Critics Say: These Are the Worst TV Shows of the New Millennium
The networks just love talking up the new shows they have coming out. All sorts of advertising techniques are used to get viewers excited and glued to their televisions for each premiere. Despite all the hype, many a TV show is so woefully bad that the networks don’t even let them finish out the first season. In fact, sometimes it is the very hype they create that works against them, with viewers’ expectations raised to impossible heights before bearing witness to the average reality. Most of these train-wrecks barely get to see the light of day before being stowed away in a fail closet, hidden deep within the halls of the network, never to be spoken of again. However, some of the TV station creations manage to be roundly panned by critics while still attracting a loyal contingent of fans (quite often people who find the show “so bad it’s good”).
If this group of loving viewers is sizable, their adoration can be enough to keep a show holding on for a few more seasons. From productions that never made it past their first pilot episode, to hilariously woeful failures that stretched on far longer than their quality justified, buckle up for our list of the worst-rated shows in television history. We’ve analyzed metadata from every online critic we could find since the year 2000, to bring you only the officially agreed upon, worst of the worst.
The NBC show, Tucker, premiered in the year 2000. If you don’t remember hearing about it, that’s probably because it only lasted a month before being permanently canned. Considering how embarrassingly formulaic the plot is, it’s little wonder the show didn’t make it past its infancy. In the wake of his parents’ divorce, 14-year-old Tucker moves to his Aunt Claire’s house with his mom. The resultant sitcom was supposed to be a funny and heartwarming glimpse into what it’s like to go through a family breakdown and change of living conditions, all while grappling with puberty.
Critics were unanimous Tucker was way too obvious in its attempts to emulate its wildly popular predecessors, The Wonder Years and Malcolm in the Middle. While trying to hard to be both of these shows, it sadly failed to meet the standard of either. Variety magazine was harsh but fair in its conclusions about the show: “Tucker needs to find a source of unpredictability to emerge as anything but a forced and derivative effort.” Ouch!
2001: Black Scorpion
Back in 2001, the Sci-Fi Channel took a chance on a new show they hoped would be a hit: Black Scorpion. The storyline centered around protagonist, Darcy Walker. This bad-ass lady was a police officer by day, but by night, she donned a black leather getup (complete with an uncomfortable looking waistline and unflattering mask) to become the crime-fighting superhero, Black Scorpion. One look at the promotional photo and you can probably figure out why the show only managed to scrape out one season. Let’s just say the quality of the scriptwriting and performances matched the quality of the photo. While it seems this may have been the intention of the show—aiming to capture that elusive “so bad it’s good” subset of fandom—they failed dismally.
According to Michael Farkash, a writer for The Hollywood Reporter, “[Black Scorpion] suffers from banal and repetitive dialogue, weak comedy, obvious puns and no plot surprises to speak of. In other words, it’s trying to recreate the campy tone of the old ‘Batman’ TV series. Mix that up with real martial-arts battles and plenty of explosions.”
2002: That ’80s Show
Given the heights of popularity that were reached by That 70s Show, it’s safe to say the creators of That 80s Show thought the success of their spin-off was in the bag. Fans of That 70s Show will remember the insane levels of hype that were created around the show that promised to give us a whole new decade of laughs. However, on its release in 2002, That 80s Show failed dismally in its attempt to live up to the high expectations produced by the hype. Neither the plot nor the characters had any direct connection to That 70s Show. All it took was the name and the basic concept of offering a trip down memory lane in order to celebrate and poke fun at the past.
While this concept worked fantastically in That 70s Show, it just didn’t work with fans a second time around. James Poniewozik of Time magazine wrote, “80s is full of unlikable stereotypes who were already well-parodied cliches two decades ago.” The San Francisco Chronicle added to the attack, explaining, “the new show takes a wispy idea and stretches it past its limit, leaving no laughs, no character development, and certainly no impetus to watch again.”
Hawaii premiered on NBC in 2004, but it failed to survive for a full season; after only seven episodes, the network pulled the plug. They didn’t even bother airing the eighth episode, despite it having been filmed and produced. The ratings were so terrible it wasn’t worth putting anyone through the hell of another failed reception for the poor, dismal show. As you may have guessed from the name, Hawaii was supposed to be a new, revamped version of the cult classic, Hawaii Five-O. But this cop drama fell flat on its face with critics saying it didn’t even come close to comparing to the show that inspired it.
While there were many scathing critiques to choose from, we feel The San Francisco Chronicle hit the nail right on the head with their review: “Hawaii isn’t half as cool as Hawaii Five-O, nor nearly as frothy fun as Magnum P.I. What it amounts to, in an ocean of really good cop shows across the dial, is a retro failure built around people you don’t really care about saying stupid things you can’t muster enough interest to snicker over.” Harsh but, we dare say, fair.
2005: Killer Instinct
When it comes to cop shows, it seems critics are especially difficult to win over. 2005 marked the arrival of yet another failure of a crime drama: Killer Instinct. In fact, the show won the dubious honor of being decreed one of the worst-rated shows of the year. Congratulations? An attempt at breaking into the “gritty crime drama” genre, Killer Instinct was so cringe-worthy it was canned before the year was out. This was one of those offerings that appealed to a select group of fans. These guys were numerous enough to allow the show to at least finish out its first season.
While it clearly had something going for it as far as everyday viewers went, the critics weren’t nearly as generous. USA Today described it as being Fox’s worst show of the season. Meanwhile, The New York Daily News decreed, “it’s a show so determined to shock that it cares more about that than about such things as compelling lead characters, believable situations or inventively solved mysteries.”
2005: Ghost Whisperer
It seems 2005 was a good year for terrible TV. The same year that Hawaii flopped on (and quickly off) our silver screens, another disaster was brewing. This one was an attempt to conquer the supernatural mystery genre and it featured 90s scream queen, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Those of you with a good memory will, by now, have the words, Ghost Whisperer, emerging from your minds. While the show fared phenomenally better than most of those to grace this list, critics despised it, right from the first episode. Fortune, though, was shining on the fading 90s star as her fans were persistent enough to allow Ghost Whisperer to last a full five seasons before being canned.
While the idea of Jennifer Love Hewitt hanging out with a bunch of ghosts seems like it could have some merit to it, the premiere failed to draw much interest and then failed to impress many of those who gave it a shot. One of the biggest problems was that people came to the show hoping for supernatural thrills but were instead given sentimental drama. The New York Times insisted that “neither Ms. Hewitt nor her series are malevolent forces, and the producers can feel as good as they choose about a cloying job well done.”
2006: ‘Til Death
With larger than life funnyman, Brad Garrett, at the helm, no one foresaw the terrible demise of ‘Til Death. When the show first aired, in 2006, Garrett was still buzzing from the success of Everybody Loves Raymond. Fans were equally abuzz with Garrett’s character, Robert, being a crowd favorite. When Garrett’s very own sitcom finally went to air though, it proved to be a disappointing flop. The sitcom revolved around a husband and wife who were entering into their 23rd year of married life. Their relationship was contrasted with their newlywed neighbors and, while the writers planned for it to be funny, it left audiences and critics alike with straight faces.
USA Today had a crack at explaining why this happened: “the main structural problem for the show is that neither the couples nor the contrast make any sense…. Still, this being a comedy, the more troubling problem is that no one is funny, starting with Garrett.”
2007: Rules of Engagement
‘Til Death wasn’t the only sitcom to attempt the old married couple vs. newlyweds dynamic… and it wasn’t the only one to fail at it. While Rules of Engagement was technically more successful. Lasting a fairly impressive seven seasons, it was never given a break by critics. While it came out in 2007, it seems Rules of Engagement learned little from its failed predecessor. In fact, its similarity to ‘Til Death was a big part of its undoing.
