CW’s Collapse By the Numbers

CW’s Collapse By the Numbers

The Red Wedding Day for the CW has ended and it was, in fact, a blood bath.

And … I want to stress this… Things are looking nigh impossible to get any of these back.

And I scream at the top of my lungs…

Before I get into this, it’s important to note why so many things were canceled.

The CW, as I mentioned before, has never been profitable as a network. Overall, this wasn’t actually a bad thing as they made their money in rebroadcast rights. In other words, Netflix’s deals (where right after the season ends, they have the whole thing on Netflix) was bolstering CW. 90% of the cancellations this year are due to the fact that the deal? Is over.

Why is it over? HBOMax and Paramount+. Remember that CW is a combination of CBS and Warner Bros. CBS has Paramount+ for their stream and it’s doing pretty well. Warner Bros has HBOMax which, also, is doing pretty good. Also Netflix is bleeding subscribers left and right due to some questionable actions (does anyone think commercials are a good idea? Peacock, I’m looking at you), and are cutting back.

Tangentially related, Netflix recently told their employees that if they don’t approve of the content Netflix produces, they should quit. This has been painted as a ‘anti Woke’ move, but I saw it as a ‘pre layoff’ move. See, if you quit, they don’t pay severance. But if they lay you off… Right, you got it. Well on the 17th (the day before this post went up) Netflix laid off around 150 people.

On top of that, we have the other 10% of cancelations, which are Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow, who are in a weird place. Turns out no one wants to pay for their studios. Bonus? Thanks to the 2011 Netflix deal, all those canceled shows are stuck in that same streaming hell of a show I loved (and the other night dreamed there was a secret episode), One Day at a Time.

For what it’s worth, though, I don’t think this is a queer specific event. I think this is the fallout from the Peak TV Bubble being popped.

(Oh and yes, Riverdale is still on that Netflix deal, so that explains that weird decision.)

I said hey hey, hey hey…

Okay, let’s get to the breakdown. First, here are ALL the shows on the CW, since Arrow was new.

ShowBeganEndedRegular
Queers
Emily Owens, MD20122013Yes
Beauty & the Beast20122016No
Arrow20122020No
Reign20132017No
The Tomorrow People20132014No
The Originals20132018Yes
Cult20132013No
The Carrie Diaries20132014Yes
Jane the Virgin20142019Yes
The 10020142020Yes
Star-Crossed20142014Yes
The Flash2014RenewedNo
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend20152019Yes
The Messengers20152015No
iZombie20152019No
Supergirl20162021Yes
Frequency20162021No
No Tomorrow20162017Yes
Containment20162016No
Legends of Tomorrow20162022Yes
Valor20172018Yes
Riverdale2017RenewedYes
Dynasty20172022Yes
Life Sentence20182018Yes
Black Lightning20182021Yes
All American2018RenewedYes
Charmed20182022Yes
Legacies20182022Yes
Batwoman20192022Yes
Pandora20192020Yes
Roswell, New Mexico20192022Yes
In the Dark20192022Yes
Two Sentance Horror Stories2019TBDN/A
Nancy Drew2019RenewedYes
Katy Keene20202022Yes
Stargirl2020RenewedNo
440020212022Yes
The Republic of Sarah20212021Yes
Walker2021RenewedYes
Superman & Lois2021RenewedYes
Kung-Fu2021RenewedYes
Naomi20222022Yes
All American: Homecoming2022RenewedYes
Tom Swift2022TBDYes

Since someone will point it out… Supergirl began in 2015 on CBS, but this is it’s CW era. Also Tom Swift stars a gay male lead and begins next month. Also Two Sentence Horror Stories is a special thing, as it’s an anthology (and has only had one episode with lesbians, it was cute).

It’s a big list! 44 shows! And since the start, CW has been pretty even with how many shows they have on air. The peak was 2019. But we want to get an idea of the cancel/new ratio. Ideally this would be a flat line, right?

YearNew ShowsCanceled Shows
202249
202153
202026
201963
201853
201734
201642
201532
201443
201354
201234

Or in graphical form:

But… we’re a queer oriented website. So what we want to know is the percentage of new shows with queer regulars.

And I’m feeling a little peculiar

Back to that massive table, we can get an idea how often new shows with queers are added. So this is a list of how queer are the new shows:

And that is actually really good. After 2016, it’s been great. But… If you look a the other side…

Logically that number of shows with queers goes it. It has to, as 68% of new shows on the CW every year were queer and only ~50% canceled are queer. If fewer shows with no queers are added, naturally that number goes up. And if you’re dumping over half your shows in one go, yes, it makes sense many will be queer (if not all).

But… what about quality?

I try all the time in this institution

There’s a caveat to this section. See, we don’t have scores per year. We have a show score that is cumulative for the entire run of the show. Which means the only way to really measure is to collect the scores of the shows today.

Looking at just the 2021-22 season, this is a comparison of show scores:

The blue dots are canceled shows, the red are the ones on air. Notice something?

With very few exceptions, everything canceled scored higher on our scales. I will note that shows like Kung-Fu and Walker are a 0 because they don’t have any queer females (just gay men), and there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what we’re bathing out. If we did, I would say those two shows would be a little higher. Well, Kung-Fu would be. Like it’s inspiration, Walker is a bit of a straight guy sausage fest.

What’s Going On?

I wanted to go into this and shout AH HAH! because I could prove that the CW targeted specific shows, that these streamer deals were less advantageous to certain shows, or that it was clear that the biases of gender and sexuality were running rampant.

I can’t.

I’m a little cheesed about that.

The summation I came to with all this, though, is that the CW is, for whatever reason they concoct, going to lose all the quirky, silly, diverse, tongue-in-cheek shows that we’ve loved. There won’t be a network home for a American Telenovela, and there won’t be one for a time-traveling bisexual assassin.

And since none of these got picked up, nor would I expect them to be, by another network, the bubble absolutely is popping. Get ready for more boring procedurals (be they cop or medical), and fewer comics. The CW is going back to the bad days where, Beebo help me, 100% of their shows killed queers, instead of these nice ones where they star them.

Fare thee well, CW. You did pretty good for a decade.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

One thought on “CW’s Collapse By the Numbers

  • Hey so when you say “regular queers”, do you mean all LGBT+ people or just the one this database covers? Because Arrow had two gay male regular characters in Curtis (main in s5-s7), and William (main in s8). The Flash also had a lesbian main character in s5 (Nora, Barry’s daughter). Reign had Kenna who slept with a woman once.

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