After Daredevil, I Will Never Watch Arrow Again

Originally posted at Black Nerd Problems

Word to God, I will never watch Arrow again.

Let me rewind a minute.

This past weekend was the first weekend of spring weather in New York City, and instead of running through Central Park or eating ice cream from the street vendors that appeared like spring flowers, I spent 13 hours indoors watching Daredevil. And I regret nothing. Daredevil is — and I don’t say this lightly — the best superhero show ever made.

Expectations of the Netflix series were mixed as most fans didn’t know what to expect, which is rather understandable given the previous butchery of the character in the 2003 film. In this new rendition — the “dark and gritty” remake, as everyone is keen to call it — Daredevil offers exposition that is effectively an origin story, yet without ever feeling like one. Its outstanding writing makes it a series not only a staple for comic fans, but also for any casual Netflix viewer who decided to see what this whole thing was about. In fact, the casual viewer might even enjoy it more thanks to the amazing portrayal of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin, played by Vincent D’Onofrio.

D’Onofrio’s performance is worthy of incredibly high praise, making a nuanced, compassionate interpretation of a character that would have been easy to minimize into a simplistically evil, brutish goon. Instead, D’Onofrio — and the writers, much to their credit — gambled to give us a man of both dubiousness and vulnerability. Wilson Fisk was emotional, polite, and somehow one could even use the word “compassionate” to describe a man who literally beat someone to death with his bare hands. Wilson Fisk is a man in love, and one who spoke so passionately that he often convinced me, the viewer, of his moral conviction. He was a villain so well written that you likely found yourself cheering for him.

What if you’re a viewer who’s less interested in thoughtful writing and more for sheer action? What stands out most from Daredevil are action sequences with fight choreography that outperforms most movies, let alone other television series. Where most Hollywood fight scenes include a gang of goons who are hit by a combo and knocked out never to rise again, we have scenes like Season 1, Episode 2 of Daredevil where they keep getting up, and an exhausted Matthew Murdock tears into each contender repeatedly in what felt like a ten-minute scene against real people who can actually take a punch. Rotating cameras and ever-present darkness keep you wondering from where the action will begin, and the leeway Netflix allows for types of violence typically held from network TV.

Daredevil has depth, compelling characters, thoughtful writing, and subtle references recognizing the larger Universe, which is where I need to switch gears —

Word to God, I will never watch Arrow again.

I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care. That show has far surpassed mere disappointment and has devolved into sheer disregard for the audience, recycling story plots and diluting episodes with flashbacks that feign depth while being none other than thinly-veiled cheap and boring filler. In an email from one of my closest friends, I laughed through a rant from his sudden frustration as he became fed up with the show before I had:

Days after being betrayed and blackmailed by Merlin, now he and Ollie are going to team up? Merlin is weaker than Ra’s al Ghul, and that’s the whole reason he sent Ollie. And now Ollie’s like “teach me how to beat him?” OLLIE, IF HE HAD KNOWN HOW TO BEAT HIM HE WOULDN’T HAVE USED OOLONG TEA TO HYPNOTIZE YOUR SISTER. Merlin can’t beat Ra’s al Ghul, what’s he going to tell you? Why is any of this happening?

He continued his diatribe, ending somewhere with “Fuck this show,” and “the good just doesn’t outweigh the bad anymore,” and it made me wonder whether a completionist like me could ever walk away mid-series myself.

Arrow and Daredevil aren’t in direct competition, I know. I could watch both, and a myriad of other things, or nothing at all. You might find it unfair to compare the two and you probably have a fair point, yet I find the two shows comparable in what they attempt to do, and can’t help but use one to help inform my opinion on the other:

Both shows are dark and depict a character struggling with the challenge of saving their city, weighing the morality of murder and wanting to stop villains without becoming what they hate. Both use flashbacks as an exposition device to explain their years of their becoming a hero. Both are hero shows with dramatic action scenes; both are interconnected with a larger universe; the list goes on.

