Arrow’s Season 5 premiere ratings are in and the former darling of the CW is in the unfamiliar position of watching its ratings tumble.
Season 5’s opening act delivered a .7 rating in CW’s coveted 18-49 demographic and 1.9 million total viewers. That’s a fairly significant 36% drop in the 18-49 demographic and 25% overall from Season 4.
The numbers seem to suggest that some of Arrow’s past mistakes have finally caught up with the show.
Fan grumbling started on the back end of Season 3 as the Ra’s al Ghul arc started taking some risky (and probably unnecessary) twists. That grumbling became far louder last season. It doesn’t take long in reading comment boards to see most viewers blame Felicity and the writers’ fascination with Olicity with the show’s fallout of favor. The handling of Black Canary, a character as vital to Green Arrow as Robin and Lois Lane are to Batman and Superman, was largely botched as well.
I’d love to see a breakdown of hardcore comic book fans vs. ‘mainstream’ Arrow viewers. I bet the numbers favor the comic book fans. In that case the online chatter probably isn’t just the vocal minority, but representative of the larger fan base frustrated with endless romance drama at the expense of the bada$$ hero they originally tuned in to watch.
Arrow was at its best as the CW Batman analogy. But I doubt even an actual Batman show would retain fans long-term if Batman was portrayed as largely ineffective without the constant guidance of tech whiz Oracle. And fans really don’t like the thought of Batman and Oracle/Batgirl hooking up.
Arrow is probably starting to feel the strain of serving as the linchpin of the CW DC TV Universe. He’s not as natural a springboard for the more fantastic elements of the DCU than say The Flash or the Legends of Tomorrow cast. So outside of the four show crossover with Supergirl, Flash and Legends, hopefully the show will stick to its core concept of a masked vigilante trying to rid his city of corruption.
And maybe it’d be smart on the writers’ part to make Green Arrow more self-sufficient again. One of the themes of the season seems to be further branching out of Team Arrow. It’s always great to see new heroes get worked into the mix, but they don’t all need to have a residency in the Arrow Cave.
For what it’s worth, I really enjoyed the premiere. It felt much more in line with the old days of Arrow than last season. I’m optimistic the writers have learned their lesson. Arrow isn’t on any sort of cancellation watch — the CW wisely doesn’t scrap popular shows due to a few bad seasons — but hopefully Season 5 will turn things around and get the show back on target.
Photo Credits: The CW