Arrow has gone through the same kind of growing pains that many popular shows do: it started off rocky, found its footing, gained a big following, then had its followers turn on it around season 3. Season 4 of the show was particularly rocky, with fans lambasting everything from the dark magic seasonal storyline and villain (Damien Darhk), to the sappy romance between Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and his techy sidekick, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).
The latter plot device/relationship even got an official hashtag nickname, "#Olicity," which came to represent both fan desires for the geek girl to get the buff bad boy, and fan backlash against what was seen as Arrow losing its direction and edge in its worst season yet. The Olicity romance has since been retired, as Arrow season 5 has gotten back to basics (i.e., violent vigilantism, brutal villains, and little time for romance). Yet hindsight proves to yet again be 20/20, as Arrow producer and showrunner Marc Guggenheim is now joining the camp of fans that were disappointed in how season 4 handled Olicity.
Speaking with EW, Guggenheim talked about his biggest regrets while doing the show, claiming that, "my list of regrets is actually incredibly long; it’s 100 episodes long." When pressed for one particular regret that sits above others, Guggenheim finally opened up about the Olicity "controversy," saying:
"I’d say probably my biggest regret is I wish we had allowed the Oliver-Felicity storyline in season 4 to unfold at a more natural pace. We had set these tentpoles at the beginning of the season, and we were a bit too rigorous on how we hit them. That was a case where the planning overtook the storytelling. We didn’t do things as naturally and as elegantly as we should have.”
A lot of fans will look at that quote and think, "that's an understatement!" Arrow season 4 (no matter how much you like the show) was its weakest yet, and Olicity was a particularly distracting part of it. Many fans criticize Guggenheim and his fellow showrunners for being too indulgent with fan wishes; after all, it was the fans (at least a faction of them) that wanted Olicity to happen, and the show bending to make it happen felt as contrived as it was.
From the sound of things, the Arrow producers have learned from their mistakes (for the most part), and are committing to bringing the show back to a place where they can follow their own pathway, and allow that path to lead them in (sometimes surprising) new directions. Fan response to season 5 would say that (so far) it's working: Arrow will be flying into its much-hyped 100th episode, as part of the DC TV shows' big "Invasion!" crossover event.