Yet Daredevil makes Arrow look… well, like crap. The Flash is in the same universe as Arrow, yet I enjoy Barry Allen as much as ever because I truly enjoy the characters and story — even with the same network-TV restrictions — and because The Flash is distinct enough not to draw the admittedly unfair comparison. The result for Arrow, on the other hand, is that it’s practically unwatchable now, like eating a gourmet burger and having to go back to White Castle. Save for the charm of Felicity Smoak I can’t imagine it to be enjoyable anymore, and I’ve come to a simple realization in my entertainment-loving world: there’s no reason to stay with bad shows anymore. No incentive whatsoever.

Our options are so vast now, any time we waste on a bad show is time we could be spending on a much better one currently airing. We were far more likely to ride with that up-and-down network drama in the past — say, a decade ago —  for lack of better options, but that was a decade ago and entertainment has come an astoundingly long way in a remarkably short time. Cable and online streaming have afforded us more TV shows than ever before, by an amazing margin. Arrow wasn’t always “bad” to me — I absolutely loved season two — but how long do I allow myself to chase that high for over 20 episodes a season?

And so I’m finally dropping Arrow — long past due, to be perfectly honest — because there’s nothing like a good experience to shine light on one that has become so bad, and Daredevil is that reminder. It’s my time to walk away, and I’m walking straight to Hell’s Kitchen by way of Westoros with a pitstop in Central City. And then I should probably make time to enjoy spring.

35 thoughts on “After Daredevil, I Will Never Watch Arrow Again

  1. Good for you that you can make our own choices. But isn’t the online availability of Daredevil one of the reasons it could be produced that way? Arrow is available in public primetime broadcasting, while Netflix is by subscription. Forget the difference in content and consider that Arrow has to appeal to a wide audience – at a certain timeslot – and therefore appease the censors.

    1. I 100% agree. While I also think that DD is the superior show, but they can pretty much do whatever they want. Arrow is on the CW. This guy needs to calm down. Also someone mentioned on FB that on DD all the women get beat, on Arrow they are strong. But whatever, I’ll watch both cause I enjoy them both.

      1. In Daredevil EVERYONE gets their ass kicked. 2 women got a little beat up in a show where dozens of men were murdered. This whole precedent that no woman can be harmed at all in a show about a costumed fucking crimefighter is stupid.

  2. I honestly feel this so hard, especially after how disappointing Arrow Season 3 has been. Like…? I could rant about it too, but I won’t. I am hoping it improves, but personally I am beginning to think that Season 2 was a masterful fluke. I hope not, but eh.

  3. i see no reason to chuck one for the other. i can enjoy a filet mignon, and a white tower greaseburger with equal facility. i believe the actors have done their best with some unfortunate writing choices, but i think they are in the process as the season comes to an end of writing themselves out of the corners they have written themselves into.

    if EVER a set of actors deserved a bit of loyalty for their efforts to bring a new kind of entertainment to the fore, it is the cast of arrow. and in particular, stephen amell. it is also worth remembering that without ARROW there would not have been a DAREDEVIL.

    1. While I agree with you, for the most part (and will still proudly enjoy Arrow, thanks), the existence of a DAREDEVIL series has nothing to do with ARROW.

    2. Your post about there not having a Daredevil because of Arrow, is complete and utter nonsense. Marvel planned their cinematic universe to in compass several different characters, Daredevil being part of the Defender’s overall project, including Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron fist. This wasn’t because Marvel decided Arrow was successful we need a TV show. Agents of Shield, and Agent Carter’s successes are proof o that. (Higher viewership than all the CW shows) Marvel got the rights back from Fox for Daredevil around 2012-2013

      And it’s White Castle not White Tower.

  4. I’ve really been wanting to start this, so thanks for this post. I’ve heard so many good things about Daredevil! Gonna have to start watching tonight!

  5. Wow. Hard for me to think that I’m even watching the same series. I couldn’t disagree more. I liked Daredevil a lot, but it’s not in the same league as Flash, Arrow, or SHIELD, which I consider the best shows on right now. Not as bad as Nolan Batman. I did like it. But not as fun as the DC shows or SHIELD and Agent Carter. And superhero shows should be fun.

    1. Restoring the campy fun in superheroes is one of the saving graces of the genre. I’m glad Marvel is willing to go there with Daredevil, just as ‘Blade’ did before X-Men and Spider-Man. But I hope the audience can reconcile with this variety of storytelling. When ‘Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker’ came out I knew that was not fit for kids, but it was a compelling story. There have been numerous, more family oriented Batman series since then and they have their place.