A critic for The Chicago Sun-Times explained, “Rules and ‘Til Death bear exactly the same ups and downs. The ups: essentially a good cast, plus sporadic funny lines. The downs: many un-funny lines, plus rehashed story-lines from a thousand episodes of married-life sitcoms dating all the way back to The Honeymooners.” While these sitcoms failed for being unfunny, hilarity can sometimes be what heralds in the failure, as you’ll read when we get to 2010.
2008: Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb was yet another attempt at situational comedy that failed dismally, with fans and critics alike. Set in a New York City hotel, the 2008 “comedy” followed the day-to-day goings on, all from the perspective of the establishment’s employees. While the show featured Jerry O’Connell of Sliders fame, Do Not Disturb was so poorly received by audiences that it was cut after just three episodes had gone to air. It took out the dubious honor of being the first show to be canceled that season.
According to USA Today, Do Not Disturb was “a show that tries to be adult and titillating but just comes across as juvenile and badly paced.” Adding to the air of criticism, The Chicago Tribune described it as being “so bad that it’s not only unpleasant to watch, but it makes you fear for the future of network television.” Now that is one searing indictment!
Premiering in 2009, Mental was a medical-mystery-drama that managed to cling on for a full season before rapidly hemorrhaging ratings got the better of it. The show’s protagonist, Dr. Jack Gallagher, was like a less appealing version of everyone’s favorite TV doctor: Gregory House. Like House, Gallagher had unorthodox ideas about diagnosis and treatment. He also had a “more than just friends” kind of relationship with the hospital administrator. Unlike House, Gallagher was employed in a psychiatric ward where his mean streak just couldn’t playoff in the lovable way that House’s could.
Actor, Chris Vance, also didn’t stack up charisma-wise compared to the inimitable Hugh Laurie. With all this stacked up against it, the show was an awkward, slow-dying fail. As The New York Times explained, “the creators of Mental couldn’t take Gallagher any further up the mean-spirited scale, so instead they went too far in the other direction and ran smack into cliché.”
2010: $#*! My Dad Says
This sitcom was inspired in such an interesting way, it seemed destined to be a success. After the viral success of Justin Halpern’s Twitter feed entitled, “S*** My Dad Says,” Warner Bros. was keen to get in on the action (and, of course, monetize it). So, in 2010, they were hyping the s*** out of a sitcom inspired by the Twitter feed. It seemed to have all the makings of a hit, even snagging William Shatner in a lead role. Sadly, $#*! My Dad Says, ended up being slated by critics and viewers alike as, shall we say, a pile of s***.
The Los Angeles Times had an interesting take on just why this might have been: “oddly, at 79, Shatner comes across as too energetic and youthful even for the 72-year-old he’s playing.” So Shatner was just too darned sprightly? Apparently there was a bit more to it than that. The LA Times continued: “the bigger problem is that he’s given nothing to do or say worth the doing or saying. He gets better mileage from a Priceline commercial.” Seems it’s not so easy to transfer Twitter success to TV ratings. As we’ll soon see, a similar problem is faced by producers who attempt to translate the success of old shows into revamped versions.
2011: Charlie’s Angels
Whenever a remake is announced, fans of the original get tense. It seems nearly impossible to create something that is new yet still resonates with audiences. Sometimes you’re really just better off not messing with a good thing. Try telling that to the networks though! They seem to operate on the premise that if it worked once, it’ll work again. Sadly, ABC’s reboot of Charlie’s Angels ended disastrously, adding itself to the growing list of reasons why producers should perhaps be looking for fresh ideas instead.
Released in 2011, the Charlie’s Angels writers made a valiant effort at sidestepping the temptation to make a kitschy replica of the bangin’ original. However, it seems they stripped too much of the camp 70s fun from the old classic. As USA Today explained, the original Charlie’s Angels “had energy and glamour and a self-aware sense of frothy fun, all of which are missing from this lugubrious update.” With TV audiences in steadfast agreement, the show was dubbed a failure after just four episodes and pulled from the air. With eight episodes filmed in total, this means four are still lurking somewhere, never having shone their light on the eyes of an expectant audience.
2012: Guys with Kids
Sitcoms are so hit and miss. When they’re great, they can carry on for years and even decades. When they’re a flop, however, they’re so unbearable they’re lucky to make it through even one season. Airing in 2012, Guys with Kids is another one to add to the fail heap. On the surface of it, there’s nothing wrong with the premise: three guys go through the day-to-day struggles of raising their kids, all set in the kind of modern environment we can all relate to. It could be hilarious, right? Well, maybe in a parallel timeline. Unfortunately, in our timeline, the show was so dismal it was canned after just one season. Critics accused the writers of being painfully bland, creating stereotypical characters, and padding the show with reams of unfunny dialogue. Despite a few shining moments, even the usually hilarious, Anthony Anderson, couldn’t salvage this train-wreck of a sitcom.
A writer for The San Francisco Chronicle expressed confusion at “the unfathomable reaction of the studio audience,” suggesting they were being cajoled into fake and excessive reactions to the unfunny content. The writer continued, “the show certainly couldn’t survive on the basis of its humor because there is none.” If you thought that was harsh, wait til you see what Newsday had to say about it: “nothing to see here. Move on.”
As we’ve just seen, dad-centric comedies may well be a hitherto unrealized curse within the new era of television. Adding some support to this conspiracy theory is the Fox show, Dads. Released in 2013, Dads seemed on the surface to have all the makings of a hit. The cast included Seth Green, of Scream, Robot Chicken and Family Guy fame, and a solid bunch of lesser known but talented actors. It was, perhaps the premise that tripped them up. The sitcom was to center on a pair of video game developers who fall into the strange predicament of having both their fathers need to move in with them at the same time.
While this is an unlikely setup, it’s not the weirdest we’ve seen in the world of sitcoms. However, when paired with “lazy writing,” critics and audiences just weren’t buying it. TV Guide Magazine didn’t hold back in its denigration of the failed show – “Dads would love to be as offensive as its promos promise, but what’s most off-putting about the show is how lazy and stale it all is.” It seems, perhaps, that the 2000s heralded in a new era of sitcoms, one that has no time for stale old dad jokes.
2015: Dr. Ken
Having enjoyed great success, and an ardent following of fans, from shows like Community and The Hangover, Ken Jeong seemed an obvious choice to take on a starring role in his own show. Seeing the hype that was building around the comedian, ABC decided to capitalize on it with the creation of a show in which Jeong would play the lead. Dr. Ken seemed perfect for Jeong, especially since (and trust us, we were as shocked to learn this as you’re about to be) the cocaine-guzzling crazy man who demanded “but did you die?” in The Hangover is actually a fully qualified doctor in real life.
What caused Jeong’s sitcom to fail was, strangely, the very thing that caused him to be so successful in all his other ventures. The Louis Post-Dispatch explained what the problem was: “ too much Ken Jeong. His manic energy takes over every frame of the pilot, at the expense of anything and anyone else in the show,”
2015: The Unauthorized Full House Story
Lifetime: a network famous for its overly dramatic, straight-to-TV movies, and for ruining the much-loved teen sitcom, Saved by the Bell, by creating a behind-the-scenes version of it that sucked all the comedy out and turned it into drama. While we have to admit, Lifetime movies can be a guilty pleasure, it seems the network can’t be trusted around our favorite shows. In 2015, they aired The Unauthorized Full House Story, a show drawn from the memoirs of Bob Saget. Unfortunately, no one from the original series was down to participate and the stand-in actors just had nothing on the original cast.
Then, of course, there was the writing. As New York Daily News explained, “Unauthorized captures the feel-good part. Unfortunately, it misses the “written well” part. Like, completely.” Lifetime failed to do Full House any justice and Unauthorized was more like a Full House-themed fever dream.
