The CW's identity crisis: Are 'Supernatural' and 'Smallville' better than 'Gossip Girl' and '90210'?

Watching Smallville this week, I had a Zod-like epiphany. The episode was a good one — it peaked with Clark saving a mortally wounded Zod by cutting himself with a shard of kryptonite, letting a bit of his Kryptonian blood drip into the Kandorian’s wound, which resulted not only in Zod’s revival but (unknown to Clark) giving Zod super-powers. This Zod transformed claimed to have had a revelation, telling Clark that he wanted to join forces, that he realized “your enemy becomes your savior.” Nothing good will come of this… except, potentially, lots of good Blur versus Zod warfare.

But watching the hour, I kept seeing commercials for new March episodes of Melrose Place and 90210 and Gossip Girl and Life Unexpected. I have a soft spot for the lovably twee Life, but it’s not really amounting to much. As for the rest: blechh. Seeing all that promotional posing and pouting, I thought, I’ve pretty much had it with the CW’s cool-hip brigade. And that so includes One Tree Hill.

The CW has never had huge ratings, and it’s struggled to establish its brand identity. So here’s an idea. Why not rededicate itself to being the home of Supernatural, Smallville, and Vampire Diaries (its best cool-hip show primarily because its cool-hip is enlivened by its fantasy element), and develop more shows in this genre?

I know the business counter-argument to this: the network can assert that it gets more ad dollars by dangling youth and beauty. That Leighton Meester makes more of an impact in the media than Jensen Ackles.

But I don’t write a business column; I advocate for what’s interesting to watch. And at this point in their respective histories, I am certain that Supernatural is more fun to follow than Gossip Girl is, and I know that the people who are doing amusing variations on the Superman mythology in Smallville are giving us better entertainment than the talented folks who are trying heroically to breathe life into the wheezing 90210 legacy.

Am I wrong?

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Comments (338 total) Add your comment
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  • tigersmurfette

    so so right. and they need to give smallville and sup more money. the wardrobe budget for gossip girl is probably more than an entire episode of smallville or supernatural costs

    • joe

      definitely agree. I hate smallville and all the other shows on ew, except supernatural. Smallville has seen it’s time, it needs to be canceled. Such horrible scripts, bad acting with massive over exaggeration, plus it’s been 9 years and clark still can’t fly?? If they leave it for the series finale that’s just mean. I’d rather see a new smallville show created focusing solely on the justice league and other superheroes.

      Supernatural is without a doubt one of the top 3 shows on tv in terms of story lines, action, dialogue, writing, etc. These guys definitely need more money and will improve the show, especially after last years budget cuts.

      I want 5 more years of this show!

      • JAG

        1. It’s CW. Not EW.

        2. Smallville is hardly the low-quality show you make it out to be. Some of the past seasons might have dragged a bit, but not this one. And acting has never been its downfall. They’ve always had an outstanding cast.

        3. Superman didn’t fly in the movies until he donned the suit. Clark didn’t even BECOME Superman until he was about 30. So the never-ending complaint that he should be a superhero already is ridiculous.

        4. I wouldn’t watch a show about hell for any amount of money. I’ll take Superman any day of the week.

      • athena606

        SInce it obvious that you don’t watch the show why comment on it i don’t bash what i don’t watch. Also Clark can fly physically fly your missing the point he’s hang up over flight come from his attachment to being human and that fact that humans can’t fly its a psychological issue not a physical one.

      • Wilson

        I’m with JAG on this from #s 1-3.
        Smallville is an awesome show, and Joe is sooooo off in calling it bad, but he’s right about Supernatural. Supernatural is not “a show about hell” and to say that so dismissively almost negates anything you said previously about Smallville: if you don’t want people that obviously don’t watch the show throwing dirt at the show for reasons that don’t even apply to the show, don’t do the same about another show. Smallville was my favorite show for 5 years, and it only took one season of Supernatural to change that. Supernatural is the best show on television right now, and when they were on the same night, I noticed a huge shift in Smallville as well–it seems to me that Smallville got darker, more violent, and actually started to change to be slightly even more like Supernatural…which is when it got better after a few years of being blah…

        lol how many times can I use the word “show” in a comment? xD

    • Snarf

      ANYTHING is better than 90210 and GG (except the Melrose Place reboot – wretched thing that it is)

      • bbwdaters

        gossip igrl isthe best, bbwdaters

      • Sally

        I disagree. It appears to be a gender issue. Gossip Girl/90210/OTH have done very good in attracting the CW’s coveted women demo. While the shows you mentioned are more male oriented. Smallville ranks the lowest in the female demo.

