I loved "Arrow." I did with all my heart. After getting over Amell's lukewarm acting for the first half of the first season, I fell head over heels in love with everything the show had to offer. The adorable Tommy Merlyn, who [SPOILER!] was mercilessly killed by the end of the season definitely added to my obsession with the show; but it was beyond doubt a group effort. By the end of the second season, I was an unabashed fan who adored the story, the teleplay, the acting, the characters, and everything in between.
Somewhere along the way, "The Flash " began as the first successful spin-off in the CW superhero universe. Like Barry Allen, its title hero, it initially struggled to find its footing. The cast chemistry just wasn't as strong, and the dialogue felt flat. Nonetheless, it provided that same balance of drama and superhero action that "Arrow" did, landing it on the short list of shows both my husband and I enjoyed watching together. You never could think too much when watching "The Flash." It's designed to thrive under a willful suspension of disbelief. Since it usually airs a day early and scratches that "Arrow" itch, Jim and I just started calling it "a lesser Arrow" and stayed happy campers.
Just then, over in Arrowland, season three happened.
Why? "Arrow" writers, why?
In an almost 180-degree turn, Arrow gathered everything that had made it amazing - balanced characters, sharp writing, implied moral themes, daunting villains, and touching family ties - and burnt it up on a funeral pyre. Taking cues from Tumblr accounts more than common sense, the show dived headfirst into soap opera territory. The wise, caring computer genius Felicity Smoak became reduced to the center of a superhero love triangle (pyramid, if you count her fleeting moment with Barry) whose only job is to cry every episode. Thea Queen, Oliver's sole remaining blood relative, got pushed aside only to be brought up for props from time to time. Malcolm Merlyn was promoted to series regular only to appear even less significantly than he did in season one. As for Oliver himself? He was given a gazillion goodbye scenes with Felicity to give teenage fangirls sufficient material for angsty Olicity youtube videos.
While "Arrow" was plunging into flames, "The Flash" was making its climb at a slow and steady pace. Leaving the initially less-than-stellar acting behind, the cast members have come together to form a very good team with a very good energy. Brandon Routh said as much about his "Arrow" character Ray Palmer (who is the only good thing about season three) fitting in much better with the happier environment on "The Flash." The happier environment itself is a feat. Metahumans are, after all, much more dangerous than the druglords and occasional visiting assassins at Starling City.
You don't forget your first love. I won't ditch "Arrow" just yet. Yes, Olicity shippers have brainwashed the producers. Yes, Ra's al Ghul has been a pathetic plot device more than the venomous killer of lore. And yes, I now watch with more complaints than gasps of awe. I'll stick around just a little more.
But dear "Arrow" writers, please do not screw up season four. Or, soon enough, we'll be calling you "a lesser Flash."