2016: Fuller House
It seems no-one learned their lesson from that first attempt at reviving Full House. Though, to give them credit, the creators of 2016’s Fuller House did have John Stamos and the gang from the original series on board. 90s kids the world over rejoiced, as Netflix built up the hype for their official reboot. However, this ended up being another case of too much hype with nothing substantial to deliver. Fans became annoyed with the excessive carrying on about the reunion.
Time magazine captured the feelings of critics and fans alike: “Fuller House has nothing more to offer than a look at what an old show’s actors and format look like in the present day.” Points have to be given to the producers for perfectly recreating the original set. They were also able to convince all of the original actors, apart from the Olsen twins, to take part. However, the old jokes just didn’t fly in the new setting, and there’s only so many times you can sigh and reflect on how much things have changed, before it just gets tedious.
2017: Marvel’s Inhumans
While Marvel may be breaking box office records with the insane levels of success it enjoys with its comic-based films, they somehow managed to fail miserably when they tried to translate their talents into TV. Maybe the small screen just isn’t big enough for all their oomph? That seems to have been a concern for the producers, anyway, because they actually aired the first episode of their made-for-TV series, Marvel’s Inhumans, in IMAX theaters. The 2017 series was then shifted to what was supposed to be its permanent home on ABC. Even with this epic introduction, Inhumans just failed to impress.
Ken Tucker, of Yahoo TV, perhaps put it best: “I’d like to say that Marvel’s Inhumans is so spectacularly awful, it’s worth tuning in just to witness the superhero train-wreck. But alas, Inhumans does not even yield sarcastic pleasures–it’s just bad. Bad in a dull way, bad in an irritating way… Marvel’s Inhumans is just inhumane.”
2018: Jean-Claude Van Johnson Canceled
While it had a massive star in the titular role, the satirical comedy, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, was canceled by Amazon just a month after its premiere. While it seems obvious to blame the quality of the episodes for the failure of the series, many people leaped to the show’s defense, claiming it wasn’t about the show per se. Rather, Amazon had made a strategic move to cut back on original comedies, replacing them with a focus on dramas. The pilot, after all, was solid; yet many point out that the episodes that stretched out after it was just that: stretched. Critics felt the storyline was so basic it barely warranted a full series. After just six episodes went to air, between 2016 and 2017, the show was canceled and Jean-Claude Van Damme sadly had to seek out new avenues for sharing his martial arts skills with the world.
What you’ve just witnessed were the worst of the worst: those shows TV viewers and critics agreed were the most heinous offerings of the 2000s. Coming up are the more controversial ones. The shows that had people divided, including some that were so bad they were weirdly hypnotic, and one that comedy genius, Steve Carell, wishes you never found out about.
After wrapping up the hit show, Baywatch, Pamela Anderson was keen to hold onto the spotlight while she still had momentum. Her breakthrough, raunchy lifeguard role led to appearances on Saturday Night Live and WrestleMania, but what Anderson craved was another safe and cushy starring role in a regular series. She got what she thought was her next big break with the show, V.I.P., in which she took on the role of Vallery Irons. In an echo of her life-saving ways in Baywatch, Anderson’s new role was all about protecting people. The premise of the show was that Anderson’s character accidentally saved a celebrity, leading to her discovery by a bodyguard agency.
The accidental hero is hired and her character joins a ragtag team of ex-spies, ex-law enforcement officers, martial arts experts, and a computer expert. The show featured real-life cameos from celebs needing Anderson’s expertise, including Jerry Springer, Jay Leno, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. While the cheese-factor kept a lot of people watching, and it did enjoy a decent run, the show was canceled in 2002.
Okay, here’s the premise (let’s see if you think it’s as awesome as the network execs from UPN, NBC and TNN were all convinced it was): a brand new sport that combines wrestling with American football. Yep. As you might have guessed by now, this new sport was a dismal failure. XFL seemed to be more about barely-dressed cheerleaders and weird camera angles than actual athletic skill. It wasn’t all bad news though. Some players were able to use XFL as a springboard to get into the NFL. Players who were stoked to have made this transition include Corey Ivy, Kevin Kaesviharn and Mike Furrey.
Only realizing how dismal their weird creation was after seeing how much sports fans despised it, NBC bailed on its contract before the first season was even up. Vince McMahon, the owner of the WWF, ended up feeling nothing but shame for his part-ownership of the XFL. In fact, he went so far as to call it a “colossal failure.” Somehow, after the “sport” was canceled, that shame faded. McMahon is now planning to give the league a makeover and take another shot at impressing fans in 2020.
2002: Hidden Hills
This TV series came from the popular book, Surviving Suburbia. While the day-to-day angst of suburban life was relatable for fans of the book, the TV show failed to carry it off. This was thanks, in large part, to the fact that the producers were too focused on the idea that “sex sells.” They forced sexiness onto all the characters and into all the storylines, in a way that just felt weird against a backdrop of bake sales and softball games. Viewers felt alienated and just didn’t vibe with the show’s attempts at comedy.
With no one buying what Surviving Suburbia was offering, the show ended up on the official fail pile after just a single season. The sitcom started with low ratings and it only went downhill from there, causing NBC to pull out before they’d even aired all the episodes. There are five still stowed away somewhere that no one ever got to see.
This one copped one of the simplest and most devastating reviews we’ve ever seen. USA Today wasted only a single word in describing the premiere of Luis back in 2003: “Horrific.” Wow. Apparently it was so bad they couldn’t even be bothered explaining why. Well, let us pick up where USA Today left off. While the show’s star, Luis Guzmán is a successful and much-loved comedic actor, somehow his charm just failed to carry across in the show. Headed up by a Puerto Rican actor, the Fox comedy was supposed to play with ethnic stereotypes in a way that was still relatable and heartwarming. However, critics complained that it just made everyone feel awkward, flogging the corpses of failed jokes and rehashing tired stereotypes that just didn’t have any humor in them.
For all its hype, the show was canceled after only managing to squeeze out five episodes. According to New York Daily News, “the pilot script manages to poke fun at more ethnic groups than the average episode of All in the Family, but without any of the wit. Most of the jokes, like most of the characters, just sit there.”
2004: Come to Papa
Come to Papa is another one to add to our growing pile of shows that never made it past the first month. Viewers hated the NBC show right from the start, and the ratings reflected it. While the name alone is cringe-worthy enough, Come to Papa only gets worse from there. It centers around newspaper employee, Tom Papa, who doesn’t seem to be able to make any friends. In a strange casting decision, NBA star, John Salley, appeared as the mailman; a role in which he proved that all his talent definitely lies in sports. The acting was awkward and uncomfortable to watch, not just from Salley, but from the so-called professionals, too.
Here’s the real kicker: Steve Carell was one of the stars of the failed 2004 show. By now, we bet he’s glad the woeful attempt at comedy was pulled from the air so quickly. At least it means most people won’t remember this embarrassing episode in his career! Come to Papa didn’t even see out a full month, airing from June 3rd to June 24th, 2004.
2005: Love, Inc.
Here’s one that had viewers and critics divided. Love Inc. was a 2005 sitcom that centered around matchmakers in charge of a dating service who was having no luck in finding love themselves. It’s the kind of ironic premise that’s perfect for a successful comedy show and, with an ensemble cast that included the talented Busy Philipps, Love Inc. seemed to have all the right stuff. With a multi-ethnic cast, the show was designed to have broad appeal, with all demographics having at least one character they could relate to.
While the sitcom did enjoy a strong fan-base of young Latina women, these Love Inc. lovers weren’t strong enough to hold up the ratings. After just one season, the show was canceled. Critics claimed the stereotypical way in which some ethnicities were presented was at the heart of this failure. The African American characters were reduced to a cliched representation of their culture, and this alienated many viewers.
