TV Check-in: March

March TV included premieres of new shows like Shots Fired, finales of shows like Legion, and the return of others like Empire. A lot of these shows had a roller coaster’s worth of ups and downs, and that shook up the rankings for this TV Check-in.

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 March. Spoilers ahead!

 

Top Tier: Best This Month

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

1. LEGION (FX)

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

legionLAST CHECK-IN: 11

As this Marvel series has gone on, I’ve found myself enjoying it more and more. This sci-fi series is incredibly original, strange, and trippy in the best ways. And Aubrey Plaza has absolutely nailed her role as the season’s villain. The penultimate episode was phenomenal, bringing the show’s exceptional visuals and style to life alongside some major, action-packed plot development. And while the season finale spent a tiny bit too much time setting up season two, it still successfully brought the plot to a close. Now that the season is over, this is a great show to binge watch.

Diverse characters? The series has a couple characters of color and a gay character.

 

2. JANE THE VIRGIN (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Mondays. On hiatus until April 24.
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: 1

Jane the Virgin has continued to excel since the season’s major twist. The twist has given the show a refresh, complete with new storylines and characters. Alba’s (Ivonne Coll) new storyline is adding a new, romantic dimension to her character, and Coll is excelling in the role. There’s also a new companionship between Jane (Gina Rodriguez), Petra (Yael Grobglas) and Rafael (Justin Baldoni) that provides a new familial center to the series.

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.

 

3. 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: 8

This British sci-fi drama has had a brilliant second season, delving into intense issues of morality with the human-like “synths.” As more and more synths gain consciousness, the series uses them more as a device to explore human rights. Humans finds a unique but powerful blend of action, emotion, and sci-fi that makes it a top-notch show.

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.

 

4. 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: 10

As always, The Fosters continues setting a phenomenal example for the exploration of diverse identities on TV. The most recent episode “Dirty Laundry” had a focus on Aaron (Eliot Fletcher) a transgender male — even better: he’s played by a transgender male actor. The episode dealt with his family’s reaction to his transition, even years after he came out to them. The episode also mentioned that his family was accepting when he came out as lesbian, but didn’t accept him coming out as transgender as easily; this added a lot of development and complexity to his family. To add to that, Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Aaron’s relationship is finally taking off, which is progressive in itself. It’s extremely rare to see the lead character of a show nowadays dating a transgender character. And while “Dirty Laundry” was easily this month’s best episode (maybe the best episode of The Fosters this season), the other episodes were also successes.

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. There are also numerous other characters with diverse backgrounds, including a currently recurring transgender character.

 

5. 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: 4

Superstore keeps getting better and better as the season goes on. The show’s most recent episode dove into some challenging territory, going deeper into Mateo’s (Nico Santos) undocumented immigrant narrative. The series is adding a lot of complexities to various character relationships while retaining its high standard of working-class comedy.

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

 

6. 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: 5

The series tackled William’s (Ron Cephas Jones) death in the last two episodes, exploring how he impacted the different characters. The writing and emotions at play were all powerful with this storyline. We also saw more of the beginning of Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) relationship; it was a nice way to close out the first season, but it was disappointing that it held back the reveal that the last few episodes seemed to be hinting at.

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.

 

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.

7. INTO THE BADLANDS (AMC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Sunday.
Main cast: Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Marton Csokas, Nick Frost

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired

After the disappointment that was Marvel’s Iron FistInto the Badlands has been the perfect medicine. This is a martial arts drama done right: plenty of incredibly choreographed action and a dark plot. Plus, this season, the addition of Nick Frost as Bajie adds some much needed comedic relief. The show is best when it focuses on Sunny (Daniel Wu) and the Widow (Emily Beecham); the two are the most developed with the clearest motivations, and Wu and Beecham are two of the shows best actors. Hopefully the show doesn’t spend too much time on Quinn (Marton Csokas) and his people, because that’s when the show is at its weakest.

Diversity? The show has a Chinese lead, and it has a few other characters of color as well.

 

8. 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: 14

The Magicians is such a strange (but good) mix of dark fantasy and whimsy; the show is simply its own brand of weird. The last few episodes have included a music number, the massacre of talking trees, and a bank heist. It’s all a strange blend of events, but the best part of this show is how it manages to tie all of the shifts in mood seamlessly. It’s heartbreaking one moment and hilarious in another, but The Magicians never skips a beat.

