TV Check-in: February

tvcheckin-februaryAnother month has gone by, which means it’s time for another TV Check-in.

Starting with this second check-in, I’m adding numerical rankings. It’s hard for me to decide with all the varied genres, but now you’ll know exactly how I feel about each series.

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 February. Spoilers ahead!

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.

 

1. 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-virgin

LAST CHECK-IN: Top Tier

Jane the Virgin upended its story with a terrific twist this month, changing the architecture of the show as we’ve known it. The death of Michael (Brett Dier) was both shocking and believable (the show has been setting this up for a while now). And Gina Rodriguez’s acting as Jane has been more phenomenal than ever with this twist. Following Michael’s death, the show jumped forward three years, giving a new set of storylines. This refresh makes it feel like a new show in some ways, but it still has the same heart that has kept it strong thus far.

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.

 

2. 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

CONRAD RICAMORA, VIOLA DAVISLAST CHECK-IN: Top Tier

How to Get Away With Murder always manages to stand out. Between the diverse cast and the exceptional acting (I always have to highlight Viola Davis for her role as Annalise Keating), the series is able to differentiate itself from the typical law drama. The season came to an end this month, keeping up its strong pace. The season finale had plenty of twists on its own, and it did well to set up a clear plotline for season four.

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.

 

3. WHEN WE RISE (ABC)

9-11 ET/8-10 CT on Feb. 27 and March 1-3.
Main cast: Guy Pearce, Austin McKenzie, Michael K. Williams, Ken Jones,  Mary-Louise Parker, Emily Skeggs, Rachel Griffiths, Fiona Dourif, Ivory Aquino, and many others.

TV: Why to Watch ‘When We Rise’

when-we-riseLAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired

It’s hard to rank When We Rise given that only two hours aired in February (the second episode comes on March 1), but those first two hours were phenomenal, so that’s how the series ended up so high on the list. When We Rise unflinchingly portrays pivotal moments in the LGBTQ rights movement. The genuine and human approach to this story gives it an emotional focus and helps overcome the dense nature of the series. Covering so many years of such a major, historical movement is difficult; sometimes the show feels like it’s packing too much in. But highlighting four primary characters prevents this density from overtaking the show’s impact.

Diverse characters? This series is all diverse characters all the time. It explores the LGBTQ rights movement from multiple angles and puts early racial and gender divides into perspective.

 

4. 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

superstore

LAST CHECK-IN: Top Tier

I’d never call myself a big comedy fan, but Superstore hits all the right notes for my sense of humor. Very few other shows make me laugh out loud at all, and Superstore does it constantly. This, combined with the focus on working class issues and humanized characters, puts the comedy high on my list.

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.

 

5. 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 Us - Season PilotLAST CHECK-IN: Middle Tier

After the last two episodes, “Jack Pearson’s Son” and “Memphis,” This is Us has rocketed ahead on my list of shows. The emotional development in these episodes has been stellar, setting up the first season for a strong conclusion. Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and William (Ron Cephas Jones) have easily pushed ahead as the show’s two best characters, especially in “Memphis,” which is easily the show’s best episode. Now if only Kate (Chrissy Metz) would become a stronger character, This is Us would be rock solid.

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.

 

6. 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

supergirlLAST CHECK-IN: Top Tier

Supergirl overtook The Flash and became my favorite CW superhero show this season. It continues to push the diversity of its characters, humanizing them in ways many superhero series fail to do. At some points, the character drama becomes more of a priority than the action; for some, this might not be ideal, but for me, it revitalizes the series. Sometimes the show might focus a bit too much on the romance, but the chemistry between the two main couples makes it worth it. Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) have done Alex’s coming out plot incredible justice. And while the relationship between Supergirl/Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El (Chris Wood) seemed out of place at first, their chemistry is palpable. If the show continues to balance its character drama and action, it’ll remain high on my list.

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.