      • amj

        Sally, you are right that 90210 and Melrose have attracted a female audience but I think you are wrong on Supernatural! I am a female and I love the show. My mother is also hooked! It’s a great combination of humor, sci-fi, lore, and horror. And, Jensen and Jared aren’t bad to look at either! So, I don’t believe it’s “male-oriented” as you say!

      • mommysarah

        I have to agree with amj. Supernatural is definitely not just a male-oriented show. My husband and I watch it together every week. My 21 y/o sister and her dorm mates all get togethere every Thursday night to watch it (and Smallville), and I have never heard them even mention anything about GG or 90210.

    • Tajah

      Agree completely. Supernatural is one of the few shows that I look forward to every week and miss terribly when they go on break. MARCH 24? sigh. Am so excited they are coming back for season 6!!!!

    • Rashad

      I totally disagree. I used to be a huge Smallville fan, but I stopped watching after last season because it became SO BORING. Supernatural is garbage too. But I love 90210, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and Melrose Place. Those are the best shows on The CW.

      • Akane

        Unfortunately sex sells and GG, MP, and 90210 have a lot of that, but it doesn’t mean quality.
        The problem I think is that Supernatural and Smallville are not shooting in LA or NY, that is why unfortunately we don’t see more of them, believe me I would pay to see Jensen and Jared even Micha do a bunch of talk shows. To me Supernatural is the best show on The CW, has great story lines and as it can be dramatic, scary it is also pretty funny, GREAT show.

      • jordan

        yes, but that’s ALSO the reason why they can get by with their budget.

      • Rimli

        Supernatural is the best show, if you don’t like it then you don’t like good television

      • Dave

        I question the intelligence of anyone who calls Supernatural and Smallville boring trash and says that Melrose Place is one of the best shows on TV. ::shudder::

      • athena606

        you might want to reassess that opinion Smallville has creatively flourished in this current season its the best its been since season4 IMHO. Also as a woman i can tell you that CW obsession with the female demographic only watching shows about gossip and pretty rich people is ridiculous. I haven’t missed a single episode of Smallvile in 9yrs i can bet not many fans can say the same about GG or that it will even last that long for that matter.

  • bamalam

    Clark better watch out…or else fans will run the same route as what Heroes did involving magic blood…expect him to save everyone with it as a plot device…

    • JaySin420

      I agree b/c I hate that plot device but Smallville has MUCH better writers than Heroes so I’m not worried.

      And I’m guessing it only worked cause Zod is also Kryptonian but I don’t know.

      • topazbean

        Smallville has a campy fun element that they’ve definitely started playing up this season even more, which can only be a good thing. I just wish Tom Welling would learn to deliver lines with a little more enthusiasm than a kitchen table.

      • MK

        I think Tom Welling is an awesome Superman. He brings a very humble quality to Clark Kent. I find him very easy to root for. He plays Clark with a rather stoic quality–that’s true. But I find that it works very well with the character. Clark is a more serious person. That being said, he has great comedic timing in his scenes with Erica Durance. So I do feel like I see two sides to Tom becuase he is able to break out of that more serious mode and be funny when he’s given the chance.

    • WhoopArse

      That only worked because Zod is Kryptonian.

    • Rimli

      i agree

  • Holly

    You’re not wrong at all. Smallville has been given new life this year. I’m loving the Lois/Clark stuff, and I’m interested to see the Oliver/Chloe dynamic develop. In addition to the romance elements, I can’t wait to see where they’re going with the “checkmate” stuff… but I’ll admit, I’m getting a bit tired of the slow Zod storyline.

    • Lizzette

      As for the checkmate stuff, I heard rumors about Lex Luther.

