It’s a little over a month into the fall TV season, so it’s time for me to see where I’m at with all the returning series. All the shows I decided to keep watching are in tiers below, from the Returning Favorites to the Already Eliminated Shows.
In each of the tiers, the series are listed from best to worst.
You’ll notice this list is a bit more top-heavy than the TV Check-in for Fall’s New Shows; after all, I’m watching all these returning shows because they’ve been high quality in the past.
Top Tier: Returning 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.
The Flash (CW)
The Flash is easily the best of the CW’s superhero shows, and its blend of action and depth puts it on the top of my returning TV list. The show is flashy without overdoing it, full of heart, and has a powerfully consistent tone. Plus, The Flash is a series that’s willing to take risks, like its exploration of Flashpoint.
Jane the Virgin (CW)
While 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 never takes itself too seriously, considering its unique chapter style and comedic narrator. But it’s original aspects like those, combined with an exciting, dramatic plot and complex romances, that put this show on top.
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
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.
The switch from CBS to CW did nothing to diminish Supergirl‘s success — it’s just as strong as ever. This female-led superhero show added numerous characters to its cast this season, and so far it has managed to introduce every single one properly. The series has actually stepped up from last season, adding new diverse characters and a more intimidating antagonist.
As one of the highest rated shows on TV right now, it’s no surprise that Empire is a well-done series. It may not be quite as high quality as season one, but in its third season, the show is going strong. The drama is high and the music manages to be good and purposeful to the plot at the same time. With cast members like Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon, the show is even stronger.
Middle Tier: Solid Series
This tier includes the shows that I’m really happy with, but a big mistake could always stop me from watching them.
Superstore was funny in its first season, but the comedy is leagues better in season two. The show has clearly found its stride. It’s avoided being too gimmicky (so far), and it’s doing a lot to develop its characters throughout the laughs. If the show continues to step up, it’ll have no problem staying on the air.
Legends of Tomorrow (CW)
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 took massive steps forward shaking off some of its less successful elements from season one (the unexciting villain Vandal Savage, for example). And with its ensemble cast of heroes and time-traveling focus, Legends of Tomorrow is loaded with potential.
Gotham has its good moments and its bad moments. Season one was excellent, season two faltered a little bit, and season three is currently somewhere in between. The show is loaded with villains capable of bringing plenty of high tension. But Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is probably the show’s least exciting character, even though he’s at the forefront of the cast. He’s a complex and deeply flawed character, which is great, but he’s getting a little stale. If the show can give him a refresh and keep the plot high-stakes, Gotham will be in good shape.
The Real O’Neals (ABC)
This comedy truly succeeds in the hilarious family dynamic of the O’Neals. The Real O’Neals may not be the best comedy on TV, but the show knows its identity, and that shows. The blend of imaginative scenes, the laughs, and exploration of some legitimate LGBTQ issues is keeping this show strong.
Arrow is just barely avoiding the chopping block. Why is that? Because it’s part of the Arrowverse. If I didn’t love the other three shows and how the four interact, Arrow might be in more trouble on my list. But Arrow‘s flashbacks are getting incredibly old, and they take time away from developing the new characters. Season five certainly has a chance to restore the show to its old success, but there’s no guarantee it won’t flop again like the last two seasons.
Low Tier: On the Chopping Block
These shows have some redeeming to do if I’m going to continue watching them.
Quantico was incredible in the first half of season one. Then it took some missteps. And more missteps (such as one of the worst gay storylines on TV ever). And while it’s still an exciting show, it has some work to do. This season is a bit confusing; the show isn’t taking the time it needs to in order to properly establish the new characters and plot. If it stabilizes and avoids making mistakes like it did in the second half of season one, Quantico will be able to escape the chopping block.
New Girl (Fox)
New Girl has no doubt had better seasons. It’s nice to see the show changing this season, with new locations and relationships. But some of the characters are getting old, and the show isn’t quite as funny as it has been in the past. New Girl is on its sixth season, so it’s struggling to stay fresh. I’m still watching out of dedication — after five seasons, I want to see it through.
Bottom Tier: Already Eliminated Shows
These shows, sadly, are already off my watch list.
Scream Queens (Fox)
I watched the majority of season one before getting bored, so I ended up just reading recaps of the last few episodes. Then I decided to give the show another shot, hoping that season two’s new hospital setting might be enough to spark the show into success. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite enough. The show is still funny, and it has its moments. But with so many shows on my watchlist, Scream Queens just isn’t engaging enough to remain worth the watch.
I had so much hope that Lucifer would right itself in season two. It almost did, with a few really engaging new plot elements. But in the end, Lucifer might as well be a supernatural version of Castle, and that supernatural element simply isn’t enough for the show to stand on its own.
American Horror Story (FX)
There are a lot of people that love American Horror Story. I guess I’m just not one of them. After hearing so many good things about it, I gave it a shot last season. But American Horror Story: Hotel‘s plot felt ridiculous halfway through, so I quit watching. I thought American Horror Story: Roanoke might be better, but I couldn’t even make it through the first episode. The show had a major twist halfway through, but the anticipation for it wasn’t enough to keep me watching, especially considering I guessed that twist after five minutes of episode one.