2005: The War at Home
The War at Home attempted to break into an already saturated market: sitcoms about dysfunctional families. We’ve all seen so many of them that the tropes are tired, and the jokes have been rehashed so many times we can see them coming long before the laugh track tells us we should be reacting to them. To actually make an impression on viewers in this genre, a show would need to do something surprising. Fox’s 2005 attempt at this wasn’t successful. Yet it didn’t even do itself the justice of being an epic failure. Rather, The War at Home dragged on in its mediocrity, not horrendous enough to be desperately pulled from the air in embarrassment, but not good enough for anyone to actually like it. Any ratings it got were probably from people who left the show’s boring but inoffensive noise on in the background while they did other things.
The War at Home was slashed to pieces by critics who hated it for its banality. As a critic for the San Francisco Chronicle explained, “If The War at Home spent more time on good jokes instead of recycling every gimmick ever seen on TV, it might merely be mediocre, but it’s worse.” Entertainment Weekly got in on the attack: “It’s one limp comedy that pretends to be frank and daring about race, gender, and sexual orientation–and instead is glib, tired, and slippery.”
2006: The Game
The Game may seem a little out of place on this list, considering it enjoyed enough popularity to run for a full nine seasons. It earns its place here, though, due to the extreme hatred directed at it by critics. The 2006 show was a spin-off from Girlfriends, and centered on a medical student who put her needs, wants and career goals on the back burner to support her boyfriend and his dreams of being a pro-footballer. Sounds as progressive and forward thinking as you can get, right?
We have enough faith in your intelligence to know you picked up on the sarcasm in that last line. But to bring it home, here’s what the Boston Globe had to say: “This new CW series cranks out brash jokes that evaporate upon hitting the air, winds them into situations where women submit to their men, and leaves no aftertaste when it’s gone.” While it did have a decent fan-base, The CW caved to pressure from disgruntled female viewers and canceled the show after three seasons. Seeing its potential, BET picked it up and ran with it for another six seasons before finally calling it quits.
2006: Pepper Dennis
With Rebecca Romijn in the starring role, Pepper Dennis had a lot going for it. The romantic sitcom featured the stunning model and actress as a Chicago news reporter. Pepper Dennis got its start in 2006 on The WB. It was dropped, but then quickly picked up by The CW that same year. While Pepper Dennis did manage to eke out a full season, it was eventually shut down for good.
With a killer actress in the lead role, critics chalked the show’s failure up to poor writing. According to New York Daily News, “Romijn certainly tackles her character with the abandon and conviction necessary to anchor a comedy-drama series. Were the show better written, these actors probably could deliver the goods with no problem.”
2007: Flash Gordon
Considering how much Americans love superhero sagas, and considering Flash Gordon is retro gold, it’s surprising this Sci-Fi channel offering failed so dismally, Inspired by the 1930’s comic strip of the same name, Flash Gordon starred an actor who had already tested the superhero waters: Eric Johnson. Fresh from the super successful hit, Smallville, Johnson was primed to step up from a supporting role into the shoes of the superhero himself. Somehow though, the Flash Gordon creators managed to get everything weirdly wrong.
USA Today was scathing in their appraisal, calling the show “[badly] written, badly cast and done on the cheap in the Canadian woods, Flash is the kind of fantasy toss-off that gives sci-fi, and Sci Fi, a bad name.” Superhero fodder is so hit and miss! There really is no in between.
2007: Sons of Hollywood
While A&E enjoys high ratings for dramatic reality shows like Intervention, the network was doused in failure when it attempted to tread on the turf of competitors like E! and TLC. In 2007, they released Sons of Hollywood, a program that followed the lives of the offspring of Rod Stewart and Aaron Spelling. We’re sure you’ll be completely unsurprised to learn that people just didn’t really care what spoiled rich kids, Sean Stewart and Randy Spelling, were up to.
We love the way The Los Angeles Times ripped into it: “Sons of Hollywood is the answer to a question nobody was wondering: What if you did ‘Entourage’ with actual Hollywood layabouts, without the writing and the acting and, you know, all that other work stuff?”
2008: Momma’s Boys
Reality TV is a dicey genre, with far more fails to its name than successes. Yet the popularity of shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians and The Bachelor keeps celebrity wannabes constantly attempting to find their own slice of reality TV heaven. Ryan Seacrest had his shot back in 2008, when he debuted Momma’s Boys, a weird competition-style dating show that involved mothers taking charge of their sons’ love lives. The NBC show was as awkward as it sounds, and everyone was relieved when it was canned after the first dismal season.
With an already kitschy premise, the show drove further into cringe town with a collection of pathetic contestants and over-the-top moms. Struggling to wrap his head around the horror of it all, Entertainment Weekly writer, Ken Tucker, explained, “this putrid reality competition works a racist mom into the mix: So, in addition to a parade of mostly inarticulate, cheerfully stereotypical bimbos… there’s plenty of moral ugliness as well.”
2008: Farmer Wants a Wife
2008 was home to yet another strange reality dating show: Farmer Wants a Wife. Offered up by The CW network, the show was based on a British program of the same name, which was apparently popular enough in the UK to warrant an American attempt at emulating its success. Like a country version of The Bachelor, Farmer Wants a Wife involved ten city girls vying for the attention of a single and handsome farmer. The show lasted eight episodes and perhaps the most entertaining aspect of it was the fact that each one beat the last to the bottom of the Nielsen ratings.
The Philadelphia Daily News had the cutest way of describing the travesty that was Farmer Wants a Wife: “It’s strictly entertainment, assuming that’s what you call it when one guy’s ordering 10 aspiring brides through a series of ridiculously staged agricultural challenges to find the one who’ll win the right to have her name mentioned in People magazine when they break up.” Hello sarcasm, our old friend.
2009: In the Motherhood
When TV networks see a web series doing well, it’s standard practice for their eyes to glaze over with dollar signs. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to capitalize on a good thing, it is important to ensure that you’re actually giving audiences something they like. This was the key thing missing from ABC’s failed attempt at converting Motherhood from online success to silver screen ratings. Airing in 2009, the show centered around three moms, each with her own unique parenting style. The sitcom failed dismally, only managing to hold on for seven episodes.
USA Today pulled no punches in its critique: “what you get from Motherhood are witless, barely connected vignettes about three, unpleasant, unbelievable women.” Like a spoiled rich kid, the show was given every opportunity to shine with heavy promotion from the network and sponsorship from both Sprint and Suave. Funnily enough, this support may have been partially responsible for its failure. Viewers were annoyed at the incessant product placement, particularly as it seemed to come at the expense of things like an engaging plot and funny jokes.
2009: The Cougar
While people rarely turn to reality TV when they’re in the mood for quality viewing, even the cheesiest reality shows have the potential to be big hits. Why? Well, you have to admit there’s a certain joy that can only be found in secretly indulging in trashy TV. And it doesn’t get more trashy than a group of 20-something males competing to romance a rich and successful lady who’s more than twice their age. While The Cougar had all the key ingredients to be one of those trashy indulgences you’d never admit to watching but secretly can’t get enough of, it somehow failed to deliver.
The Boston Globe explained why they thought it fell short: “By rights, given all of this material, The Cougar should be hilarious. But the show takes itself so seriously that, instead, it feels impossibly sad.” Audiences apparently agreed, because the show only lasted eight episodes.
2010: High Society
With shows like Gossip Girl and HBO classic, Sex and the City, enjoying cult status among their numerous fans, you can understand why producers of High Society felt sure their show would be a rating success. The 2010 offering focused on the real lives of New York City socialites, with Tinsley Mortimer as its first “it girl.” It seems, though, that the reality of high society in New York just isn’t as entertaining as what fiction writers can come up with. The show fell flat, failing to live up to the impossible expectations viewers had developed from Gossip Girl and SATC.
