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Here Are 10 of the Worst Things TV Did This Year

I'm sure there were worse things that aired somewhere last year. But you don't want to see them.

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FOX

Fox's Dads, among the worst of 2013's worst.

In past years I have written “The 10 Worst TV Shows of  The Year” lists for this website. I now renounce that practice as wrong and misleading. Not because it’s too mean, mind you; because it’s not comprehensively mean enough. If TV is capable of greatness–it is, and it is proving it more than ever–then awful TV is an offense to that potential and should be called out. But if it’s hubris for me to declare that I have seen the 10 best things that aired all year, it’s even more so to pretend I could isolate the 10 worst, much less to rank them.

It’s physically possible, at least, for a critic to screen enough of the year’s good TV to identify the best of the best. But millions of hours of TV is piped over cable a year; there must be awful, awful things that I have not seen–in that vast dark matter of tiny channels, syndication, and cheapo time-filler–because they are awful, because I do not seek them out, because life is a gift that it is a sin to waste. There are others I have forgotten, because the human brain protects itself from trauma.

So the below are not the 10 Worst TV Shows of the Year. They are simply 10 of the worst things someone who watches a lot of TV for a living can recall seeing. And for now, that is good, or rather bad, enough. Alphabetically:

Dads. There have been excellent, funny shows about terrible, bigoted people–All in the Family, South Park, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This was none of those; it too often relied on jokes that could only be funny if the audience thought that cliches about Asians (or whoever else) were funny. And the show’s waste of good comic actors was almost as offensive.

The Dexter finale. I’ll admit that I’d given up hope that Dexter could be as good as its first couple of seasons long ago. But this finale, which went all in on implausibility and cheated any kind of real closure, must have been even rougher for loyal fans who expected better.

The Following. This wasn’t flat-out the worst drama a network aired last year (see Zero Hour, e.g.) and it was enough of a hit to be returning in January. But it was a big, ponderous, increasingly far-fetched example of the growing TV cliche of the evil, nihilist mastermind.

Hemlock Grove. You’ve read a lot of year-end roundups about the rise of Netflix this year with House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange Is the New Black, and I’m betting Netflix is glad most of them forget that this goofy, laughable horror serial existed. (And Ricky Gervais’ Derek must be glad for the diversion.)

Low Winter Sun, Ray Donovan, and Antihero Overload. Like The Following, a couple of not-very-good shows that fall among The Worst for embodying a bad trend: turning the antihero genre of Tony Soprano and Walter White into pain-by-the-numbers.

Ready for Love. The Bachelor meets Millionaire Matchmaker meets the slow demise of your faith in humanity.

60 Minutes’ Benghazi report. The damage done by most of the shows on this list ended the moment you changed the channel. Lara Logan’s credulous interview with a fraudulent “witness” to the killings of Americans in Libya further polarized a political debate and injured the credibility of a TV news institution.

Splash. Some reality shows achieve brilliance by embracing ridiculousness. This awkward, unpleasant diving competition just bellyflopped straight into it.

The View and Katie’s vaccine fumbles. The View, produced by newswoman Barbara Walters, legitimized the dangerous anti-vaccine crusading of Jenny McCarthy by hiring her as a co-host and rationalizing her undermining public health as one more provocative “opinion.” Later, Katie Couric, gave undue legitimacy to critics of the HPV vaccine on her syndicated talk show–and corrected it in a blog post.

Zero Hour. “Ze clocks!” This wacko supernatural thriller about apocalyptic Nazi timepieces might actually have been one of the best shows of the year, it it were a 90-second parody trailer.

Again: This is only a partial list–and thank God for that. Suggest your own Worsts of 2013 in the comments, if you can bear the memories.

36 comments
CherylHogue
CherylHogue

How about Two Broke Girls? Ewwwweee!!

AdamWill
AdamWill

Have you written about Derek at any point? I have a friend who stumbled upon it and is obsessed with it (in a good way), but I've heard almost nothing about it.

chacalcdn
chacalcdn

Hostage where a kidnapped family lasts 4 weeks LOL.


Keep on SMOKING...

bluegraph
bluegraph

Ray Donovan not so bad. Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight both just got Golden Globe noms, especially deserved for Jon Voight who is excellent in the show.

Hijo_del_Mundo
Hijo_del_Mundo

How about The Glades cancelation on a Cliffhanger?

geoff.clarke
geoff.clarke

Ironside was the worst TV show I watched this past year. I think it's in the running for worst cop show of our generation.