    2. First thing, when viewer with any sense of good writing would agree that arrow has fallen upon very, very rough times. Its almost like they cannot agree upon one fluid story line for season 3. I mean, why do the opinions on Ras keep changing, and why is Merlyn even alive. Also, none of the character’s decisions make sense. In a sane world, Oliver would have taken the offer to be head of the demon. Even if he is wary about the killing, Ras said he can order his men not to kill. It is his choice. On top of all that too many people know Oliver’s secret. I get they were setting it up for this whole “Ras reveals him” thing, but it just doesn’t work. Also Laurel is one of the worst female characters ever.

  6. You’re talking about an online series with no network restraints which is, essentially, a hard PG-13 vs. a primetime network series meant to be family friendly.

    It’s apples to oranges, man.

  7. While I haven’t been a huge fan of this season’s Arrow, and I have yet to see Daredevil so can’t judge that one yet, I don’t see giving up Arrow. It’s really not that bad, Laurel has been kind of annoying trying to be the Canary or whatever, but she is getting less obnoxious now that she is getting proper training and reigning in her crazy emotions/outbursts. Thea i like even more now as a bad ass etc etc But it’s true as far as restrictions – there is only so far they can push the envelope being on the CW. Even a new fav of mine iZombie, it’s great, but could be even better if it could be on Netflix or something like that.

  8. One point to consider is how you consumed the media. Daredevil offered you the luxury of uninterrupted watching in a day, this makes plot points that get stretched out easier to digest, network television can’t offer this. As an experiment, I would like someone to come in cold to both and view them in opposition to how they were intended, digest DD weekly and watch the entire season of Arrow in one viewing or over a shortened time span. To be very clear, Daredevil is a superior show, but Arrow is not as bad a show as claimed in this piece.

    1. That’s in fact how I watched Arrow. I saw the first two seasons in about a week or so each. Then I picked up season 3 with weekly viewing. I didn’t get a sense of the quality dropping off when I did that, though. Season 3 has been every bit as good as the first two, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t think Daredevil is superior, for the reasons I gave before and probably several others. Arrow is much more fun, even if it’s not as light-hearted as the Flash, and Daredevil just comes off as too close to everything I loathed about the Nolan Batman. I much preferred the previous movies, even if there’s a cheesiness to them, because they aim to be fun. Daredevil also doesn’t seem to me to have anywhere near the character development as Arrow — we know next to nothing about nearly all the characters, since even the flashbacks are so narrowly tied to just a handful of particular events. Arrow has a much more tightly woven tapestry, including a five-year plan for the five years of flashbacks that we’re only now just beginning the second half of, where the flashbacks are meant to coincide narratively with the show’s events, with the broad strokes of all this planned from the beginning and not just made up season to season, as Daredevil seems to be, given that they only really began to plan for season 2 if it’s going to happen once they were done writing season 1.

      At any rate, it’s not the binge-watching that made me continue to think this about the current season. It’s the show itself.

    2. I did this, on accident, watching both shows. I watched all of season 1 of DD back to back roughly through a few days, before I watched a single episode of Arrow. Then watched Arrow from start to finish through season 3, although it took more time. I’m now still watching season 4 and am still hooked. I’ll tell you what is bad. DC Legends, is bad. The villains’ acting on the Flash, is bad. I actually watched the Flash before either series, it’s worse.

  9. DD did some fascinating and interesting things but I will say that watching almost every single female character on DD get beaten or victimized really turned my stomach. So much so that I had to stop watching after ep 10 or 11. It was just too brutal for me which I know is Daredevil’s vibe, especially after the 80s, but it’s just not for me.

    I will say the writing was great and d’Onofrio made such a great villain, combining soft spoken patience with violent rage and touching loyalties. He consistently does great work and I am a big fan of his and Marvel should be thrilled that they got him.

    In mild defense of Arrow, which of course has weak points as most things do, only doing a 13 show arc as opposed to a regular network’s demands affects everything that a show does from the time commitments and contracts of actors and crew to the writer’s process of development to how a show looks and feels to how they use their budget. I don’t think those differences can be taken too lightly.