Only eight episodes ever made it out into the public realm, and this writer from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette clearly felt that was already far too much, describing High Society as “an awful show about awful people.” In her defense, it was less Tinsley Mortimer and more her morally bankrupt set of friends that critics complained about.
2010: The Deep End
Premiering on ABC in 2010, The Deep End has the dubious honor of joining the ranks of shows that were canceled within their first month. Just reading the premise has us already glazing over with boredom, so we can see why it didn’t go down well with audiences. The Deep End was a legal drama (yawn) that centered around a bunch of first-year associate attorneys as they dealt with insane workloads at a top LA law firm. Why, after a full day’s work, would anyone want to come home and watch a show about people dealing with too much work? We feel stressed just thinking about it.
In addition to its work-heavy premise, critics felt The Deep End lacked originality. The San Francisco Chronicle made no mystery of its feelings about the show: “The Deep End is stupid. It is obvious and ridiculous and badly acted for the most part.” The Los Angeles Times was equally harsh, calling it “poorly conceived, badly written and indifferently acted, The Deep End is a jumble of terrible ideas from start to finish.”
With a title like H8R, it’s hard to expect much. And, H8R certainly lived up to these non-existent expectations, slated by many as being the worst show on television in 2011. With comedian, Mario Lopez, as host, the program was all about celebrities meeting their “haters.” Instead of confronting them, the celebrities would weirdly attempt to win them over. While six episodes were shot, only four were ever aired. Ratings were so low it was actually more cost-effective for The CW to just cut their losses and air something less woeful in the time slot.
Critics were brutal, accusing the show of exploiting second-rate celebrities by making them drip with desperation. TV Guide Magazine was clear and brutal in their conclusions about H8R: “Not buying it. Not watching it. Feel free to hate H8R, and should they come knocking, don’t let them in. No one needs to be on TV this badly.”
2011: I Hate My Teenage Daughter
What a name for a show. I Hate My Teenage Daughter debuted on Fox in 2011 and it was as horrible as it sounds. The show centered around two single mothers who quite literally hate their children. The reason? They see in their daughters echoes of the girls who used to pick on them in high school. While mother-daughter hate could be pulled off in a show thick with comedy, that doesn’t take itself seriously and has a whole bunch of redeeming qualities, I Hate My Teenage Daughter brought none of this to the table.
The jokes were straight up misogynistic, and it was just plain uncomfortable watching family members turned against each other over petty behaviors. In describing this bleak, failed comedy, The New York Times wrote: “It should be funnier, but aptly enough, the pilot fails by also clumsily trying too hard, pushing what should be lighthearted portraits of insecure, inadequate mothers into grotesque caricatures.”
2012: Work It
Premiering on the ABC in 2012, Work It was canned in record time. The first episode went to air on January 3rd and, by January 10th, the show had been pulled, never to see the light of day again. It managed to get out two episodes in that time, both horribly received by viewers. Work It told the story of two men who’d been laid off by General Motors and were struggling in the post-GFC job market. While this sounds bleak, it takes a turn for the bizarre as the two men decide the best way to sort their lives out is to dress up as women… because apparently women fare better in the workplace?
While the premise is shaky, you have to admit, dudes dressed as women tend to do well on both the big and small screens. From Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H, to the unforgettable Mrs. Doubtfire, putting a man in a frock can make bucks for producers. However, when it came to Work It, the writers and actors just didn’t seem to have what it took to hold the attention of viewers. USA Today described it in the darkest of terms: “Work It is dreadful almost beyond comprehension: witless, tasteless, poorly acted, abominably written, clumsily directed, hideously lit and badly costumed.” Apparently there was literally nothing good about it!
After the extremely successful 10-season run of the cult-favorite TV series, Friends, it was only natural that producers would try to continue the magic. Joey, a spin-off show starring the beloved character, Joey Tribbiani, made its debut in 2004. Joey, pretty much continued where Friends left off. The star who’s a struggling actor moves from The Big Apple to L.A. to further peruse his career as an actor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even close to sharing the success of its renown its mother show and was ultimately canceled in 2006 after only 2 seasons, with 8 episodes left unaired.
Kevin S. Bright, one of the producers of Friends, explained his take on the reason the show failed, “I think we tried to present to the audience a Joey they didn’t know… Trying to develop a relationship and hang out with nerds. Even I don’t know what Joey was doing in that show, but it wasn’t what the fans were familiar with so it was not successful.” It’s interesting to know that Joey wasn’t the first (second, or even third) choice for a spin-off show, but Matt Leblanc, who played the character, was the only actor willing to continue to play his role. Turns out the producers should have gone with their gut-feeling, or simply let the Friends franchise rest in its fans nostalgia.
2008: The Return of Jezebel James
When actress Parker Posey joined forces with the creator of the beloved dramedy, Gilmore Girls, to make a new show, The Return of Jezebel James, Fox welcomed the talented duo with open with (hopeful) open arms. The story sounded like it had potential: a successful children’s book editor who is barren, and therefore, asks her estranged younger sister to carry her baby. Unfortunately, didn’t have a trace of the Gilmore wit, which was credited to show being miscast. Consequentially, after airing only three episodes, The Return of Jezebel James was canceled due to what Fox called “unacceptably low ratings.”
Reviews of The Return of Jezebel James were polar opposite the raving reviews Gilmore Girls received after its debut. Viewers agreeing with critics that the casting was just not right for that type of show- “Miscast and only intermittently funny, ‘Jezebel James’ misfires on all cylinders.”
Rob, starring funny Rob Schneider, didn’t even last 3 months. It was first aired on January 12th, 2012, and was replaced on March 1st, 2012 by Rules of Engagement, which would have a slightly more successful run. The show only aired 8 episodes. Ouch.
The series followed Rob, who lived the typical television-portrayed bachelor lifestyle until he married his wife, a Mexican-American princess. He then tries his best to adapt to her and her family’s Chicano culture. This actually could have been an interesting premise; however, the show was riddled with dull comedy, not to mention the stereotypes that were portrayed which made it pretty obvious that none of the show’s writers were actually Mexican-American themselves. One critic wrote, “There isn’t a single Latin name among the writers or producers and that it offers a wafer-thin appreciation and awareness of Mexican culture, one that doesn’t go beyond guacamole and the occasional use of the Spanish endearment mija (my daughter).”
2008: Rita Rocks
Rita Rocks was a short-lived Lifetime show that told the story of a hardworking wife and mother, who like many of us, struggled with her work-life balance, which included a job she didn’t love, her family and her new extracurricular activity, forming a local rock band. Rita Rocks was actually the first original comedy series Lifetime had launched in a decade, so they had high hopes for the new series. But, after 2-seasons Lifetime called it a wrap in 2009.
Nicole Sullivan, who played Rita, is actually a hilarious actress who made her mark on the sketch comedy series MADtv, and the rest of the cast was pretty solid as well, but apparently, the wannabe-rockstar mom concept didn’t attract enough viewers to keep it on the network.
2006: Four Kings
Four Kings was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, both of whom created the hit sitcom, Will & Grace. The show also starred Seth Green, who was experiencing much acclaim at that time (he was in the Austin Powers franchise and Buffy the Vampire Slayer), it all sounded like a recipe for success, but against the odds the show flopped, surviving only one season, with 6 episodes left in the vault never aired in the US.
According to its network, NBC is was the story of “a quartet of twentysomething chums who cohabit a Manhattan apartment that serves as their zany halfway house between college and adulthood.” Apparently, the cast didn’t have the chemistry and appeal to convince the audience they need to watch another sitcom about a group of friends in New York City.