Shows that might have been bad, but I didn't give them enough time to damage my brain: Atlantis, Dracula


Shows that were horribly disappointing: Almost Human (has no fun with the future, future looks just like now except criminals have a couple new tricks) Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (completely confusing and uninteresting.)


"Heroes/Homeland/Boomtown" award for worst second season: Grimm, which got lost in its mythology and never hit its stride. Luckily this season looks better.

ScreamingBear
ScreamingBear

How could you miss 2 Broke Girls? This show is NOT funny. It's not funny if the characters shout the punchline out. And because it's about the 2 Broke Girls, they use the word "vagina" as a punchline so much that it wan't funny from the start. they use the other chicks big breasts as an actress by themselves to make it a punchline. The woman from the American Pie movie is so over the top that it smacks of some 80's sitcom performance from Save By The Bell, really bad. The Asian character, when Asians are crying about the lack of diversity, is nothing more than a foil and stereotypical put upon by the two leads. This show had the benefit of its lead in show of the overwrought How I Met Your Mother. I've sat through 2 Broke Dopes a couple of times and each time I keep asking myself, how is this funny? But then, this show is being written by Whitney Cummings, I believe that's her name, who had a show on NBC under her titled name and that show also focused on women's anatomies for humor. Well, I guess it's okay for this woman to make men a punchline but make women parts punchlines as well.

hollybelle
hollybelle

I totally disagree about the vaccine talk & Jenny. She should be applauded & validated for her courage in the midst of the dismissive AMA & Big Pharma as an outstanding Autism Mother and a kick-butt smart Lady  for daring to contest the old adage THAT ALL VACCINES ARE SAFE FOR ALL KIDS. I know first-hand that genetics, sensitive cns/immune systems and status of health and detoxification ability at the time of a vaccine can interfere wiith the vaccine's mechanism/body process & trigger an Autism illness in predisposed children. Way to speak the truth to Power, Jenny!!!!

Love that she was asked to be on the View-smart & entertaining as well as a PIONEER in the Autism debate.. Thanks Jenny & Katie too for your concern for truth in Medicine & the FACTUAL  reality of the devastating effects resulting from many vaccine complications today.          

worddotjones
worddotjones

So many choices..., so little quality viewing, worthy comedy. It's a wasteland.  And there's Wilfred, which dumped on itself this year....

One month to Downton Abbey. Not to be snobbish, but it is quality writing, story, acting.  Golly.

And Doctor Who.

Bullsgt
Bullsgt

Can we add reality shows to this list please! I'd say all of them!

patsijean
patsijean

We watched "The Following" largely because Kevin Bacon is in it.  That said, enough is enough.  It got to the point I was keeping a scorecard of bad guy and good guy wins and trust me the bad guys won most of the time.  The series featured the dumbest collection of FBI agents ever seen, the dumbest kid, and dumbest ex-wife.

checkoutmyash
checkoutmyash

How did "The MIllers" manage to stay off this list?

ShunkW
ShunkW

Dads had such potential with a good cast but the writers should be tied up and forced to watch every episode over and over again.

MitchellNance
MitchellNance

Someone needs to teach the author of this piece how to proofread.

burdburn
burdburn

Canceling and then not finding a new home for Happy Endings was the worst thing TV did this year.

shyguysb84
shyguysb84

I wouldn't say Ray Donovan was that bad. Sure, it could be so much better but it's no way bad enough to warrant  a placing on a "worst TV of  the year" list! 

RevDJEsq
RevDJEsq

Any list that omits Super Fun Night (which somehow managed to waste the talents of Rebel Wilson) is lacking.


I'll also mention some long-running shows that have fallen flat on their face: Community (yikes that was a horrible season without Dan Harmon), Bones (put this in the "maybe the Moonlighting theory has legs" column), The Bachelor/Bachelorette (Desiree to Juan Pablo? That's the best you can do? And you cancelled the so-bad-it's-good Bachelor Pad?), and Modern Family (still funny, but not nearly the comedic juggernaut the awards community thinks it is).

timeserf
timeserf

@ScreamingBearSo, you complain about the explicit crude humor in "Girls," which I am by no means defending, but do not mention the much more plentiful and more explicit references to "naughty bits" and "boobies" in HIMYM. That is not to mention that despicable show feeding the not-so-epic NPH's ego by having the entire season focus on his wedding. He still is a supporting character.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@hollybelle  

Ladies and gentlemen piling on Hollybelle...  Enough.  Assuming this poster isn't just a shill or troll, you're dealing with the delusional whose sense of reality is not in the same galactic quadrant of anything resembling the real world.

