, a compelling setting, and great actors. Unfortunately, each episode is half-assedly written and the characters have no growth. The show is the TV equivalent of junk food. It’s pleasurable, even addictive, but it completely lacks substance. Every season is the same. Bad guy gets introduced, Oliver is conflicted about his identity, has a relationship crisis, the team breaks up, team regroups, villain is defeated, maybe with the death of a side character or two. Every f**king season this happens.

As I mentioned earlier, the characters don’t show any growth. Oliver Queen goes from killing people in the first season to almost killing people in the current season. John Diggle goes from being the designated black bodyguard to being the designated black sidekick. Quentin Lance goes from being a duty-driven detective to being a duty-driven vice mayor. Laurel Lance goes from being an intense justice-driven lawyer with more opinions than sense to an intense justice-driven vigilante with more opinions than sense. Thea goes from being an under-achieving directionless little sister to being an under-achieving directionless vigilante. Felicity Smoak is probably the closest thing to a well-written character that the show has. I’m still trying to figure out why they couldn’t write the other characters as well as they write her.

Let’s forget characters and talk about plot. I understand that for shows to have mass appeal they need to be written at a fifth grade level, but that doesn’t mean that you need to turn your plot into Swiss cheese. Here are some plot points that have annoyed me:

  • Methane is not a poisonous gas and Oliver would not be rash enough to underestimate a supervillain who’d just tortured him for a week (S5E21).
  • Hacking does not look like that (S4E22).
  • The entire plot of “Deathstroke” (S2E18). How is Oliver & Co so damn stupid?
  • Every character that knew Sara Lance was the black canary, but couldn’t even make the guess that Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow.
  • Every time Oliver decides to go into a fight completely unprepared, despite having at least 5 years of experience showing him how bad of an idea that is.
  • Every time they talk about characters having “darkness” to seem edgy and dramatic in lieu of actual character development.
  • Every time ARGUS makes a terribly stupid decision, despite being a seemingly elite paramilitary group. (You setup an ambush for an elite hacker group, but didn’t even prepare for the possibility that they’d figure out where your black-site is?)

I could add more, but I don’t have the energy for it. I think when it comes down to it, the creators know that as long the show has plenty of action and character drama, no matter how contrived, people will still watch it. They can have super smart characters make dumb decisions and create scenarios so physics-defying that even Michael Bay would disapprove. People will still watch, and unfortunately I’m one of those people.


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