2009:Accidentally on Purpose
After Jenna Elfman, made her mark in the smash-hit Dharma & Greg, CBS to profit off her beloved wit and cast her in a series of her own, Accidentally on Purpose. But would she be able to pull it off once again? Well, no.
Elfman portrayed a woman that got pregnant after a one night stand and decided to keep her unborn child. Although Elfman’s character and the baby’s father don’t know each other well enough to be in a serious relationship, she allows him to move into her home on a purely platonic basis to help her raise their child. The show didn’t manage to connect with enough viewers and consequently, the network decided to call it quits after the first season.
2006: Twenty Good Years
“It is a male version of ‘The Golden Girls,’ but with weaker writing.” – The New York Times What a hit below the belt, considering the network NBC thought they had a sure thing with two comedic legends, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow, staring on their new show. Twenty Good Years followed the life of two ‘seasoned’ men who were forced into retirement. And although they are pretty much polar opposites of each other, the one thing they agree on is that they have 20 “good” years left to live, and they want to live them the best they can.
The show’s premise wasn’t bad, and the talent was phenomenal, however, the writing was so poor, that none of the aforementioned could save it. Twenty Good Years was canceled after one season. The Golden Girls re-runs it is!
Michael Strahan enjoyed a successful 15-year-long professional football career with the New York Giants. After he retired as a pro athlete, he decided to give acting a chance, nothing unheard of before then. In 2009 he would star in his own TV show, Brothers, a series that focused on his character’s careworn relationship with his brother. Their parents in the show played the force that would try to drive the two siblings to resolve their issues.
The ratings for the show’s debut were quite a disappointment and did not improve much over the course of its 13-episode run. Thus, after one season Brothers was dropped by its network, Fox. Luckily for him, the failed show wouldn’t keep Strahan from show-biz. Since the show’s cancellation, he’s experienced much success as a Daytime talk show host and a sports analyst.
2008: Gary Unmarried
This CBS series, Gary Unmarried, followed the story of a divorced couple co-parenting their two children while starting their new separate relationships and lives. The show seemed to have a good start, as it won the”Favorite New TV Comedy” award at the 35th People’s Choice Awards. However, they couldn’t maintain the momentum apparently, and the show was canceled in 2010, after 2 seasons.
To give Gary Unmarried some credit, the show did tackle some interesting themes, and the fact that a divorced couple was at the core of its premise was relatively unique in 2008.
After the huge success of Cheers and Fraiser, the Hollywood acclaimed actor, Kelsey Grammer, was cast in yet another sitcom called Hank. This time he portrayed a high-powered business executive who lived the big city life with his wife and two children. That is until he gets let go from his lucrative CEO job. No longer able to afford their luxurious lifestyle, Hank and his family move from New York City to the much smaller and modest town of River Bend, Virginia.
This Country Mouse and City Mouse Adventure received generally negative reviews. One TV critic, Linda called Hank one of the worst new comedies on television. Grammer himself said that many times he found the script to be too “unfunny”.
With Primetime television, sometimes it about who is willing to take a risk. And CBS took a huge risk when they decided to air Stalker. The story followed an LAPD Lt. who’s an expert in cyber harassment, romantic fixation, and voyeurism. She, along with her team try to prevent and investigate such horrific crimes. What ended up on air were some of the most disturbing scenes ever seen on primetime television. The show was so creepy and dark that no one could bear to watch it, so CBS quickly snatched the show off the air after its first season.
Stalker received overwhelmingly negative reviews from viewers and critics alike. It was referred to as exploitative and misogynist. The Los Times wrote about the show “The violence, creepiness, and depravity appear to be the point because nothing of value is offered in balance… It’s unforgivable.” The question that remains is did anyone actually watch the pilot before the show was approved?
2007: Painkiller Jane
Based on a comic book character of the same name, the series begins with a DEA agent who discovers that she has superhuman abilities when she is pushed through a window of a 40-story building, and instead of dying upon landing, she completely recovers and is able to walk away from the scene. Just to be sure she was imagining what happened, she a runs into the middle of a gunfight and even jabs herself with a corkscrew. While she posses supernormal regenerative powers, she still feels the pain caused by her injuries in the seconds before they heal, something like X-Men’s Wolverine.
Most of its viewership gave the show a thumbs down, and according to Los Angeles Times “The show is long on concept and short on execution which would actually be OK if the writing and acting were not so simply terrible.” Well, there weren’t enough comic con nerds to drive up the show’s ratings, actually comic fans gave it the worst reviews, so like most of the failed show on this list, Painkiller Jane was canceled after only one season.
2014: I Want To Marry Harry
In 2014, Fox Jedi-mind-tricked 12 women into thinking they were actually competing for a chance to win the heart of nonother than, Prince Harry himself. That’s the only way to explain it because no one in their right mind would think that young British royalty would go on American reality television to find true love. But in the place of Prince Harry was a poor look-alike named Matthew Hicks. I mean, Meghan Markle would be offended that Fox even compared Hicks to her man. I Want To Marry Harry was like The Bachelor and Joe Millionaire, but they managed to make the women appear even more foolish.
There’s hope for humanity, due to low rating Fox pulled the show from the air in the US and canceled it after airing only four episodes.
A show based on Based on the GEICO Cavemen commercials doesn’t sound promising to most, but for some reason, ABC gave it a chance anyway. Cavemen focuses on life in San Diego, California, through the eyes of three cavemen: Nick, Andy, and Joe. The show started off on a poor foot with a racist pilot that would never be aired. But the problem was that the remaining five episodes were just as tasteless. The infamous 2007 Writer’s Strike Came and did the honors of driving the show to extinction for ABC.
The reviews for Cavemen were brutal, to say the least. The Chicago Tribune listed it as one of the 25 worst TV shows ever, and TV critic Ginia Bellafante of The New York Times wrote “I laughed. But I laughed through my pain. ‘Cavemen,’ set in some version of San Diego where people speak with Southern accents, doesn’t have moments as much as microseconds suspended from any attempt at narrative.” The short-lived series was also honored with the 22nd spot on TV Guide Network’s list of 25 Biggest TV Blunders. They agreed that basing a TV show on a commercial was a bad idea from the get-go.
2006: South Beach
Brought to us by Jennifer Lopez’s production company Nuyorican Productions, South Beach had all of the glitz and glam to become the younger and more diverse version of The O.C. And with a cast starring legends like Vanessa L. Williams and Giancarlo Esposito, what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, viewers didn’t find much substance or anything else entertaining on South Beach, thus, the show survived for a month.
“A preposterous and pretentious drama series.”, needless to say, the critics were far from kind, and the show was one of the lowest rated TV series of 2006. Better luck next time JLo.
2015: Truth Be Told
The show is said to have been loosely based on the life of its creator and executive producer D. J. Nash. It revolves around two multicultural couples, one Black, and the other White, and Asian, who are best friends and neighbors. They share their observations and perspectives about different matters, including race, education and socioeconomic gaps…but instead of really tackling those issues, they kind of just bouncing around them. The show had no edge and turned out to be a watered-down version of The Carmichael Show, which grated it generally unfavorable reviews and the opportunity to join the list of 1-season sitcoms.
A critic from Vulture said about the sitcom “Not a single scene feels authentic, even if we excuse the over-explanations we often see in comedy pilots. This show is not provocative. It is not a conversation-starter, it is not thoughtful, it is not sharp, it is not enlightening.” Truth be told about Truth Be Told, it was just bad. As simple as that.
2007: The 1/2 Hour News Hour
Originally pitched as “The Daily Show for conservatives”, following the huge success of liberal news satire shows like Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show, Fox News set out to create their own version geared towards their right-wing audience. However, their attempt was a complete miss. The pilot received overwhelmingly negative reviews but the network thought that some minor adaptions would make it work. Fox News Channel eventually purchased 13 more episodes, which aired on May 13, 2007, but was canceled not long after on September 23, 2007.