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

 

9. ARROW (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Wednesdays. On hiatus until April 26.
Main cast: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Josh Segarra, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy

LAST CHECK-IN: 17

Arrow managed to do a 180 this month, spinning the season from underdeveloped and repetitive to something darker and more enticing. Stephen Amell has been truly dedicated and compelling in his performance as Oliver this season, especially with all of the character’s ups and downs. But even more compelling is Josh Segarra as Adrian Chase/Prometheus. As soon as we learned Prometheus’s identity, the season improved because we got to see Adrian being evil out in the open. Segarra has taken full advantage of the role; it’s nice to finally have a developed, intimidating villain. Arrow has also managed to finally flesh out all of the new characters at this point, so it’s on track to stay strong for the rest of the season. My only gripe is the continuation of the flashbacks. They at least feel more connected to the present-day plot now that the Bratva is in Star City; I really hope this is all set up for Anatoli (David Nykl) to be next season’s main villain. (In the comics, Anatoli is the villain KGBeast.)

Diverse characters? There are some characters of color (two black characters and one Hispanic character in the main cast) and LGBTQ (one gay character in the main cast) characters.

 

10. THE 100 (CW)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesday. On hiatus until April 26.
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: 19

The 100 is starting to pick up as we near the end of the season. With five episodes left, the characters are running out of time to find a way to survive the “death wave.” This is driving them into some deeply ambiguous moral territory; it is those moral issues that The 100 excels most with. “God Complex,” the most recent episode, was easily the show’s best all season, so hopefully the series keeps up this momentum until the end.

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

 

11. 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: 13

Legends of Tomorrow is having a much better second season: we have much more exciting villains, better character development, and even flashier, sci-fi drama. The season has done well in focusing on its overarching plot, but the plot has gotten a little muddled in the last few episodes. It was fun to see how the villains used the Spear of Destiny to rewrite reality in “Doomworld.” But there are also issues here. I’ve never been a fan of when a plot revolves around an object that is essentially all powerful. This is for a simple reason: when the villains obtain that object, the writers have to dumb them down so they don’t use it to achieve an irreversible victory. It’s hard to believe that the Legion of Doom wouldn’t have eliminated the Legends in their new reality. Pushing that aside, it’s been a fun, strong season overall.

Diverse characters? There are multiple characters of color, as well as LGBTQ (Sara is bisexual) characters. Given that it’s a time travel show, the two black characters in the main cast (Jax and Amaya) have allowed the series to explore what it’s like to be black in history.

 

12. THE FLASH (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Tuesdays. On hiatus until April 25.
Main cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale

LAST CHECK-IN: 9

The Flash has been one of my favorite shows for a while, but this third season is much weaker than series has been in the past. Some elements of the plot feel recycled, and oftentimes the plot feels as if it is at a standstill. Savitar, the season’s primary antagonist, feels underdeveloped at this point since the show has yet to reveal his identity. On top of all that, Barry (Grant Gustin) is simply moping a bit too much; the show overall needs to lighten up. However, the musical episode this month provided a wonderful break from the rest of the season. It was lively, fun, and didn’t take itself too seriously.

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.

 

13. SUPERGIRL (CW)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Mondays. On hiatus until April 24.
Main cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Chris Wood, Floriana Lima

supergirlLAST CHECK-IN: 6

Supergirl had excelled as it explored the beginnings of Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie Sawyer’s (Floriana Lima) relationship. The first season also tackled a variety of other major issues. However, as the season goes on, the plot is getting muckier. It’s hard to tell who the main antagonist is (we haven’t heard anything from Cadmus in a while), and the show keeps adding new antagonists to the mix. And while I’ve really enjoyed Kara (Melissa Benoist) and Mon-El’s (Chris Wood) romance, it’s starting to take up a bit too much screentime. The show needs more balance and a more focused overarching story when it returns from its hiatus.

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.

