Ever since it got into the business of producing its own content, Netflix has been churning out one quality show after another. From early Netflix exclusives such as Orange is the New Black, which turned a generation of women onto the joys of same-sex relationships, to the recent documentary The Keepers, which is thrilling and sickening in equal measure, Netflix has given us plenty of reasons to continue paying its monthly fee.
That being said, the streaming service giant has presented its viewers with more than a few duds in recent years. I suppose it isn’t really a surprise. I mean, Netflix seems to be releasing more and more original content with each passing day. When you start producing that much programming, you begin falling into the mindset of “quantity over quality”, something which Netflix is treading dangerously close to. While it is still giving its subscribers a collection of shows which can hold up against its past successes, many of its recent offerings have been seriously underwhelming, thoroughly uninteresting, and, quite frankly, an insult to the intelligence of the viewer.
Today, I want to show you some of the absolute worst of Netflix’s original productions, which you should absolutely not watch under any circumstances.
Here are 15 current Netflix shows guaranteed to make you dumber.
15. Amy Schumer: The Leather Special
When Netflix first began producing stand-up specials, it worked predominantly with smaller names who had not yet managed to score a special with HBO. However, as the years went on, the streaming service began inking deals with giants of stand-up comedy, including Bill Burr, Louis CK, and Amy Schumer.
Amy Schumer’s debut Netflix special, dubbed The Leather Special owing to her choice of outfit, was heavily promoted and equally poorly received. Perhaps as a consequence of Schumer’s crazy schedule over the past two years or so, the jokes featured in The Leather Special are underdeveloped and, at times, predictable. Struggling to wrangle laughs from the audience, Schumer resorts to a tried and tested method of evoking chuckles by comparing the scent of a certain part of her body to that of a “small barnyard animal”.
14. Sandy Wexler
Adam Sandler hasn’t exactly made a career for himself by winning Oscars and making audiences weep. Historically, his movies have not just been stupid, but abrasively so, as if proud of their threadbare plots and overacting. However, the recently released Netflix exclusive Sandy Wexler is dumb even by the standards of Happy Madison Productions.
Sandy Wexler features Sandler in the role of the titular character, a mumbling, stumbling buffoon desperately trying to make it as a talent agent. It isn’t the first movie to be produced about the adventures of a haphazard Hollywood manager, but it’s certainly up there with the worst. Amounting to a total of two hours of Adam Sandler’s worn out, lackadaisical shtick, Sandy Wexler is bound to knock your IQ down a couple of notches.
13. Fuller House
Fuller House is arguably the most famous case of Netflix reviving an old favorite and the perfect example of why the streaming service juggernaut should stick to shows it conceives of itself.
A resurrection of the late 80s/early 90s comedy Full House, Fuller House catches up with the original characters of the franchise to show viewers what they are up to now. Therein lies the problem. Fuller House offers nothing that its predecessor didn’t. The cast is predominantly the same, the settings and situations are almost identical to those of three decades ago, and the jokes feel as though they have simply been recycled from old episodes. While fans of Full House will enjoy the nostalgia trip offered by Fuller House, the series is void of any artistic merit and comes off as one lazy joke after another.
12. Haters Back Off
It is interesting to note that Haters Back Off is one of the first scripted comedies produced by Netflix to feature a “YouTube celebrity”. The show is based on the Miranda Sings character created by Colleen Ballinger as she attempts to succeed in the world of show business, armed only with a massive ego and minuscule amount of talent.
While the Miranda Sings character has been a major hit on YouTube, it doesn’t translate quite as well to Netflix, where she must captivate viewers for 20 minutes and beyond. The result of Ballinger’s lack of TV comedy experience is an increasingly clumsy series with hastily written jokes that often feel as though they were pulled from the comments section of one of her YouTube videos.
11. Arrested Development
When Arrested Development was canceled by Fox back in February of 2006, fans of the show were left devastated. For almost a decade, they waited patiently for the series to be resurrected or for a movie to tie up loose ends and give Arrested Development devotees a sense of closure. I’m sure you can imagine how excited Arrested Development fans the world over were when it was announced Netflix would be reviving the series as a Netflix exclusive. Similarly, I’m sure you can imagine how disappointed they were when the long-awaited fourth season failed to live up to its predecessors.
In its heyday, Arrested Development was known as a smart comedy, an alternative to the traditional laugh track heavy sitcom. However, those tasked with writing the revival were unable to tap into what made the original series work so well, leaving us with a show that felt more like an impression of an intelligent comedy than something with any degree of artistic merit.
10. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is the perfect example of Netflix cashing in on the wondrous combination of nostalgia and a cult following. The series serves as a prequel to the 2001 movie Wet Hot American Summer and features the actors of the original film, having aged significantly, playing younger versions of their characters, which was funny for the first half of the first episode but quickly became annoying and a tad confusing.
Rather than clever scripts or memorable performances, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp relies on celebrity cameos and constant breaking of the fourth wall to remain interesting. The series is supposed to make a mockery of those ridiculous teen sex comedies of the 00s but instead seems to glorify them.
9. Iron Fist
Netflix has tried again and again to break into the Marvel Universe, but its attempts have been consistently underwhelming. However, no Netflix/Marvel offering has been criticized more than Iron Fist.
Iron Fists follows the story of Finn Jones, whose wealthy parents are killed when he is just a child. After the death of his parents, Jones enters eccentric billionaire territory and spends several years among a group of monks, training in martial arts. Sound familiar?
The series was loathed by even the most dedicated Marvel supporters. The unoriginal story and inability to splice key moments with compelling subplot led to it being described as one-dimensional, while the unconvincing fight scenes were declared an insult to all who took the time to watch even a single episode.
8. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tells the tale of a young girl who is forced to adapt to life in the outside world after being rescued from a doomsday cult in Indiana. Living in New York City, Schmidt meets a variety of interesting characters who help her move on from her ordeal.
While the show has received widespread critical acclaim, hardcore comedy fans have had few positive things to say about it. Much like Arrested Development, it comes off more as an impression of an intelligent comedy rather than the next Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show draws much of its humor from the ironic use of urban language and the sassy shenanigans of Titus Andromedon, Kimmy’s sassy, gay, African-American roommate, a character who becomes increasingly stereotypical and offensive as the series goes on.
7. The Do-Over
The Do-Over was released by Netflix in May of 2016 and follows the story of Charlie and Max, two friends who elect to fake their own deaths in order to get a fresh start in life. It’s a relatively promising plot, but it is derailed by the presence of one man: Adam Sandler.
Sandler and David Spade, playing Max and Charlie respectively, wind up stealing the identities of two criminals, which, as you might have guessed, gets them into all sorts of wacky situations. The movie has been criticized for its uninspired plot, lazy casting, sexist portrayals of women, and collection of jokes that were funnier when Sandler first did them two decades ago. If you absolutely must watch The Do-Over, I advise you to keep a Rubik’s Cube in your hands at all times, just to ensure you don’t completely slip into idiocy during the almost two-hour long farce.
6. Trailer Park Boys
If you liked Larry the Cable Guy, you’ll love Netflix’s Trailer Park Boys. Except, I know you probably don’t like Larry the Cable Guy because you’re reading an article right now rather than sitting in a kiddie-pool drinking beer and eating hot dogs.
Trailer Park Boys is basically the Canadian alternative to American blue collar comedy and features a group of friends getting themselves in and out of a variety of situations without any real logic. As the series progresses, their antics become more outlandish and implausible, and the frequency of needless celebrity cameos increases, which has led to many fans of the series abandoning it. The original Trailer Park Boys series has spawned several movies and live specials, none of which should be viewed by anybody, ever.
5. Real Rob
Thanks to shows such as Louie and Maron, there has been a huge increase in demand for sitcoms following the fictionalized lives of famous stand-up comedians, which is why Netflix thought it had hit on a real winner when it began airing Real Rob. The series is similar to the aforementioned sitcoms of Louis CK and Marc Maron in its format and stars Rob Schneider as he attempts to balance his career as a stand-up comedian with his role as a family man.
Now, a major problem with Real Rob from the get-go is that Rob Schneider is not a particularly respected standup comedian but has been immensely successful in Hollywood, which meant viewers of the first season struggled to sympathize with him. Despite this, Netflix commissioned a second season of the show, which is due to be released this year and will likely once again ask viewers to turn a blind eye to the fact that the fictionalized Rob Schneider is a terribly crafted character that only a fool could like.
4. Bill Nye Saves The World
There was a time when Netflix was really invested in producing groundbreaking programming which challenged the status quo of the entertainment industry and society as a whole. Bill Nye Saves the World, however, further marks Netflix’s descent into simply throwing money at somebody millennials liked when they were children and hoping the nostalgia lasts just long enough for them to double or triple their investment.
Bill Nye Saves the World has been criticized for a variety of reasons, with many adults complaining that the professor does not go into enough detail on certain topics, despite the fact his whole shtick is introducing children to the joy of science. Nye has also drawn criticism from the scientific community, who believe he is simply telling his audience what they want to hear, oftentimes spending significant chunks of each episode discussing socio-political issues. Those who turn to Bill Nye with the aim of gaining a better understanding of scientific matters will be sorely disappointed and will learn more from five minutes explainer videos on YouTube.
3. Richie Rich
The Netflix adaptation of the Harvey Comics series Richie Rich features Jake Brennan in the title role. Brennan’s character is a small boy who has recently become a multi-trillionaire thanks to his discovery of an ingenious method of harnessing electricity from clean vegetables.
The show sounds, at the very least, harmless. However, it is packed to the brim with questionable quality jokes, hackneyed story arcs, and uninspired acting. What makes the show so much of a threat is that it is intended for children. While it will educate younger viewers on the benefits of fruit and vegetables and the importance of clean energy, it may contribute to the systematic lowering of their standards and have them good and complacent with what they see on television before they even reach the ripe old age of ten.
When Netflix began promoting Chelsea, the first talk show to air on the streaming service, it painted it as an edgy alternative to what was being offered by the networks. Chelsea Handler, if the show’s marketing team was to be believed, was the cure for Jimmy Fallon, who had been running roughshod over the proud American tradition of late night television with mini game shows and an exaggerated laugh.
However, what Netflix promised and what Netflix delivered were very different indeed. Instead of the anti-talk show we were promised, we received something that was frustratingly similar to The Tonight Show. The only notable difference between Chelsea and its mainstream alternatives is that Chelsea’s dumb jokes are not intended to be dumb. They are instead written with the intention to shine a harsh light on the politics of the world through wit and satire. However, they are written by American comedy writers who are unfamiliar with the politics of any nation but their own which results in the jokes feeling unnatural and more than a little patronizing.
Mascots, which was released by Netflix in October of 2016, actually seemed pretty promising when it was first announced. A mockumentary about sports mascots competing against each other to determine who has the most spunk and school spirit is something which felt like it should have been done before and yet definitely hadn’t. Netflix subscribers were excited. Unfortunately, the premise was poorly executed and it led to the whole project tanking.
The movie, which producers were hopeful would become the next Spinal Tap, was mercilessly torn apart by critics, who bemoaned its destruction of a promising plot with a feeling of disinterest which increases as the movie progresses and lowest common denominator jokes that wouldn’t make it inside a Christmas cracker.