While I fully agree that this poster deserves all of the scorn and condemnation that's physically possible to heave onto someone who's going to be a future honorable mention for killing off all of her own offspring due to a lack of readily available and effective vaccines, doing so will do no good.  He or she has fully and joyously embraced the trending habit among the fearful sub-average IQ types called willful ignorance.  Willful ignorance is just that.  They not only are ignorant about things, but they are so deluded as to think that facts which are contrary to their contrived reality are tainted, invalid, wrong or they simply refuse to listen to them or believe they exist.  In that contrived delusion of theirs, only "facts" that agree with them are accepted as true and right and correct and believable.  This is done willfully due to their delusional break from a reality.  They would rather live in their concept of reality rather than deal with the one that actually exists.

Least anyone think I'm being facetious, allegorical or indulging in gross hyperbole, you might want to google it.  The best references can be found looking for why the conservatives refuse to listen to what a sane person would consider to be reason.  The bottom line is they are actually and clinically delusional, and their support systems reenforce the delusion.

In short, Hollybelle is very likely clinically insane - though probably a high-functioning nutjob.

Keep in mind that it's very possible the average American today in intelligence and common sense is, literally, a moron, compared to the average American in 1890.  (Google THAT one, too.)  Look at how people distort their views of reality to suit their preconceptions (demanding the right to carry guns in the streets as crime is hitting a historic low, and gun ownership is killing more people by suicide ALONE in four states that CARS do - google that.  It's hard to believe until you see it for yourself).  People are getting demonstrably more stupid and more delusional as time goes on.

Hollybelle is merely one more such person in a very long list of such people.  On the bright side, these folks don't tend to believe in evolution nor the truth about natural selection and will likely manage to remove their defective genes, one way or the other, from the pool in humanity's future - that is, if they don't end up making sure humanity has no future before then.

westwingpotus
westwingpotus

@hollybelle while it's very true that not every medicine wil work for every person, but it's really not a good idea to put the health of your kids in the hands of a gullible former playboy bunny -- who in turn put her faith in a guy whose work has been roundly and throughly discredited by the scientific community and whose results were found to be fabricated.

Yet despite this, McCarthy continues to tout her TinFoilHat theories to the under-educated and the if-its-on-the-interent-it-must-be-true set.  There's reasoned "debate" and then there is being irresponsible - McCarthy is irresponsible.  And shame on Walters for giving this dimwit a platform, it's been apparent for years that she was in her dotage, but it was only with this idiotic decision that it just became aparent just how much she's lost it.

McCarthy needs to go back to doing what she does best, date men more wealthy and more famous than herself and occasionally flashing her boobies for money.

lrobinl58
lrobinl58

@hollybelle NOTHING is safe for everyone, but to rail against life-saving vaccines because there MIGHT be a connection between them and a very small segment of the population is downright dangerous. I have worked for pediatricians for years and have never once heard them say that vaccines pose no risks; of course any foreign substance pout into the human body has the potential to pose a risk, and if it does for a particular person, that is unfortunate, but that doesn't mean that drug or vaccine is universally bad. Not getting children vaccinated because of a minuscule risk is not the answer.

Cactus44
Cactus44

@hollybelleDon't look now, but you've just proven the writers point in way that he never could have done himself.  You're the living incarnation of the evil that McCarthy has visited on America. In fact, I'm almost suspect that this reply is actually by a shill.  It's just to perfect an illustration of the damage that dearest Jenny has done.


BTW, did you know that the paper upon which the entire anti-vaccine movement was based was withdrawn by it's author with an apology and an acknowledgement that it was completely wrong?  Go ahead.  Google it.  It's true.


Did you know that in 2 Scandinavian countries where Therosimol was banned that autism rates went up in the years following?  Go ahead.  Check it out.  A thing called 'science' has demonstrated these things as being what's called a '"fact".  And these 'facts'?  They're things that can be known with complete certainty, unlike the drivel that Jenny McCarthy spews. 


And, finally, did you know that when science is ignored and denied, that real people, some in your neighborhood are injured?  Sometimes very badly.


Just a few things to consider.

TallusRip
TallusRip

@hollybelle You do realize that the ingredients that anti-vaccers tout as being autism-causing are in miniscule quantities?  You'll find more arsenic in an apple than in a vaccine.  It has been proven time and again that there is absolutely no connection between shots and autism.  Please educate yourself.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@hollybelle What you and your apparent heros lack is any basic knowledge of science.  Neither science nor knowledge are dirty words.

dlas
dlas

hollybelle, it must be bliss.

