TV Check-in: January

tvcheckin-januaryI watch a lot of TV — I should say a ton, as in more than 20 shows a week. So sometimes it’s hard even for me to keep track.

This is the first in a monthly series of TV-Check-ins. I’ll talk about all the shows I’m watching, listing them in tiers of favorites to cuts. And each month, you’ll get to see if any shows changed rank, if any new shows were added to the list, and if any were eliminated. As with most of my TV posts, each show will have a diversity statement so you know where to find diverse TV.

Let me know what shows you’re watching and how you feel about them in the comments!

Note: This list only includes shows that had episodes airing in January. There’s a lot of other shows on my watchlist that are on break.

 

Top Tier: Reliable Favorites

This tier includes the shows that I have no doubt I’ll continue watching throughout the rest of the season, and likely even onto next season if they’re renewed.

Supergirl (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Mondays.
Main cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Chris Wood, Floriana Lima

supergirlSupergirl is close to becoming my favorite of the CW’s superhero shows. This female-led superhero series has stepped up from last season, adding new diverse characters and a more intimidating antagonist. One of those diverse characters is Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), who has an absolutely phenomenal coming out story this season. Her storyline is by far one of the show’s best. Supergirl also isn’t afraid to explore other issues, such as immigration, with a sci-fi twist. The chemistry between Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Wood) is also off the charts, which is fun to watch.

Diversity? The show has multiple people of color and LGBTQ characters. Supergirl is a rare female superhero lead, and she is also an alien; the show uses its numerous alien characters to explore a lot of issues such as immigration and human rights.

Jane the Virgin (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Mondays.
Main cast: Gina Rodriguez, Andrea Navedo, Brett Dier, Yael Grobglas, Ivonne Coll, Jaime Camil, Justin Baldoni, Anthony Mendez (narrator)

jane-the-virginWhile Jane the Virgin certainly isn’t the only romantic dramedy on TV, it has no problem setting itself apart. Jane the Virgin is one of the most original shows on television right now. The show embraces diversity, diving into the Latinx culture of the main family. With a telenovela base, the show has a fun mix of comedy and drama. It’s diversity and telenovela style, combined with an exciting, dramatic plot and complex romances, put this show on top.

Diversity? This show is built on a lot of diversity. Most of the main cast is Latinx, and culture is hugely significant to their characters. The show also deals with issues like immigration and religion. There are also a few minor LGBTQ characters.

Timeless (NBC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Mondays.
Main cast: Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcom Barrett, Sakina Jaffrey, Paterson Joseph, Claudia Doumit, Goran Višnjić

timelessThere’s a lot of time travel on TV these days, but so far, Timeless is doing it right. The main cast is well developed, and the show’s look at history through a historian’s eyes make it all the more interesting. Beyond that, the series is littered with secrets to keep viewers curious. The show has been messing with its formula in the last few episodes, which is keeping it fresh and exciting. Unfortunately, the ratings are low, so the show may not be renewed, but I’m trying to stay hopeful.

Diversity? There are multiple characters of color. One of them is Rufus Carlin (Malcom Barrett) is a black man; he is part of the show’s main trio of characters, who travel back in time together. The show isn’t afraid to address what it’s like to be a black person in history.

The Flash (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale

The Flash is always going to be one of my favorite shows. It’s one of the best superhero shows on the CW (and I think on TV). The show is flashy without overdoing it, full of heart, and has a powerfully consistent tone. It’s a great blend of action, sci-fi, comedy, and emotion.

Diversity? The main cast features numerous actors of color. There’s also a blended family, a major interracial relationship, and a few minor gay characters.

Superstore (NBC)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Thursdays.
Main cast: America Ferrera, Ben Feldman, Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Bloom, Mark McKinney

superstoreSuperstore was funny in its first season, but this smart comedy is leagues better in season two. The show has clearly found its stride. Amidst the laughs, the show is fleshing out its cast of characters. Superstore explores working class issues with a diverse cast, giving it a unique spot among today’s comedy TV.

Diversity? The show has a lot of diversity, with both characters of color and LGBTQ characters. The series also has a character with a disability; however, this character is played by an able-bodied actor.