The main difference between The 1/2 Hour News Hour and its liberal counterparts was that the show seemed afraid to attack or question anything their conservative audience might disagree with. Instead, it aimed to comfort its viewers, at the cost of not being funny. It was if the show lived in a black and white world, forgetting that fumiest jokes mostly live in the grey areas.
2006: Emily’s Reasons Why Not
Emily’s Reasons Why Not was based on Carrie Gerlach’s novel of the same name. The story revolves around a successful career-driven woman, Emily Sanders, who has been unsuccessfully dating in Los Angeles. So she seeks advice from a therapist who recommends that she lists 10 reasons why each of her romantic relationships had failed. As she continues perusing love, she decides that if she can list 5 reasons to break up with a guy, then she does it. Doesn’t sound too outlandish, but the execution was poor, and the show was canceled by ABC, after airing just one episode on January 9, 2006. It literally only took them one episode for the network to realize that the show was a total failure.
Criticisms of the show stated that it was full of gay stereotypes and toxic homophobic behaviors, to others it was seen as a less risqué copycat of Sex and the City…one thing for sure it that it turned out to be yet another example of a series that should have remained a book.
2016: Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, was a spinoff of CBS’s hit police drama series “Criminal Minds”. It’s premise followed an elite FBI team tasked with investigating crimes and rescuing Americans in danger while on international soil. The series never achieved the same high ratings of its parent program and was consequentially canceled after 2 seasons.
Among the negative criticisms the show received, it was heavily criticized for its inaccurate depictions of Singapore in the episode “Cinderella And The Dragon”. It was also said that Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders promoted xenophobia. “Moving on from the prevalent misogyny of the original ‘Criminal Minds,’ CBS’ new spinoff ‘Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders’ is a pure distillation of xenophobia.”. The theme of the spinoff seems to be ‘you win some, you lose some’.
2006: Modern Men
Modern Men was a sitcom about three single men and lifelong friends. Unsuccessful romantically speaking, they decide to hire a life coach to help them with their love lives. The show seemed to cater to the young woman’s fantasy that young men are just as deeply concerned about their love lives and future spouses as they are. While there are some humorous moments, just moments, the rest of the series was pretty dull and unimaginative, and the characters were more like stereotypes and caricatures of men than real men. (Not) surprisingly, the show’s mediocrity wasn’t enough to keep their 14-25 year old female audience engaged.
When the time came for The WB (its broadcaster) and UPN to merge and form The CW, Modern Men got booted after 7 episodes.
2018: Alex, Inc.
The last show on our list, Alex, Inc. is actually based on Alex Blumber’s acclaimed podcast, “StartUp”. In the series, Blumber’s sir name is changed to Schuman, and Alex Schuman, played by Zach Braff. A radio journalist, husband, and father of two, who (quite irresponsibly) quits his job to start his own company.
We all love seeing Zack Braff’s return to the sitcom world for the first time since Scrubs. And this time, as an actor, producer, and director, but unfortunately the Alex, Inc “comedy” series wasn’t very relatable, and nothing to tell your friends about. To the surprise of no one, ABC canceled the show a week before its season finale aired.
2006: American Inventor
Coasting off the mega success of the beloved American Idol, creators decided to keep the ball rolling with the seemingly promising reality series American Inventor. The show turned out to be a total failure when viewers discovered that it was more about the judges mean comments than the innovators themselves. Not to mention that it also seemed to a complete rip-off the show Million Dollar Power.
The show was also heavily criticized for showcasing some terribly unoriginal inventions, case in point- season 2 winner, firefighter Greg Chavez, who won for his fire suppression system for Christmas trees called the Guardian Angel. Houston Chronicle described this shoe as a bloated disappointment that spends more time on the judges than the inventors and their inventions.”
2000: Big Brother
A breakthrough idea perhaps when it first came out, but almost 20 years later, this show is as stale as heck. Year after year, the same shenanigans take place. The multiple affairs, the breakdowns and all the human drama you can imagine between 16 bored strangers living together in a made-for-TV house.
If you’re into this show, you have to have a ton of patience for any drama to evolve. According to Variety magazine TV critics, this show is basically playing out like a bad college flashback.
2015: Sex Box
Originally a British series that failed miserably, this American adaptation (why?) involves exactly what the title says. Sex Box, you guessed it, is about contestants having sex in a box. The shows invites various couples of all statuses and orientations to have sex in a box on TV and then step out to discuss it. If you’re going to make a show about such a topic, then perhaps go one step further and show it! This series failed to be entertaining and racy and sort just seemed redundant.
Why Americans adapted this show is a mystery. Critics have called it embarrassing, cringy and even pointless. No real insight into human relationships and all together, quite unnecessary.
2008: Knight Rider
An unnecessary revival of the 80s hit show of the same name, this series made it for only one season. The show turned out to be a ridiculously cheesy remake of the already cliched original starring David Hasselhoff. The saddest part about this show according to so many critics, is that so many attempts were made at bringing this show back.
Even after a terrible Knight Rider film in 2015, producers still thought this would be a good idea. Just as well the show only lasted one season. Looks like the public knew what was good for them and cut this whole ordeal short.
2013: Does Someone Have To Go?
It’s like an extreme makeover but for the workplace. Dysfunctional workplaces get a second chance at succeeding in the business world. The show puts forward angry bosses, lazy employees, and conniving co-workers. Unfortunately, the mix isn’t as exciting. The show fails to keep focus on office dynamics and all in all misses the point.
The 2013 show only lasted six episodes. That is barely a season. Critics gave it 27/100 and users gave it 3.3/10. Newsday said it was like “‘Lord of the Flies’-meets-a-telephone book, and just about as entertaining.”
2007: In Case of Emergency
This half-hour American sitcom follows the lives of a bunch of 30 something high school buddies who are disappointed in how their lives turned out. The pilot premiered in January 2007 and promptly ended in April of the same year. Out of several ABC green lights that year, In Case of Emergency was just not one of them.
The pilot episode was directed by Jon Favreau and the cast included Jonathan Silverman, David Arquette, Lori Loughlin, Kelly Hu, and Greg Germann. All in all 13 episodes of this show aired in 2007 as critics described it as “a shrill, irritating comedy” that has “fleeting glimpses of better show.”
Two brothers who are running away from their mafia family in New Jersey end up in LA and try to live out their American Dream of being restaurant owners. Turns out that their life in hiding is a little harder than initially expected, especially when a woman enters their lives and causes a complex love triangle.
This tella-novella aired no more than 81 episodes before it got canceled in 2006. According to Detroit Free Press “In terms of intelligence, wit and quality, ‘Desire’ is a serious cut below most primetime drama series.” Better luck next time.
2006: Get This Party Started
Like MTV’s Sweet Sixteen but for adults, this show features a bunch of A-list event planners who get together to create memorable events for people’s major milestones. Too bad the show basically celebrates a bunch of nobodies with milestones that aren’t particularly exciting. Not to mention the event planners who lack star quality.
Get This Party Started lasted just two episodes. It’s baffling how this reality show got ‘green-lit’ to begin with. PopMatter magazine said that “UPN’s new series has a shot — in the sweepstakes for the worst reality show of all time.”
2006: How to Get the Guy
As if TV needs another show about dating. We have so many shows where promising young bachelors or bachelorettes run through rings to get their supposed TV-worthy love of their lives. Perhaps the viewers got sick of these shows, because when How to Get the Guy came on, it wasn’t met with the kindest reviews. The show follows four young, attractive women in San Francisco as they seek not “a guy” but “the guy”, but this time, they’re assisted by two love coaches. Yawn. The show only had six episodes.