TallusRip
TallusRip

@worddotjones I'll politely disagree on Doctor Who.  The writing has gone downhill since Moffat took over as the primary author.  Nothing good can be said of a guy who completely washes his hands of previously established canon and ignores every character the show ever had until forced to acknowledge them.  The dude re-started the show and made it dry and trite.  Davies was the superior writer by far.

ScreamingBear
ScreamingBear

@patsijean I wholeheartedly agree with you on your assessment of The Following. Somewhere in that telling, the show became a joke with the bad guys. The logic of it all became preposterous. How is it that some college professor becomes what could be describe on the scale of some Bond villain who has minions in all levels of the government? Just when you think all the bad guys are accounted for, here is one who's a mole at the FBI, AT&T, Google, the local dog catcher, Wal-Mart, you name it, this guy has a mole working for him. And yes, these must be some of the most incompetent FBI that has ever been portrayed on screen short of being in a Pauly Shore movie. This show has lost me as a viewer. I thought the story line was done on the character but they are bringing it back and beating it to death. I have no desire, want or need to invest anymore time with this show. If we are relying on the "jump the shark" situation, this show did and got bitten and swallowed whole. It reminds me of the NBC Heroes and how that started out with great expectation but lost its way in the second season because they didn't know what to do with the characters after the great build up. With The Following though, they got lost after the fifth airing and slowly sank further into the abyss.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@checkoutmyash It missed because this article is one person's opinion, published to push all of us to think about what we watch, and why we do so.  That, and for each of us, it's a numbers game. 


But it is just one person's opinion.

Think_again
Think_again

@burdburn 


I was a fan too, but the characters were starting to get too hysterical in their plays for laughs. It was time --- though the show was certainly not replaced with anything better.

timeserf
timeserf

@RevDJEsqHow soon we forget "We Are Men" and "Welcome to the Family."

ScreamingBear
ScreamingBear

@timeserf @ScreamingBear I'm not so much complaining about the crude humor, my point is that they think that by using these words that it suppose to be funny which it is not. I've written comedy for a team of performers and adult content can be funny without being explicit. They are banking on the fact that because certain words that aren't part of everyday conversation will shock the senses but it only becomes a speed bump in the humor because it fails to deliver the intended results. Compare Richard Pryor to Bill Cosby for example, Richard used explicit language to deliver his comedy but he used it in a way during that period of time to point the humor to himself. Those who followed in his footsteps bastardized his technique by using explicit language that added nothing to the delivery and George Carlin's seven dirty words was a comedy clinic on the use of how those words worked in adult comedy . Bill Cosby on the other hand is a story teller to his comedy where he brings you along in telling. He hooks you in and your are engaged in the situation where he puts you in his place because he's relating a story that you may have been in as well. That's his style and it works for him.


I watched HIMYM the first season and dropped it after they brought you along with the hook of Ted talking about meeting the mother of his children. I liked the Ted and Robin pairing but when they broke up at the end of the season, that told me that these writers had no idea what to do after that point. I had invested myself into these likable characters and the pairing and  haven't been back since. Over the course of the show's run, I've seen the promos and the focus seems to have shifted all on Neil Patrick Harris's Barney character. My abandoning the show was based on similar shows that started off with a good premise but had nowhere to go after that (e.g. Heroes, Revenge).  Sitcoms involving relationships are notoriously bad in dealing with the treatment of the two characters when they pair them together. The writers seems to have no clue about relationships. Once they hook them up, it's like the morning after of well, where do we go from here? There have been few sitcoms who've made it worked, one of them being Friends, with Monica and Chandler. Of course that show ran a long time and they have invested well in developing the two characters where you cared about them. Of what I've seen in the HIMYM promos and the syndicated show reruns, Barney comes off as the central figure now and a pompous narcissistic  blowhard. 


With a lot of these sitcoms, you have to wonder how they made it on the air? The networks are struggling to find descent shows but with new avenues opening up thanks to the Internet, more edgier content can be found on Netfix, Hulu, Amazon TV, Yahoo, even YouTube. If you are sitting there for that half hour and if you laugh only three seconds in that viewing time, you're not getting your comedy quotient for the day. I've sat through 2 Broke Girls a few time trying to give this show a chance but it keeps failing me. There aren't that many good sitcoms on network television. Parks and Recreation works for me and Modern Family still holds up on occasion. The rest is just tumbleweeds blowing down the dusty road.

Mrt1212Bea
Mrt1212Bea

@timeserf@RevDJEsq Was I the ONLY person who liked WTTF? I thought it was funny, without beating you over the head with a funny stick, and the parents were excellent! Maybe because the kids were drips, but damn, the rivalry between the dads could have ben epic!