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A New-ish CW: Breaking Down the Network's Fall Schedule

Does the expansion to Sunday mean anything?

Kaitlin Thomas

This fall marks the first time since 2009 The CW will offer original programming on Sundays. The expansion to six nights a week offers The CW a bit of breathing room as it prepares to say goodbye to three of the shows that, in one way or another, brought it acclaim. But what does this expansion actually mean for The CW?

Honestly, not much appears to be changing yet, at least as far as the fall schedule is concerned. The network is replacing one supernatural-themed series (The Originals) with another (Legacies) and filling in the gaps with a high school-set drama (All American) and yet another reboot (Charmed). Still, let's go ahead and break down the schedule day by day to see just what's different, what's staying the same, and whether any of it even matters.


​Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffrey and Madeleine Mantock, Charmed

Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffrey and Madeleine Mantock, Charmed

Katie Yu, Katie Yu/The CW

Supergirl, which will enter its fourth season (third on The CW) this fall, has led off the network's lineup for the past two seasons. It will continue to do so again, but this time it will kick things off on Sundays where it will lead into the Charmed reboot. Pairing together programs featuring women with extraordinary abilities makes sense thematically, while the decision to use Supergirl, the second most-watched series on The CW, to launch a reboot that wasn't warmly received by either the fans or the stars of the original is based in relatively sound reasoning. Plus, the original Charmed aired on Sundays on The WB from 2002 until its end in 2006, so the network is clearly attempting to go for some sort of consistency here and hoping to win over fans by playing to the good memories associated with the former show.

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Unfortunately, neither Supergirl nor Charmed is likely to fill the shoes of the network's soon-to-be departing series. The one thing Charmed has going for it is the fact it counts Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman as one of its executive producers, but the series is also just the latest supernatural drama in a long line of supernatural dramas on The CW. Unless it does something radically different, it's not likely to stand out in a sea of superheroes either, especially since the network still has the long-running drama Supernatural and the upcoming The Originals spin-off Legacies.

However, since the big news here is that The CW is expanding back into Sunday programming, the show's success will be less about how it performs in comparison to its network brothers and sisters and more about how it and Supergirl stack up against the competition. ABC's Dancing with the Stars and Shark Tank are their most obvious competitors as there's not a lot of overlap among the programs airing on the other three networks at this time: Fox's Sunday night comedy block; the new series God Friended Me and returning drama NCIS: Los Angeles on CBS; and Sunday Night Football on NBC.



Stephen Amell, Arrow


The CW will fill Supergirl's former Monday timeslot with another superhero drama: Arrow. The Stephen Amell-led series, which launched The CW's DC Comics universe in 2012 and has aired on both Wednesdays and Thursdays over its run, will lead into the fourth season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow. There's nothing too exciting about this particular pairing. Arrow, which will debut its seventh season in the fall, is much closer to its end than its beginning. This season the show said goodbye to two of its original stars in Willa Holland and Paul Blackthorne, and while Arrow can certainly survive without their characters, it does seem that the series, which is the lowest-rated of the network's five superhero programs (1.26 million viewers and a 0.43 rating among adults ages 18 to 49), is likely preparing for its final descent in the near future.

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Meanwhile, the tonally lighter Legends of Tomorrow, which finished its most recent run in the Mondays at 8 p.m. timeslot, has become the most consistently entertaining of the network's superhero series. Pairing the two superhero shows together might be the network's attempt to bring some of Legends viewers to an aging series, but the decision to lead with Arrow at 8 p.m. complicates that. The most likely explanation is that Arrow didn't fit anywhere else, and pairing it with another superhero show will make future crossovers rather easy.


Cress Williams, Black Lightning​

Cress Williams, Black Lightning

Annette Brown, Annette Brown/The CW

Like it has since it first premiered in 2014, The Flash will lead The CW's Tuesday evening lineup. It will again be paired with the Cress Williams vehicle Black Lightning, which averaged 1.73 million viewers in its freshman season, making it the network's third most-watched rated series of 2017-18. The decision to keep these two paired more or less boils down to the adage "if it ain't broken, don't fix it." But when considered alongside the rest of the schedule, it also breaks The CW's own rule about how many superhero shows it will air at any one time.