It seems like this game show turns love to a sport. With the aid of ‘love coaches’, maybe people will be able to be more successful in finding their life partners. While it might be helpful, it doesn’t necessarily make good TV. New York Post called it “a ridiculous, cloying, condescending, wrong-headed reality show.”
2006: Happy Hour
Happy Hour is a 2006 Canadian sitcom that debuted on September 7, 2006. The show follows Henry Beckman, a young man, who after a losing everything- the girl, his apartment and even his job, is forced to start over. The show only lasted thirteen episodes but didn’t even get to air all of them. In fact, the only nation that was (un)lucky to experience all 13 episodes, was Brazil.
The show was actually created by the couple behind that ’70s Show, so it was rather odd when it failed miserably. Something clearly when wrong as their previous show was everyone knows was a total hit. Critics from the Washington Post it was “sheer, excruciating pain…. ‘Happy Hour’ stands a good chance of being named Worst New Show, or at least feeblest new sitcom.”
2000: The Trouble With Normal
This disaster of a show was described as “the misadventures of four paranoid young men whose fear of urban conspiracy leads them to seek counseling in a therapy group run by therapist Claire Garletti.” The show fell especially hard as ABC had seriously really oversold it. It didn’t help that it had John Cryer in it- not exactly an audience fave.
It scored 25 out 100 on Rotten Tomatoes and critics slammed it for it’s over promotion, saying that the show had a”shockingly unfunny ensemble and rotten scripts will undo all that publicity in minutes. On a positive note, this will almost certainly end the TV career of Jon Cryer.”
This show follows teenager Patty Bladell, a victim of fat-shaming who gets into a freak accident and loses all her weight on a hospital liquid diet. Yes, it sounds like a great setup. But wait, there’s more. After being on a liquid diet for three months over summer vacation she is ready to take revenge on her classmate bullies. How she does this? She finds a disgraced civil lawyer and beauty pageant coach and becomes a beauty queen. Together they form a formidable duo. Yikes.
The Netflix show got heavily criticized for it’s approach to fatness. Washington Post said that “the show specializes in the easiest forms of scripted cruelty and snark. The fat-shaming, such that it even exists, is brief and nowhere nearly as harmful as the middling idiocy of the entire effort. That’s my review and also a scolding: If you’re watching this, you really need better things to do.”
Riding on the success of Big Brother,” Unan1mous” keeps in with the strangers in-room theme by locking up nine people in a bunker and making them to choose a winner. A lesson in morality? Teamwork? Communication? Who knows, one thing is for sure, audiences did not really care. The contestants are completely isolated from the outside world. If one of them leaves the bunker, the prize money is cut in half.
This FOX show in the end only aired eight episodes. Critics described this show as an attempt to make one of the most “unpleasant reality shows of all time.” We suppose it’s good that there are some blunders along the way. At least networks learn what works and what doesn’t.
2006: 10.5 Apocalypse
10.5: Apocalypse is miniseries made in 2006 that was written and directed by John Lafia. The show is a sequel to the 2004 series of the same name. It follows a string of natural disasters including earthquakes, tsunamis, sinkholes and earthquakes that were triggered by an apocalyptic earthquake. The Canadian made series was met with a bunch of terrible reviews and it was about as much of a seismic disaster as the ones depicted in the series.
Both audiences and critics ended up hating this show. So much so that the Washington Post said it that “the calamities and catastrophes occur with such frequency and ferocity that, yes, indeed, ‘Apocalypse 10.5’ suffers the curse of being unintentionally funny — even hilarious.”
2007: October Road
One of those ‘back in my hometown’ series, October Road is another ABC American soap opera that failed miserably. The show that debuted on ABC on March 15, 2007, follows Nick Garrett (played by former One Tree Hill star Bryan Greenberg) who is a successful screenwriter suffering from writer’s block. The second season of October Road premiered on in November 2007 but was not renewed for a third season. The sudden (yet unsurprising) news of cancellation prompted the writers to write a super abrupt ending. It did not go down well.
Chicago Tribune called it a wretched show “that not only features a lead character who is an unredeemable nitwit but dialogue that manages to be leaden, preposterous and pretentious all at once.” We sure did all expect more from Laura Prepon. Just as well she redeemed herself with Orange is the New Black.
Another “nitty gritty” British drama about police and crime. The show starred Aidan Gillen and Keeley Hawes and aired on ITV. The unexpected failure of the show left people pretty stumped, as the series was headed by Ed Whitmore, the guy behind the long-running series Waking The Dead, as well as the acclaimed ITV mini-series He Kills Coppers. The show only ran for one season, but somehow, prompted the creation of an American adaption. It’s only a matter of time until the American version gets added to this list.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this pretty biting comment: “Now, you may be saying, ‘There he goes again, that elitist toad.’ But believe me, even Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Bill O’Reilly would think this show was stupid.”
2019: The Masked Singer
Since the year 2002, there have been countless American Idols as well as a string of rip offs. Sometimes they work, such as cases like The Voice and the Glee Project, and sometimes they don’t, like Pitch Slapped and The Naked Choir. Then you get hit shows which somehow take off, but still leave you wondering ‘why does this exist?’. Case in point – The Masked Singer. Based on a South Korean series, the talent contest features talented singers who perform in elaborate identity concealing costumes so that the judges cannot recognize them. This puts the Voice chair to shame.
The panel consists of a bunch of fading stars such as Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls. Robin Thicke and comedian Ken Jeong thrown in there for some reason, oh, and Jenny McCarthy.
2004: Listen Up!
This short-lived CBS sitcom followed Tony Kleinman, a sports show host and his sidekick, Bernie Wilder- a former NFL player. It starred Jason Alexander and Tony Kornheiser. While both these guys are actually pretty funny, the show brought in some lukewarm laughs. The Seinfeld curse is no joke. Perhaps if they got someone else, the show might have taken off.
11 Points criticized the cheesy family story-lines and called it a “recycled ’90s sitcom.”
A show with heaps of potential. This could have been a hilarious family sitcom about the very conflicting personalities of a family of quintuplets. Instead, it ended up as a stale sitcom where the jokes became super predictable and every family member was a total stereotype ie “the little pervert, cool jock, weird random skinny guy, brainy girl, hot blonde airhead girl”.
This show did nothing to renew the family sitcom and just stuck to the old cliches. Of course, this was just another Andy Richter sitcom. The show ultimately only lasted a year. Fun fact, the longest-running Andy Richter is 22 episodes. He must be doing something wrong.
2002: The Rerun Show
A comedy sketch show that parodied sitcoms. Not a bad idea, but parodying comedy feels kind of redundant. The show took a shot at spoofing popular sitcom classics such as The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, Married with Children, What’s Happening!!, Saved by the Bell, Different Strokes, Bewitched, The Partridge Family and One Day at a Time. Unfortunately, the execution was off.
Even with some cameo appearances of original cast members from the parodied shows, this sketch program still failed to get the laughs. In the end, the show only ran for a single season. Sigh, sometimes an idea is just not enough.
2010: Blue Mountain State
Spike TV network- basically TV for dudes has long been airing crazy reality shows that all ‘bros’ love. Inc Master, Cops, 1000 Ways to die, and many more shows feature on this network. For some reason, the network felt it was missing some “quality” scripted drama. Then came Blue Mountain State and nothing ever changed. The show portrays the lives of American college students and all of the football, the drinking, and the frat parties that go with it.
Spike TV’s attempt to break into scripted drama didn’t really go according to plan. Many found the show offensive, misogynistic and smug. 2010 seemed to be the year of bad American college TV shows, but between this and Glory Daze, Blue Mountain State seems to take the cake. With that said, despite the fact that the show was canceled after a year, it did somehow manage to get a cult following. Thanks, Netflix.
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