    1. I can understand not wanting to watch it because of the violence, especially if someone is sensitive to violence against women, because it does occur, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that the show presents women largely as victims. (I’m not sure that’s what you’re saying, either, but what you said might comes across that way.)

      Karen was framed once, attacked twice, and kidnapped once, but she was largely a strong character who fought back, and those events seem like just pieces of a character arc that was not just about those things.

      Claire was kidnapped and attacked, but that was once in a longer character arc that wasn’t mainly about her being a victim. More screen time was given to her positive contribution to Daredevil’s mission. Those events were important for those characters, but it wasn’t what was central to either.

      Mrs. Cardenas was treated pretty brutally as well, but that wasn’t definitive in developing her character. Vanessa was poisoned, but that was hardly what defined her character. But Madame Gao was an important character who was not a victim in any sense. The closest she gets to that is getting her operation shut down in a way that never touches her physically. I can’t think of any other important women on the show offhand besides Doris Urich, who isn’t really a victim of any person, and Marci, who is isn’t really presented as a victim at all.

      It doesn’t strike me as if the women on the show are all defined by being victimized, at least not in any way that’s not true of the men. Pretty much every character gets beat up at least once, with only a handful of exceptions, and sometimes it’s pretty brutal with the men, even with Daredevil himself. What happens to the most of the bad guys is pretty nasty, and sometimes it’s women doing it to them.

      1. You’re right, my comment could be misinterpreted. I did not mean to say that the female characters are portrayed only as victims however I think they are often defined as either a romantic interest for male characters and/or largely dependent on male characters to rescue or protect them. ex. I would argue that Vanessa is kinda defined by the poisoning. We don’t know much about her apart from her interaction with Fisk, he promises her she will be safe at his side, and he is driven crazy by what happens to her at which point he dictates that she be removed from his life while she is unconscious. It’s really all about Fisk and we never get to know Vanessa much at all. I didn’t see any flashbacks with any female leads or any real discussion of their lives outside of the male leads. I never felt like I knew them as individuals, only as part of the male leads story. Madame Gao was an interesting departure granted but not really a fleshed out character either (most of Fisks supporting villains were often formulaic and largely unknown). Now this was only 13 eps and they center on Murdock and Fisk but the women largely revolve around them.

        But you’re right, the violence that turned me off was not just directed to women and it was the brutally in general that I just couldn’t handle anymore. It’s not to my taste and while I can understand that it is compelling for plenty of people I couldn’t continue. This means I did not see the entire arc so could be missing things in my points (Karen did get better after the first couple of episodes but would she have gone so far as to kill someone if all three men in her life who she repeatedly asked for help hadn’t sent her packing?) but I couldn’t get past the things that bothered me about the series in order to see it through to the end.

  10. I think arrow is a still a brilliant show, obvously season 3 fell due to a lack of focus due to the producers focusing on flash which soared in its pilot season and I think the flash is better than daredevil. Daredevil a show which has a higher budget and a shorter season with no weekly viewing plus no ads, Daredevil had the amazing fight scene in episode 2 but other than matt murdock, kingpin and Ben Urich the rest of the cast weren’t that great Foggy was the Felicity in Arrow season 3 being whiny and trying to be funny and he just got extremely boring, most other characters were overlooked. Arrow has the advantage to pursue its characters due to its longer season. So arrow and daredevil are closer matched than the statements made above.

  11. While I have to agree that s3 of the arrow was less than stellar, daredevil wasnt much better. From the useless episodes of the russians, to the rushed ending which butchers the true king pin character of being an entrepreneur crime boss who stays out of the eye of the public, to the characters that take up an entire episode with no plot whatsoever. I mean do we really need to how fisk gets dressed and eats his breakfast. The show spent more time elaborating on fiske’s daily routines than the epic rivalry between him and DD, and then they end the king pin and hint more towards his girlfriend taking his place after a few dates. I feel Arrow s3 was great up to a couple episodes after ras won the most violent game of king of the mountain, then it kinda took a left where it shouldve went right. I feel both show need to step it up, but DD is gonna have a hard time with that since one of his best villians was permanently beaten. Fiske has no powers, his strenghth was being a slum lord/crime boss who worked nameless from the shadows. Since hes in jail and everyone now knows what he does, I dont see how thats possible. With all that being said I will still be following both shows until the bitter end, these 2 and thrones are the best shows out right now. You can quit watching arrow but im positive that your gonna miss out on some epic story arcs, if I quit watching shows because half a season sucked, I would’ve canned game of thrones b4 the viper and the mountain episode. The first half of season 4 was as mind numbing as watching a full episode of keeping up with the kardashians.

