Despite the divisive first trailer and its R-rated approach, DC Universe's Titans has largely delivered the goods. It's been such a solid show that we're only seven episodes into its first season, and it's already established itself as DC's best live-action series currently airing.
Sure, it has a long way to go in terms of dethroning a show like Smallville, yet it's already proving to be miles better than the current crop of DC programming. It sounds like a bold declaration to make, especially with the likes of Arrow and Supergirl producing some of their best episodes to date, but there are several factors that make this a viable argument.
First and foremost, the story grips you with its compelling, overarching theme of identity. These characters don't know who they are, and we're embarking on a journey of self-discovery with them. There's intrigue and mystery around every bend, with each episode filling in a blank and shining more insight on these heroes. Undoubtedly, Rachel and Kory are the most mysterious of the bunch as their paths appear to be linked and there's a lot more to uncover. They aren't Raven or Starfire yet – which explains the absence of their costumes – but they're getting closer to learning the truth about themselves.
There's also the curious case of Dick Grayson, who's different from the character we've come to know and love in the comic books. That said, it isn't a bad thing. His story arc is riveting as it touches upon the concept of the man and the mask. Can you separate Dick and Robin, or are they the same person? In this instance, Bruce is entirely to blame for Dick's identity crisis. He brought a child into his crusade for justice, and the effects of his war on Gotham's underworld weigh heavily on Dick's conscience. His transition from Robin to Nightwing means more than just a costume and name change; there's a significance to him burying the past.
That leads to another thing: Titans isn't afraid of diverging from canon. In fact, it's more grounded in reality than other DC shows despite the original tone of its source material (and the existence of magical beings, extraterrestrials and shape-shifting characters). Much like Daredevil's boots-on-the-ground storytelling, the series has found a way of blending its fantastical elements with a realism that will appeal to non-superhero fans. Yes, it tries to cater for its most obvious demographic, but it also aims for the wider audience with its approach.
Its true test will come when it's released internationally. Even though it's only available on the DC Universe streaming service in the U.S. at the moment, its international debut on Netflix will allow an even broader audience to see what the fuss is about. While current fans have had to wait a week between episodes, the series possesses a binge-worthy quality and has the deep story hooks to keep the viewers invested in the show, so the signs are promising that it'll be warmly received by the rest of the world.