The Good Place (NBC)

Season one has ended. Not yet renewed.
Main cast: Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson

The Good Place thrives with its unique afterlife concept; it’s nice to see a comedy with a solid driving plot. The show has some solid comedy, but it’s the constant twists and turns that make it a strong show. The Good Place manages to keep viewers guessing throughout the season, ending episodes on cliffhangers and reinventing the series with each new twist.

Diversity? The show has multiple actors of color, though it doesn’t do too much to actually explore their diversity.

How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Thursdays.
Main cast: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Karla Souza, Charlie Weber, Liza Well, Conrad Ricamora

How to Get Away With Murder has no trouble rising above the pack of law and crime shows. It has a diverse cast, intense plot, and a willingness to take risks. Viola Davis could keep the show afloat on her own with her performance as Annalise Keating — luckily, she doesn’t have to; the show is bolstered with its strong writing and success in almost all areas.

Diversity? There is a very diverse main cast, including multiple people of color and LGBTQ characters. Viola Davis is the show’s lead actress, and she plays a bisexual black woman.

 

Middle Tier: Solid Shows

This tier includes the shows that I’m really happy with, but a big mistake could always stop me from watching them.

Gotham (Fox)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Mondays.
Main cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Morena Baccarin, Jessica Lucas, Chris Chalk, Drew Powell, Michael Chiklis, Maggie Geha, Benedict Samuel

Although Gotham‘s third season has probably been my least favorite of the show so far, it’s starting to turn around. The first part of the season was spent with a lot of slow buildup. But now a lot of the characters are shifting, with new circumstances significantly affecting their development. This, combined with the return of Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), is setting up the season for a strong second half. With Jerome, the season will finally have an exciting enough villain to build real tension. Unfortunately, there’s only one more episode until the mid-season break, so we’ll have to wait to see if the rest of the season is better than how it started.

Diversity? There are some characters of color and LGBTQ characters in the main cast.

The Fosters (Freeform)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Sherri Saum, Teri Polo, David Lambert, Noah Centineo, Cierra Ramirez, Maia Mitchell, Hayden Byerly, Danny Nucci

This show is built on a foundation of diversity, which is part of why I’ve always enjoyed it. It features an interracial lesbian couple and their children, most of whom are adopted. These children also have diverse backgrounds; two are Hispanic, and one is gay. The show has also featured numerous other characters of color, transgender characters, and other LGBTQ characters. The second half of the season premieres this week, so technically I haven’t seen any new episodes this month, but it’s on the list nonetheless.

Diverse characters? Read the summary above; this show is loaded with diversity.

Teen Wolf (MTV)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Tyler Posey, Dylan O’Brien, Holland Roden, Shelley Hennig, Dylan Sprayberry, Linden Ashby, Melissa Ponzio, J.R. Bourne

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I still watch Teen Wolf (it definitely falls in the guilty pleasure category), but this is the final season, so I’m seeing it through. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so even if the story gets a little fragmented at points, I enjoy it. The show is going for a bit more of an emotional standpoint this season, and it’s working. The villains themselves are dragging the season down though. We’ll see if it gets better as the series comes to a close.

Diversity? There are a couple actors of color on the show, and it always manages to have at least a couple LGBTQ characters present.

This is Us (NBC)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Sullivan, Ron Cephas Jones

this-is-usI’d like this show a lot if it wasn’t for the usually boring flashbacks and the terrible storylines that Kate (Chrissy Metz) has. Her character is almost nothing more than her weight and an instalove romance. She breaks free of that every once in a while, but then she falls back into the pattern. Otherwise, the show has a lot of interesting, three-dimensional characters. The show is loaded with emotional drama, and it is genuinely affecting in its best moments. It’s clear that a lot of people love this show — it’s already been renewed for two more seasons.

Diverse characters? There are multiple characters of color, as well as a couple LGBTQ characters (one of whom is bisexual). It also features a blended family.

Legends of Tomorrow (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, Dominic Purcell, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Nick Zano, Amy Pemberton, Matt Letscher

Legends of Tomorrow may not be quite as good as The Flash or Supergirl, but it’s exciting and flashy and full of action. The show has eliminated its problems from season one; it better balances its characters now, it removed the boring characters, and it added much more intimidating antagonists. There are times when it doesn’t feel like it’s moving forward enough though. Even with the “Legion of Doom” as the show’s new villains, the tension could use some more buildup.