    1. Thank you! This is what I was trying to say in my comment. In a lot of episodes it seemed like there was absolutely no plot, compared to that of Arrow which sometimes seems congested with how much is going on!

  12. Well that’s good for you that you won’t ever watch Arrow again, honestly I could care less, your rant means nothing to anyone who still loves Arrow, this is just your personal opinion but to be fair Arrow is on prime time network and it must follow certain guidelines not to mention that the show must cater to a much greater audience, DD is on the Internet were the guidelines are so much different and a lesser audience, the same could be said for The Vampire Diaries and the originals which are really good shows but compared to true Blood they are no match because there are less restrictions on HBO, so Don’t watch Arrow anymore your the ones who looses in the end of a terrific show.

    1. The people in support of Arrow all seem to say the same thing really (read between their lines) “We know Arrow isn’t as good as DD, but that’s because it’s on CW” … so let’s just get that out of the way…we are all agreed, DD is better. Arrow is DD-lite, without the spice, seasoning and salt.

      People whining about women’s representation need to realize one thing… this is DareDevil..not Supergirl. There are no pink outfits to draw in the female viewership, no angsty teens, no high school romances with girly get-togethers to while up the time and make all girls/women feel warm inside. or dwelling on “that outfit he wore was sooooo cute OMG” *puke*.. this is hard core, gritty entertainment for people who are sick of the watered down CW fare. And we didn’t get flashbacks for many of the male characters either, so stop bitching about women characters not being fleshed out.

      Hat’s off to the director(s), writers, actors (D’onofrio!) and Netflix..such a refreshing return to the vibe we miss of 24 and similarly gritty, adult shows.

  13. I cant believe this. I just spent watched the whole series twice. I am a huge Arrow fan- but let me actually start with this- I am a Marvek fan to the core. But have so far been unimpressed with the caliber of tv shows they produce, unlike DC, who are absolutely smashing it.
    I love a dark, more realistic approach which is why I love Arrow so much, and couldn’t really get behind The Flash.
    And while Daredevil was dark- it seemed to be dark just for the sake of being dark. Fight scenes in the first few episodes lasted far longer than they needed to. We get it. He is blind and can smack down. Acting was superb for the most part, Charlie Cox played an excellent rendition of Matt Murdock. But characyers like Foggy, while great where just quirky for the sake of quirky. A lot of things were just for the sake of themselves. In a whole 50 minute episode, they had hardly any character development and few arcs that involved anything at all- the only propelling arc was between Fisk and Vanessa, and that was just confusing and unnecessary.
    Where as Arrow, in a 40 minute episode manages to give almost EVERY CHARACTER their own arc and problems to deal with, while still hunting the bad guy.
    That all being said. Daredevil was done extremely well for their first netflix series, and it did start to get a lot better in the later episodes.

  14. Not a fair comparison but I understand the sentiment.
    I began watching Arrow in the second season, catching up on the 1st season and a half in binge form. It always seemed like a soap opera. (Especially when Oliver was sleeping with all the female actors.) No shade, I think that is why it gained in popularity. Guys could watch and feel no shame (not that they should but…society); Girls could bond with there significant dorks, geeks, and nerds; CW got ratings. But I don’t feel it is as good as others feel it is. Not sure though stopped watching a little bit ago but lasted longer than you.

  15. So agree with you! I stopped watching Arrow after watching the first episode of Daredevil, stopped watching Flash as well at about the same time. Daredevil had so much depth… my wife said that Arrow was a bit like a super show where there was suddenly a ‘Twilight’ romance scene -without the sparkles. With The Flash, we could not get past the group of post-teen scientists at whatever the research center was called, redirecting satellites and what-not. Way too unbelievable.

    I have yet to be disappointed by anything in Daredevil (half-way through season 2) and am NOW ENGAGED WITH Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The writing on all the shows is so good.

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