 

7. 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

timeless

LAST CHECK-IN: Top Tier

I can’t help but be worried about Timeless‘s chance of renewal given its weak ratings throughout the season. But the weak ratings aren’t representative of the show’s quality. It has a set of compelling characters whose stories all have plenty of emotional punch. And Timeless treats time travel like TV should; there are so many time travel shows on TV nowadays, but Timeless manages to do the subgenre right. It has the right amount of focus on the history itself and the drama of its characters. I can only hope it’ll be renewed, especially with the season finale’s numerous twists and cliffhangers.

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.

 

8. HUMANS (AMC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Mondays.
Main cast: Lucy Carless, Pixie Davies, Tom Goodman-Hill, Neil Maskell, Colin Morgan, Katherine Parkinson, Theo Stevenson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sam Palladio, Marshall Allman, Emily Berrington, Ruth Bradley, Gemma Chan, Ivanno Jeremiah, Will Tudor, Sonya Cassidy

LAST CHECK-IN: Season not yet aired

British sci-fi drama Humans had a strong first season, but the second is off to an even stronger start. In the series, advanced artificial intelligence is a major part of society, with human-like robots called “synths” taking on caretaking roles in families as well as numerous other jobs. But some of these synths develop consciousness, becoming humans in their own right. The series explores the stories of these synths and those aiding and fighting them, creating a compelling story about what it means to be human.

Diverse characters? The British series has numerous actors of color, with an Asian actress at the forefront. Humans also spends a lot of time focusing on human rights for the synths, which gives it a diverse focus.

 

9. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Top tier

The Flash has always been one of my favorite series. The blended family at the center of the series is full of well-developed characters, and having a family like this at the center gives the show a ton of heart. And while the current overarching plot isn’t the strongest right now, the tension is building to a potentially powerful climax. A little more forward momentum will get The Flash on track to a great rest of the season.

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.

 

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.

 

10. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

The Fosters continues to be full of a ton of heart and emotional storytelling. The family-focused drama features an interracial lesbian couple and their children, most of whom are adopted. At this point in the season, a lot of the stories are hitting an emotional peak. As always, The Fosters portrays more important issues than almost any other show. The way that the series is portraying issues foster children face in and out of the system is incredibly important as well. I do wish the series would move more toward the balance of joy and emotional drama it has had in past seasons’ this season has been a little darker than usual.

Diverse characters? The family-focused drama 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.

 

11. LEGION (FX)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Bil Irwin, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, Jean Smart

legionLAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired

This Marvel sci-fi series is character-driven and visually exceptional. It may be a comic-based series full of superpowered characters, but this is nothing like the other superhero series on TV. The series is haunting and complex, and it has a very clear aesthetic and voice. At times it can be a bit confusing or feel just a little slow, but it’s clear Legion is building to a powerful climax.

Diverse characters? The series has a couple characters of color.

 

12. 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?

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

Speechless is a well-acted comedy with an original, centered focus. The show balances the DiMeo family very well, and this month the show continued to expand the different characters. The series has managed to stay consistent in quality all season. With plenty of laughs and an authentic representation of a character with cerebral palsy, the show is on track to remain strong throughout the season.

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.

 

13. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

Legends of Tomorrow has always had its ups and downs, but the new use of Rip (Arthur Darvill) as a villain is breathing so much life into the series. Darvill’s take on this new side of the character is well-acted and believable. And the emotional drama this change has brought is really enhancing the series. It’s inevitable that Rip will become a good guy again sooner or later, so I hope Legends continues to capitalize on Darvill’s performance.

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.

 

14. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

The Magicians is very hit or miss. It has problematic moments, it has brilliant moments. It has a lot of dark moments, and sometimes it’s incredibly quirky. The bottom line here is that I’m a fan of dark fantasy, and that’s exactly what this show is. I preferred the first season, but I like the way the last few episodes have challenged the characters.

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

 

15. 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

emerald-cityLAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

Emerald City is as good as canceled (someone please prove me wrong), so I’m just enjoying it while I can. This dark take on The Wizard of Oz is getting stronger as the season goes on. Dorothy (Adria Arjona) has developed as a character in ways I haven’t expected, and I can’t wait to see what happens to her as the season reaches its conclusion. Tip (Jordan Loughran) is by far my favorite character, highlighted by a gender identity story that is unique and emotional.