Diverse characters? There are multiple characters of color, as well as LGBTQ characters. Like Timeless, the main cast includes characters of color that travel back in time. The show does well when it addresses what it’s like to be a person of color in history.

The Real O’Neals (ABC)

Airs at 9:30 ET/8:30 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Martha Plimpton, Jay R. Ferguson, Noah Galvin, Matthew Shively, Bebe Wood, Mary Hollis Inboden

the-real-onealsThe Real O’Neals may not be the best comedy on TV, but the show knows its identity, and that’s the best part about it. The blend of hilarious imaginative scenes, the family comedy, and exploration of some legitimate LGBTQ issues is keeping this show strong. It’s one of few shows with a gay lead, so that’s another plus.

Diversity? The show’s most prominent character is gay, and there are other LGBTQ characters throughout. However, there are almost no people of color in the show.

Arrow (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Josh Segarra

Arrow has been struggling lately. Between the flashbacks being almost useless and the show loading itself with undeveloped new characters, it just isn’t the success that it used to be. The episodes this month have been an improvement. Using Earth-2 Laurel (Katie Cassidy) as a villain is an interesting twist; it’ll be nice to have a villain with serious emotional impact.

Diverse characters? There are some characters of color and LGBTQ characters in the main cast.

Speechless (ABC)

Airs at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, Mason Cook, Micah Fowler, Kyla Kenedy, Cedric Yarbrough

speechless-screenTV: Speechless (ABC) – How Was the Pilot?

With an authentic representation of a character with cerebral palsy and some well-acted comedy, Speechless easily sets itself apart in the genre. It’s a comedy with depth, which is always appreciated. The show has been steady all season, balancing the laughs with solid storylines.

Diverse characters? Having a character with cerebral palsy played by an actor with cerebral palsy is enough diversity to make this show work. It also includes a few other diverse characters in the background and one character of color in the main cast.

The Magicians (Syfy)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Jason Ralph, Stella Maeve, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Hale Appleman, Arjun Gupta, Summer Bishil

I’m a big fan of dark fantasy, and that’s exactly what The Magicians is. It’s sometimes quirky and funny, but for the most part it is dark and dives headfirst into its characters pain. However, there are points when the narrative can become problematic in the same way Game of Thrones can be (the book series is especially problematic when it comes to female characters).

Diverse characters? There are a few characters of color and LGBTQ characters.

Incorporated (Syfy)

Season one has ended. Not yet renewed.
Main cast: Sean Teale, Allison Miller, Eddie Ramos, Julia Ormond, Dennis Haysbert, Damon Herriman, Douglas Nyback, Denyse Tontz

incorporatedThis dystopian, sci-fi drama takes place in Milwaukee in 2074, when the world has been ravaged by climate change. While the show echoes some common sci-fi and dystopian tropes, it has enough excitement and interest to stand on its own. The way Incorporated looks at the future is frightening at points, because at so many points it feels realistic. I really enjoyed the first season, so I’m hoping it’ll be renewed for second.

Diverse characters? The main cast has multiple actors of color, one of whom is a gay man. Given the show’s dystopian genre, there’s also a focus on social and economic class. The main character is also a refugee.

Emerald City (NBC)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Fridays.
Main cast: Adria Arjona, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ana Ularu, Mido Hamada, Gerran Howell, Jordan Loughran, Joely Richardson, Vincent D’Onofrio

This fantasy series is a darker, stranger take on The Wizard of Oz. And I do mean it when I say darker. There are still aspects that are reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, such as the twister in Kansas that brings Dorothy (Adria Arjona) and Toto to Oz, but the universe itself is much larger and more intense. The ratings have been dropping, but I’ve been enjoying the show so far. The plot has a solid (but sometimes confusing) forward momentum, and the characters are loaded with complexity.

Diverse characters? The cast includes multiple characters of color, including the actress who plays Dorothy. There is also a character who has an interesting gender identity storyline.

 

Low Tier: On the Chopping Block

These shows have some redeeming to do if I’m going to continue watching them.

Shadowhunters (Freeform)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Monday.
Main cast: Katherine McNamara, Dominic Sherwood, Alberto Rosende, Matthew Daddario, Emeraude Toubia, Isaiah Mustafa, Harry Shum Jr.