 

14. EMPIRE (FOX)

Airs at 9 ET/8 CT on Wednesday.
Main cast: Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, Bryshere Y. Gray, Jussie Smollett, Trai Byers, Grace Gealey, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gabourey Sidibe, Serayah, Bre-Z, Morocco Omari, Xzibit

LAST CHECK-IN: On hiatus

Empire has always been entertaining and dramatic, but it feels like it has been stuck in the same territory for a while. Some different plot elements feel like they’ve been going on forever at this point. While some characters, like Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray), Jamal (Jussie Smollett), and Andre (Trai Byers), have legitimate character arcs this season, I’m questioning the direction Lucious (Terrence Howard) and Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) are moving in. I’m always a fan of Henson’s acting; her performance as Cookie is one of the best parts of the show. But at this point, the back and forth between Lucious and Cookie is tired, and Lucious’s sabotaging the rest of the family is even more tired. Maybe it’s just me getting bored (I don’t think the three-month hiatus helped), but I think the show could benefit from a few new elements to keep it fresh.

Diversity? The cast is primarily black, and it also includes a few other 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: 15

The only episode of Emerald City to air this month was the season finale. It ended on a strong note, clearly attempting to set up season two (though it’s not too likely there will be one). Dorothy (Adria Arjona) grew more complicated and intriguing as a character throughout the season, bringing her to take a stand of her own in the season finale. This was short-lived though, so if the show returns, I hope to see her fine a clearer purpose.

Diverse characters? The cast includes multiple characters of color, including the Latina 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: 16

Season two of The Real O’Neals ended on a high note this month. The finale explored new territory while staying true to its characters. That’s always been the best part of this show: it knows its identity and the identities of its characters. I hope, if the show is renewed, that it further explores Allison (Ramona Young) as a character, as she was the focus of some of the finale’s most well-written moments.

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.

 

 

Low Tier: On the Chopping Block

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

17. SHOTS FIRED (FOX)

Airs at 8 ET/7 CT on Wednesday.
Main cast: Sanaa Lathan, Stephan James, Helen Hunt, Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Moyer, Will Patton, Jill Hennessy, DeWanda Wise, Conor Leslie, Tristan Wilds, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Aisha Hinds

LAST CHECK-IN: Not yet aired

There are moments when Shots Fired excels. It has compelling, well-acted and emotional moments. It has times when it dives into the issues of racism and police shootings with intricate storytelling. And lead actress Sanaa Lathan ignites the screen every time she’s in view. But Shots Fired isn’t as tight as it could be. It has some plot points that feel incredibly unnecessary; the show fails to focus on the pivotal moments, and the extraneous subplots detract from its success. Then there are some other elements that make it seem like any crime show on TV. It’s early in the season, so it’s hard to tell if the show will lean more toward the strong or weak side, but for now, there are plenty of reasons to watch.

Diversity? The cast is primarily black, with many primary white characters as well.

 

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: 18

Once again, I have to say that I hope that New Girl ends soon. So far, season six feels like it’s bringing the show to a close. Most of the characters have their careers and relationships where they want them, and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) seem like they’re about to get back together. There have been some fun character developments this season (we finally know Schmidt’s (Max Greenfield) first name), and I’ve enjoyed most of the episodes, but I don’t think there’s much more the show can do. I’ll keep crossing my fingers that (if it’s renewed) next season will be the last.

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

 

19. 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

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

LAST CHECK-IN: 12

Speechless only aired two episodes this month, and while they certainly weren’t bad, they also weren’t excellent. It is still a funny, well-acted comedy, and it remains important for its portrayal of a family with a kid with cerebral palsy. I’m just not as invested as I was earlier in the season, though this isn’t much of a surprise since it’s rare that I enjoy sitcoms.

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 a black character in the main cast.

 

Bottom Tier: Eliminated This Month

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

20. DESIGNATED SURVIVOR (ABC)

Airs at 10 ET/9 CT on Wednesdays.
Main cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Tanner Buchanan, Kal Penn, Maggie Q

LAST CHECK-IN: On hiatus

Designated Survivor is far from bad. I just never maintain enough interest in political dramas to watch for long. The first episode after the hiatus caught my interest, but by the next week, I was bored again. Maybe I’ll binge watch the rest of the episodes when the season is over.

Diversity? The main cast includes a few actors of color, such as Kal Penn and Maggie Q.

 

Past TV Check-ins: January | February

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