Better Shows: Smallville, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, or Black Lightning?
Arrow. It has the best story and the best action.
Ehhh none of them are top quality. Legends of Tomorrow is at least self-aware of its ridiculousness and enjoys itself. I like it most. Black Lighting is probably the best written out of those.
I have to exclude Black Lightning. I saw one episode and saw that it took itself WAY too seriously and wasn't particularly good enough to justify taking itself too seriously and gave up. It's also worth pointing out that all of these shows have serious problems with sloppy/lazy writing. Smallville had that problem less, but it had other problems. Overall, I would rank them thusly: Flash > Smallville > Supergirl > Arrow > Legends Flash just hits that sweet spot balance of comedic without being goofy, action, character, etc. It's not perfect, but it's a joy to watch most of the time. Smallville was a more professionally executed than the Berlanti-verse shows, and was really quite good for awhile. The problem is that the lead was AWFUL as Clark Kent. Chloe & Lex were carrying the show, and when Lex left, the show spiralled into just being flat out bad. But it kept going and going. Supergirl started in that same vein as Flash - great balance of comedy, character, and action. But the move to CW lost Calista Flockhart and the tone and nature of the show changed. The show became obsessed with SJW politics...which was somewhat there before, but on the back burner. Now, almost every episode is a left-wing manifesto of hating the right. Politics done badly ruins a show, and it has ruined this show. Still, I LOVED about the first season and a half enough that I still put it 3rd on this list. Arrow is just a Batman ripoff. But it has all the usual problems with a Berlanti production - the lazy/sloppy writing in particular, but Arrow lacks the positives that Flash and Supergirl (for awhile) brought. The humor almost exclusively channels through one character (Felicity) which makes that character kind of schticky, and the tone wanders like a drunk college student. One minute Oliver's a killer, then he's not, then he is again, then he's really not this time, then he is considering it but lying to everyone for no reason, and on and on. And legends of Tomorrow is just a Dr. Who ripoff. It's trying to be campy-fun, but it's not because it lacks actors/writers capable of delivering on the comedic mission. It briefly had ONE, Leonard Snart's actor (whose name escapes me right now), but he wanted to go do good television, so they killed him off. And no one else on the cast can do comedy...or any acting really. These guys are all the rejects from the other shows. Some people call it wacky fun, but just being nonsensical doesn't make you wacky or fun. It's just nonsense.
I really do like Arrow and The Flash, though I haven't watched ANY of the new seasons. We'll probably end up binge watching them on Netflix or something. But, moving forward, I'm not liking their idea of character development. I feel so bad that Oliver gets crapped on every time, no matter what he does. He does the right thing? HOW DARE HE?! He tries something different? HOW DARE HE?! He can't win. And my husband and I have dubbed The Flash "What Will Barry Mess Up Now?" LOL, but we still watch. We tried Legends and it was just...bad. Just bad. I can't say anything else about it. We have not watched the other shows.
I think Legends of Tomorrow is the most fun, and the one I look forward to the most. Season 1 was fairly dull, but it's definitely improved with time. The past two seasons have been great. As far as quality, I think Black Lightning is at the top. It has compelling stories, and I like that we have a more mature main character and family dynamic. Plus, I've been a fan of James Remar since his days in The Warriors.
Legends, because it's improved. It started off corny as frick and all around terrible, but the real improvement in writing and directing shows me that the cast and crew really believe in the show, and it earns them my respect/viewership.
Legends of Tomorrow.
I dislike almost everything CW puts on. I loved Supergirl when it was on CBS but it has gone down hill since it's been on CW.
The first 2-3 seasons of Arrow were the best. They had a grounded tone to them while also being a superhero show. It's gotten a little campy since then and focuses too much on wider connections rather than Oliver and his personal vendetta
I'd have to say Legends of Tomorrow. In the first season, the Flash was pretty good, with an excellent villain role for Tom Cavanaugh. But I think it's declined in quality since then. Legends does well by embracing the ridiculous and having a clear vision for what the show is: a team of losers who nevertheless manage to save the day.