      • Barb

        NO, the chess board is the symbol of the Suicide Squad, previously introduced. I certainly hope they rope Rosenthal back in as Lex for at least a story arc next year, but I understand he doesn’t want to have to shave his head! SIGH!

  • Patrick

    I couldnt agree with you more Ken, however the issue is that the business side of the argument is the only one that matters. The CW has publicly come out to say they are geared towards women. That is their target audience and the only demographic they actually make advertisement money on what with the low ratings. As a result chances are good that they will continue the 90210 gossip girl etc. type shows.

    • Melissa

      I find it interesting that the CW says they are geared more towards women so they push the 90210 Gossip Girl stuff. As a woman, I tune in every week for 3 shows. Smallville, Vampire Diaries and One Tree Hill. (Although One Tree Hill has been losing to Chuck now).
      The fantasyesque shows are better written with phenomenally better acting.
      And as a woman, I’m not interested in how much cleavage and leg Blake Lively can show in one episode of Gossip Girl. I am interested in how many times I can have a shirtless shot of Justin Hartley or either Salvatore brother!
      There’s a great article on the CW’s ratings curse here http://portraitmagazine.net/archives/cwcurse.html

      • AB

        As a woman I find this interesting as well. Also ‘Leighton Meester makes more of an impact in the media than Jensen Ackles’ makes me wonder, “what the hell is wrong with our media!?”

      • Nick T

        I just wanna defend GG real quick. Yeah Serena shows a lot of boobs, but the production values on that show are super amazing. And they can all act, for the most part. I agree on all other shows except this one. Long live GG!

      • raven

        While I still watch Gossip Girl (though not as much as I used to) I gotta agree. In a show aimed towards woman why do I have to see Blake Lively run around half naked all the time when the boys are always stuck wearing suits and ties?

      • Ivette

        I totally agree with you! im a woman and im more likely to tune in to Supernatural( which ive been addicted to since season 1, no joke) and my new faves of Smallville and Vampire Diaries to watch a shirtless shot of any of main guys on these shows ( SO HOT), than the drama filled shows of Gossip Girl and 90210. these shows are all about drama and lets face it, im a girl, THERES ALREADY DRAMA IN MY LIFE!

      • Whatever

        Thanks for the link. :)

      • alia

        I have to agree with AB here: Jensen, Jared, and Misha deserve more attention than they get! I guess our loss is Canada’s gain.

    • topazbean

      I agree that that is clearly their thinking, but you have to wonder if perhaps young women are crying out for something a little more mature and sophisticated than a lot of fashionable beautiful people being bitchy about each other. Maybe they just need to think about taking the interesting, unique or dark elements of shows like Smallville and Supernatural and translating that to a drama with a real world setting that might appeal to women, too. Just think what BSG did for Syfy’s reputation – because they made a show that no one in a million years would have expected them to make, and it worked.

    • Lauren

      I find that strange when, as a woman, my favourite show by FAR on the CW is Supernatural. It’s obviously the best show they’ve ever had. True, I also watch One Tree Hill, but that’s far more grown up these days than it used to be. 90210 and GG come across as incessently whiny, teen angst driven shows — but as a woman not much past teen years myself, I really don’t find that interesting.

      • amj

        Agreed, me too! I am a 38 year old woman who loves Supernatural! So does my mother!

      • alia

        It might be tied for the best with Gilmore Girls. And while it may seem like those two shows have nothing in common, they’re both defined by great writing and fantastic acting. And (this just occurred to me) Jared Padalecki.

      • alia

        Oooh, I have to add Veronica Mars to the “Best of the Network” list, too. I actually forgot V Mars was on the CW. It certainly belongs in a category of greatness with SPN and Gilmore.

      • Kari

        You are not alone Supernatural is my favorite show it and Smallville are the only shows I watch on the C.W. I am not a fan of 90210 or Gossip Girl.

    • Zoey

      This is what confuses me: if they are geared towards woman, whay aren’t they promoting the shows with hot GUYS? Like, say, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, both of which have extremely attractive sets of brothers? And Smallville’s got a good-looking lead, along with a hot supporting actor. The other shows have attractive guys, sure, but have you seen the Winchesters and Salvatores? They’re smokin’!

