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.