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.

 

16. 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-oneals

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

The Real O’Neals isn’t by any means excellent, but it knows its identity as a show, and that means a lot. I’m primarily still watching the show right now because its one of few current shows with a gay lead. But I do appreciate how the show has handled Kenny’s (Noah Galvin) first relationship and how it has impacted his character arc. Plus, the last few episodes (especially “The Real Heartbreak”) have made me laugh more than usual.

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.

 

17. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Middle tier

It’s difficult for me to remember a time when I haven’t been disappointed in Arrow. The show is doing better now than in the beginning of the season, but not by much. The new team members finally feel decently developed, which helps, but the plot still feels like it’s on a road to nowhere. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m enjoying the CW’s other DC shows, Arrow would be on the chopping block.

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

 

Low Tier: On the Chopping Block

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

 

18. NEW GIRL (FOX)

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

LAST CHECK-IN: Low tier

New Girl is okay, but forgettable. The show isn’t nearly as good as older seasons, but it does still manage to make me laugh a bit. Honestly the only reason I’m still watching is because I’ve watched five seasons already, so it feels like I’m too far along to stop.

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

 

19. THE 100 (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesday.
Main cast: Eliza Taylor, Paige Turco, Eli Goree, Bob Morley, Marie Avgeropoulos, Christopher Larkin, Devon Bostick, Isaiah Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Lindsey Morgan, Richard Harmon, Zach McGowan

DemonsLAST CHECK-IN: Season not yet aired

This season of The 100 isn’t much better or worse than the first two seasons (anything is better than the third season), but nonetheless I’m starting to lose interest. The series has loads of potential and does tackle some legitimate issues. Right now it just comes down to whether or not I can become as engaged as I was during the first two seasons.

Diversity? The show has a fairly diverse cast, with several characters of color and a few LGBTQ characters, including a bisexual lead.

 

20. 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

LAST CHECK-IN: Low tier

I finished the first season of Beyond in January since all the episodes were available online after the premiere. The show finished its season at the end of February. It has been renewed for a second season, but I doubt I’ll continue watching. Read my review to see what I thought of season one.

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

 

Bottom Tier: Eliminated This Month

These show, sadly, are already off my watch list.

 

21. 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.

LAST CHECK-IN: Low tier

I was only watching this season for the sake of the gay couple Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.). But the show is just so much worse than it was during season one. The plot is all over the place, and the writing is weak. At this point, it’s just not worth watching.

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

 

22. 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

riverdaleLAST CHECK-IN: Low Tier

I had essentially eliminated Riverdale last month when I heard the blowup about Jughead (Cole Sprouse) not being asexual like in the comics. Those behind the show have said there is potential for him to be asexual in the future, but that just feels like problematic baiting. I decided to watch the second episode before eliminating the show. After Riverdale‘s second week, I just wasn’t interested. I’ve seen enough high school dramas and enough murder mystery. Riverdale doesn’t feel like it has anything new to offer.

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

 

23. 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

quanticoLAST CHECK-IN: Low Tier

I don’t even know what to say about Quantico anymore. I think I gave up on the show back in the beginning of the season, but kept watching it out of habit. I want to enjoy it because I like Priyanka Chopra and Russell Tovey, but that’s just not enough. The show barely makes sense anymore, and I don’t care enough to try to follow the plot.

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

 

24. POWERLESS (NBC)

Airs at 8:30 ET/7:30 CT on Thursdays.
Main cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi, Christina Kirk, Ron Funches, Alan Tudyk

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired

I don’t have much to say about Powerless; I barely made it through the first half-hour episode. The bottom line: it just isn’t funny. It feels forced. I love the concept, but it wasn’t executed well.

Diversity? The show has a pretty diverse cast, with a few lead actors of color.

 

Past TV Check-ins: January

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