      • MK

        Zoey, I hear you. In my opinion, Tom Welling is the best looking man on TV. (I know women love Jensen and Jared a well and while I think they are gorgeous I just personally find Tom more attractive. ) It kills me that the CW doesn’t bother playing up these gorgeous men. Who is hotter than these guys on TV on any network? No one! These three men are stunningly beautiful. Add Justin Hartley to that too. He’s hot too. Then you add in how beauiful Erica Durance, Allison Mack and Cassidy Freeman are. Hello CW? Get your heads out of yoru asses. The cast of Smallville is STUNNING.

      • Candice

        Love, Love, Love, Diaries (read the books twice) & Supernatural. Couldn’t agree more about the Winchesters and Salvatores. HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

      • ain

        10 points there!
        cant agree more about Winchesters and Salvatore brothers. they like the hottest guys ever! i agree that Supernatural is an outstanding show ever. this kind of show that can really compete with other show. they have every kind of elements. yes, its based on mythology, ghost, angels and demons and all, but, they are brother dealing with life too. family, humor, horror, sex.. and the list goes on and on. its very great combination ya know.
        but i kept wondering why they cant be famous as any other show. their budget been cut out! oh my. poor them. please~
        try watch yourself. you’ll be hooked up even with only an episode. trust me!

      • Patricia

        that not knowing it was deotoargry, or you said it with malice. Either way, remember that there are two types of racists. The smart ones who lead a successful life, and the idiots who end up in prison because they don’t know to keep some thoughts to themselves. With six words, you are appearing to be the latter.

  • erika

    the CW has never appreciated what it has in Supernatural; why should they start now? It’s a quality show that any network would be lucky to have, but they’ve never promoted it. They’d rather focus on dreck like 90210, etc.

    • Jay

      To think Ken Tucker’s colleagues, jennifer Armstrong and Michael Aussiello gave favorable review for 90210 this season. Ken, give this show a chance, will yah?

    • alia

      They don’t need to promote it. Even without the media buzz of Gossip Girl or 90210, it’s still one of the CW’s highest-rated shows (if not THE highest rated show).

      • Raj

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  • Dee

    The problem with the CW is redundancy. How many shows can you have of rich-white-young-adults-with-too-much-free-time on the their hands? Obviously Dawn Ostroff seems to think, the more the merrier.

    Also the GG cast gets a lot more publicity because they’re based in NY. Excluding the Olympics, not too much media make the trip to visit Vancouver (where SV and Supernatural are shot).

    While I do think it’s time for Smallville to hang up it cape, perhaps the CW should try some more variety in it’s scheduling. I mean, the ratings can’t get any worse.

    • Em

      Does anyone remember last pilot season for the CW? I remember this one show in particular, Body Politic–which is available on youtube, and I thought, ‘why didn’t they pick this up?’ The CW wants to be known for elite, beautiful popular prepsters. That’s why they cancelled the great Veronica Mars and did not fight for Gilmore Girls. That is why they don’t put any effort into Supernatural advertisement. That is why they pick up crappy pilots with zero potential. Really, that Body Politic show had potential and likability, unlike The Beautiful Life. Melrose Place would have had potential if it wasn’t trying to be everything else on that networkd. What the CW needs is more quality based shows about things other than rich, beautiful scandal. What it needs is diversity in casting, originality, and money distribution. But then, why would anyone on that network do something that makes sense?

      • alia

        No kidding! The CW would be doing so much better if it picked up/kept SMART shows like Veronica Mars, Body Politic, and Supernatural instead of focusing on shallow melodrama like Melrose, 90210, and (to a lesser extent) Gossip Girl.

      • hats8

        I think Em makes a good point- the CW has had some truly excellent shows- Gilmore and V.Mars were superb shows as are Supernatural and Smallville. CW is like Abc family’s older sister- a little more mature and a little more sophisticated, but… a little less innocent, moral and well intended…lets hope that some one at CW will take a stand for quality and the network will air keep airing really great shows and not tailspin into a cheap teen soap channel!