Let’s be honest: I’m only watching Shadowhunters for the gay couple Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.). I enjoyed the story at first, but it’s just gotten worst as the show has progressed. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to keep watching much longer.

Diversity? The series has multiple LGBTQ characters and some characters of color, including one bisexual Asian character.

Beyond (Freeform)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Mondays. All episodes available for streaming online.
Main cast: Burkely Duffield, Jordan Calloway, Dilan Gwyn, Jeff Pierre, Jonathan Whitesell, Michael McGrady, Romy Rosemont

beyondTV: ‘Beyond is an imperfect supernatural drama

Honestly the only reason I managed to watch this entire season is because the full 10-episode season was available online the day of the premiere. I knocked it out quickly. If I had to wait a week between each episode, I surely would’ve lost interest. Beyond is a bit of a fragmented show. It builds up the basics, forgets the development, and moves on to other things. It’s a series that has a lot of potential but little punch. If it’s renewed, I doubt I’ll watch it. If you decide to watch it, just binge it all at once; it’s not worth the wait.

Diverse characters? This show isn’t very diverse, but there are a few characters of color.

Quantico (ABC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Monday.
Main cast: Priyanka Chopra, Jake McLaughlin, Aunjanue Ellis, Yasmine Al Massri, Johanna Braddy, Russell Tovey, Pearl Thusi, Aarón Díaz, Blair Underwood

quanticoQuantico has been struggling ever since the middle of season one (when it had an absolutely terrible gay storyline). It’s doing a little bit better now, but the story is still all over the place. I want to like the show, but I’m having a hard time keeping interest.

Diversity? The series has a very diverse cast, including an Indian lead. There are also a couple LGBTQ characters.

New Girl (Fox)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays.
Main cast: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris

Now in its sixth season, New Girl is struggling to stay fresh. I’m still watching out of dedication — after five seasons, I want to see it through. But at this point, while the show is still funny, it’s forgettable. I’m hoping the show finds its stride again soon, but honestly it’d probably be better if the show ended soon.

Diversity? The show has a few prominent characters of color, and it does actually explore that diversity every once in a while.

Frequency (CW)

Season one has ended. Not yet renewed.
Main cast: Peyton List, Riley Smith, Devin Kelley, Mekhi Phifer, Anthony Ruivivar, Lenny Jacobson, Daniel Bonjour

frequencyBy the end of season one, I was only watching Frequency because there were just a few episodes left. The show certainly has some good moments. Watching the past impact the present and vice versa is exciting and enjoyable, and the show plays up its tension well. But the series just isn’t as engaging and exciting as it should be. Season one ended on a relatively positive note; at this point I’m hoping the keep that as the ending and don’t renew the series.

Diverse characters? This show isn’t very diverse, but there are a few characters of color.

Riverdale (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Thursdays.
Main cast: K.J. Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Ashleigh Murray, Mädchen Amick, Luke Perry, Marisol Nichols

riverdaleI wanted to be excited about Riverdale, but that fell apart when I heard the blowup about Jughead (Cole Sprouse) not being asexual like in the comics. He’s set to have some sort of romance storyline this season, but maybe later on he’ll come to terms with his asexuality. Still, the erasure is an issue right now. On top of that, the high school murder mystery is unoriginal. So far, it feels like the show is just copy-and-pasting elements from multiple other shows. I’m going to watch the second episode before deciding if it’s off my list or not.

Diverse characters? There are some characters of color and LGBTQ characters, but the asexuality erasure is an issue.

 

Bottom Tier: Eliminated This Month

This show, sadly, is already off my watch list.

Star (Fox)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Jude Demorest, Brittany O’Grady, Ryan Destiny, Amiyah Scott, Quincy Brown, Benjamin Bratt, Queen Latifah

starTV: Music drama ‘Star’ disappoints

Star is essentially the first draft of a final project. Hastily done and woefully in need of revision. This TV series about a girl group’s rise to fame needs a lot of polishing if it’s ever going to shine. It’s a bit all over the place, and it’s somewhat problematic at points. I made it through two episodes before I knew I had to stop. It’s a shame too, because it has a very diverse cast and had certainly had potential.

Diverse characters? The main cast is almost all nonwhite, and it has more than one transgender character.

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