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CW President Mark Pedowitz has stated on numerous occasions that the network will never have more than four superhero shows on air at once. It seems the expansion to Sundays has done away with that rule, though the network continues to limit its superhero programming to just three nights a week. The way the series are currently scheduled across Sunday, Monday and Tuesday should, as previously mentioned, make the next superhero crossover easy to schedule, but if viewers don't care at all for the network's stable of superhero shows, it's losing viewers on at least two nights out of six.


Taye Diggs and Daniel Ezra, All American

Taye Diggs and Daniel Ezra, All American

Ray Mickshaw, Ray Mickshaw/The CW

With the five superhero series out of the way, The CW is able to turn its focus elsewhere in the second half of the week. Pairing the soapy drama of Riverdale with the football-themed All American makes sense because they're both set in high school, but they're tonally disparate. All American follows a football player from South LA who is recruited to play for a school in Beverly Hills, and Riverdale follows a teenager who thought he could take down a mob boss by telling him his plan to do just that.

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When it comes to All American, comparisons to the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights are bound to happen, and The CW would be lucky if the series turns out to be half as nuanced as the beloved NBC series. Based on the trailer, though, instead of Friday Night Lights' exceptional handling of class in Dillon, Texas, All American seems to be closer to The O.C., in which a kid from Chino moved to the rich and snooty Newport Beach. Potentially working in the show's favor, however, is the fact it counts Greg Berlanti as an executive producer -- this means half of Berlanti's record 14 shows on air next season are on The CW -- but Berlanti is not the showrunner here, so it's unclear how much of his influence will actually be felt throughout the series. Still, it's something new for The CW, and that's always more exciting than another genre drama.



Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

Robert Falconer/The CW

Let's just get this over with: Supernatural is never going to die. Our grandchildren will be watching Sam and Dean's grandchildren stop yet another apocalypse long after we're dead. But the fact the show has been paired with The Originals spin-off Legacies on Thursdays is actually a no-brainer. Both programs deal with the supernatural, so their pairing works on a thematic level, and since the show Supernatural has managed to climb near the top of the network's rankings (it's the fourth most-watched series behind The Flash, Supergirl and Black Lightning), it makes sense to use it to launch a new series that hasn't necessarily had a lot of publicity. Legacies, which follows Hope Mikaelson's time at the Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted, didn't film a traditional pilot, so it will be interesting to see what this new series in The Vampire Diaries franchise looks like, especially since many people expected the network to pick up the Supernatural spin-off Wayward Sisters instead.

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Scott Michael Foster and Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Patrick Wymore/The CW

Dynasty's renewal was something of a surprise, though maybe it shouldn't have been: the show is produced by CBS Television Studios. It's sophomore outing will lead into the fourth and final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Friday nights. This makes for an interesting pairing that pretty much only exists because the shows are two of the lowest-rated on the network. A better pairing would have been the final seasons of Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend -- the two shows aired together on Mondays during their freshman seasons -- but by holding Jane the Virgin for midseason, The CW is able to spread the final seasons of its best and brightest series across the entire TV season. Jane has also had progressively shorter and shorter seasons as the series has gone on, and a shorter episode order with a midseason start date could have also been at the request of either creator Jennie Snyder Urman or the show's star Gina Rodriguez, who's becoming busier and busier as the Golden Globe winner's star continues to rise.

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Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin​

Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin


Joining Jane the Virgin at midseason is the sixth season of The 100 and the fifth and final season of iZombie. The rebooted Roswell, known as Roswell, New Mexico, and the new series In the Dark, are also being held for midseason. These decisions make sense -- The 100 and iZombie have been midseason staples for a while now -- but holding the Roswell reboot is mildly interesting. It could be something as simple as not wanting to launch two reboots at the same time, and if that's the case, it makes sense The CW would choose Charmed for fall; the show pairs well with Supergirl and thus allows the network to kick off the new season behind a new night of empowering programming. Because of its cast makeup and subject matter, Roswell would be easier to slip into the schedule at a later date.

(Full dislcosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)