    • Justme

      I have to agree with this, it seems the CW has to many of the same type of show which only cancels out the audiences for people who might like that show(ie they may watch one of Gossip Girls or 90210 but not both, if you didn’t give them that option you would have more people watching one of them).

      In the same vein because Vampire Diaries is a success, that doesn’t mean they should now come out with 3-4 shows about Vampires.

      They basically should try find a variety of shows with different themes that they potentially could find cross audiences with other shows on the network.

      I also think the CW’s marketting plan pushing certain shows nonstop while treating other like they are a plague is idiotic. Maybe if you give other shows a little more love(OTH, SV and SN) more people would watch them and then when you push your other shows during them you might catch more people’s interest. I never seen a network before that seems to go out of it’s way to push down it’s top drawing shows

  • Bridget

    It is possible they are starting to move more in that direction. They are working on a pilot Nikita (another remake of La Femme Nikita) executive produced by none other then Supernatural’s very own McG. Also in the works is a new pilot about cheerleaders being executive produced by Tom Welling which sounds closer in tone to a Bring It On type thing then a trashy Melrose Place type show.

  • Kat

    Yeahh i’ve always loved smallville, and even supernatural when i can see it…Life unexpected has become a new favorite but i definitely agree that they should pay attention to the fantasy genre type shows.

  • Rebecca

    I totally agree with this. Instead of shoving teeny-bopper shows down our throats, how about making shows like Smallville & Supernatural that has the potential to draw in more people and bring CW from a small network to a big network. CBC & NBC are doing well with their adult like shows which shows that older people watch TV more.

    I’m 23, and seriously can not stand the thought that CW is promoting these dumb teeny-bopper like shows and shafting Supernatural & Smallville. I don’t even watch Supernatural anymore! But that’s because I am too lazy to catch up on episode, lol.

    Ah well, Dawn is gonna kill the CW with these idiot shows. Someone fire her quick.

    • AK

      Because not every one wants to watch “Supernatural” and “Smallville.” I’m not saying every “teeny-bopper” (though I prefer Ken’s “cool-hip” – it makes me feel much better about myself) show is good, but I really enjoy “Gossip Girl.” I would argue that it is actually is a pretty good, smart show. Maybe if the network had more GGs and fewer cases of “Melrose Place” or “The Beautiful Life,” this wouldn’t be such a problem. Both audiences can be served.

      • Drew

        I agree, GG is really quite good if you give it a real chance. I also watch the VP diaries, but have no real interest in the other shows. To each their own, just put some variety out there.

      • Wilson

        @ AK: Well not everyone may want to watch SV or SPN but even less people want to watch GG and 90210. It says it in the ratings. And while you prefer GG you don’t have a barrage of SPN promos thrown in your face constantly…as a matter of fact they hardly ever air a promo for SPN or SV…all we’re asking for is more promotion for our shows instead of the overdose of those 2-3 shows that they CONSTANTLY push for…we’re not telling you to go watch SPN… so this “not everybody wants to watch blahblahblah” crap is so missing the point of the post here…

      • Hello Goodbye 67

        Well put with “both audiences can be served”. The wider range of programming each network has, the more revenue generated to keep a variety of shows on the air. At this point, I’m just grateful that there continue to be some scripted programs in prime time (whether they are of my interest or not) instead of just so-called reality programming.

    • hats8

      your missing out, this season of Supernatural (and the one before it where the BEST seasons yet!!

  • trev

    Supernatural is some of the best tv out there EVERY single week.

  • Lere

    Amen! Can I kiss you?!

  • Megan

    I’ve been saying this for years. Those other shows are so hollow. They don’t have any real depth or meaning. I do watch Life Unexpected, but it’s just kind of mindless entertainment. I’m a huge fan of Supernatural, and I can say first-hand that that’s a show that really means something. And it has such a huge and loyal fanbase. I’m sure the same goes for Smallville and maybe Vampire Diaries, though I tend to put that show more in the “crap” pile. But the sci-fi stuff, the ones that are really creative and ingenious, but still connect with the audience on a personal level – those are the kinds of shows that people remember. Hopefully the CW realizes that someday.

    • Lizzette

      They should haverealized that with the success they had with Buffy, Angel, and Charmed. I was hoping they would pick up Dollhouse & The Sarah Conner Chronicles when FOX cancelled them.

      • Lizzette

        Remember Xena and Hercules?

      • Kody

        THANK YOU! I utterly agree!! Those were some of the best shows on television!

    • Jack

      The CW will realize it when the shows are canceled and their “top” scripted dramas still fail to draw 2 million viewers. They’ll be wishing they had SV and SPN back on the network. Those shows are too good for a network that seems to relish portraying slutty teens and amoral rich, young adults. What are you trying to say to your target audience, Dawn?

  • karabella

    thank you sir! ABOUT TIME somebody in the print media said something about SUPERNATURAL =) you hit it right on the head… now if we could have that supernatural ew cover now, please?

    • Heather

      A Supernatural EW cover would be AMAZING!

      • alia

        Yes please! Jared, Jensen, and Misha are all very cover-worthy in both the looks department and the talent department! Plus, Misha always has hilarious things to say.

    • Wei

      Jennifer, my kindergartener Claire LOVED this trick and gigegld when she saw it posted on your website. My 3rd grader completely fell for it, too, and was bummed she missed the Plant by April 1 deadline. So clever. Thanks for including all us other families in your family fun!

  • Nix

    I do believe they might not have realized that the average Supernatural viewer is exactly the kind of girl they say they want.

    • alex

      i LOVED the OC from back in the day….and think josh schwartz is a genius. however, that being said, gossip girl doesn’t interest me in the slightest. i tried watching it and i was completely bored. same with 90210. ugh. i felt like i’d lost brain cells after trying to watch. i LOVE supernatural – this is a show that i tune in to watch faithfully (not online, but live each week) because the writing, directing and acting are phenomenal. i wish it would get the props it deserves. because much of the CW programming is utter garbage. now, your comment about the average supernatural viewer not being what the CW wants is interesting. are you implying that supernatural viewers are somehow less interesting or…? i watch a wide gamut of shows – LOST, Burn Notice, House, etc. Because i don’t watch trashy teen soaps, that somehow makes me less appealing to the CW? like someone else said above, if the CW would realize the success it had with shows like angel and buffy in the past, maybe it could get itself back on track to the way it used to be in the late ’90s, early 2000s (granted, it was the WB before the CW, but still…same thing), it would promote the better shows like supernatural and become less of a network joke.

      • alex

        apologies, i read your comment too fast and see that you were said they have NOT realized that the sup viewer is the kind of girl they want. sorry about that. missed the “Not” which is key :)

    • Lauren

      How very true. I mean, to the girls out there that don’t watch the show, have you SEEN those boys??
      SPN is my favourite show on TV, and I guess i’m the average teen/20-something female demographic they’re after.

      • Yoga

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  • cathy

    I continue to watch Gossip Girl, due to a strange show loyalty I have. However, each time I do, I think I die a little inside. I actually feel myself losing brain cells. However, I find myself really looking forward to new Supernatural and Vampire Diaries episodes. CW should focus on shows like that and shows like Life
    Unexpected which, while not as good, has the feel of the wonderful Gilmore Girls.

    • Kurt

      I have to agree with you. I watch Gossip Girl more out of habit than because I actually enjoy it still. I get so angry watching it because I realize how much I actually hate most of the characters on the show and the storylines. Yet since I’ve watched it from the beginning, I continue to follow it. I’m way too loyal sometimes. haha.

    • jen

      hahaha Cathy I agree, I still watch Gosip Girl but I have no idea why??? I mean it’s all been done so many times before but just in a different location, maybe it’s Nate that keeps me around :).I love supernatural, my parents watch it, my friends watch it my husband watches it and it has just had a big ad campain over here in the UK as it switched channels, it really is fantastic, I also love smallville but I couldn’t tell you what channel it’s on over here as it seems to get it up the arse by a big fat man. Everytime the new season starts and they change the days and times all the time. Vampire Diarys is great too and I hope and pray that somebody will do something other than comics with the Buffy Universe (movie, Tv show, anyone?????)

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