Netflix’s global popularity is not a fluke. The global streaming service has emerged from humble beginnings way back in 1997 to dominate the marketplace with incredible content that spawned a binge culture.
From series like Master of None to Stranger Things, Narcos, Making a Murderer, Bloodline and BoJack Horseman, few can match them for quality or quantity. These are shows that cable would have passed on time and time again but found a beloved home with Netflix and we adore them for it.
However, there have been some glaring mistakes along the journey as a number of programs have somehow been given the green light when they should have been stopped dead in their tracks. To highlight how absurd some of their decisions have been, Adam Sandler of all people has been awarded a new four-film contract to continue their relationship.
From The Ridiculous 6 to The Do-Over, The Cobbler and 2017’s Sandy Wexler, all of his titles have bombed spectacularly with Netflix. Regardless of the ratings on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, the company handed over a cheque to the 50-year old to make more underwhelming productions simply because the click rate was high.
This transgression has sadly filtered across to their television scheduling. Not every show can be a hit and these 15 series prove that theory correct.
French political dramas are a hard sell at the best of times to a wider Western audience, but even for that ultra-specific niche market – somehow Marseille manages to perplex and bemuse those viewers.
Stereotypes are trotted out from one episode to the next but would you expect anything more from a series that casts the most obvious Frenchman in the world courtesy of Gerard Depardieu?
The domestic press in Europe went to town on the series to decide it’s lackluster script and underwhelming acting from the cast that is described as “cartoonish” and “ridiculous.” Depardieu’s off screen discretions speak to a man that is happy to cash in his cheque and maintain his status rather than produce anything of interest.
Marseille is a watered down French take on House of Cards, removing the stakes of the highest office and any intriguing protagonist or antagonist to maintain interest. Naturally, it has been renewed for a second season.
14 F is for Family
A couple of episodes into F is for Family and you begin to examine what other words begin with the letter 'F' that could describe this show. Sure there are some moments of frivolity and humor that pass the test but as a body of work over a complete season, it falls comfortably short of the mark.
Bill Burr is one of the best comedians of his time, always pushing buttons and bringing his unapologetic Boston style to the entertainment world. But aside from the odd cameo in Chappelle’s Show to Breaking Bad, Burr’s greatest work remains as a stand-up.
The general synopsis of the Murphy family centers around an A-typical Pennsylvania collection of misfits who get on each other’s nerves. While it attempts to take a Simpsons and Family Guy framework in a 1970s setting, Burr’s Frank Murphy is nowhere near as funny or interesting as a Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin.
13 Santa Clarita Diet
How more absurd is the zombie genre going to become? The bottom line is that the DC spinoff iZombie does a far more convincing job of taking a light-hearted and unique take on the undead.
The Santa Clarita Diet bravely attempts to create a horror comedy where Drew Barrymore is a walking, talking cannibal. Yet this premise has a myriad of confusing changes in tone and for those that can stomach through the first episode, the gore and off-color jokes don’t improve much more.
It has been described as a mash-up of Desperate Housewives and Dexter, although those two catered to a specific audience and maintained a plot that had a purpose (at least in the latter’s case).
The absurdity levels go through the roof the longer the show progresses as it attempts to lampoon suburbia in the most grotesque and unapologetic of fashions. There is a strong cult following developed from the Santa Clarita Diet and for those who are hooked, good luck to you.
For the rest of us, it is puzzling how it even made the pre-production phase.
12 Chelsea Does…
Chelsea Handler knows that she is not an expert on the vast amount of topics she claims to be. From racism to marriage, drugs and the invention world that is Silicon Valley – the talk show host does her best to delve into these areas across a 4-episode season.
Chelsea Does… has not been renewed for a second season and the reason of which is most likely the host herself. Prefacing her inexperience or knowledge in these departments, her ego cannot prevent her from questioning, interrupting or deliberating over the top of someone who knows the field far more than she does.
The intention to embark on a quest of discovery to find out more about these facets of society is well intended. But the documentary field is perfected far greater by someone like Louis Theroux, a filmmaker who has the presence of mind to sit back and let the camera and subject matter be the focus.
With Chelsea Does… it is always about Chelsea Handler.
11 Marco Polo
Any television show that loses $200m over the span of just two seasons has nowhere else to turn or anyone else to blame. The horror show that was this American drama debuted in 2014 before it was unanimously canned in 2016 as audiences and critics were left bemused by its creation in the first place.
Marco Polo suffered from the same whitewashing scandal that befell Ghost in the Shell. The only difference was that people watched and cared for the Scarlett Johansson blockbuster, whereas people streaming this car crash turned off in droves.
Inspired by the real-life character set in the Yuan dynasty around the 14th Century, the no-name cast and convoluted screenplay delivered a series that took itself incredibly seriously while having none of the cache they were hoping to enjoy.
HBO have mastered the old world fantasy realm with Game of Thrones and what Marco Polo ended up being was a B-grade cheesy edition without the storyline or gratuitous sex or violence. Yawn.
10 Van Helsing
There are dark horror narratives that manage to push the buttons for the viewer right when you least expect it. Tension is built up and the reward is huge. Think The Walking Dead or American Horror Story.
The same cannot be said to Van Helsing – a Netflix/Syfy series that overcompensates with the blood and gore but forgets that the audience has to actually care about the characters in the first place to have any impact.
It should come as no surprise that the program follows the 2004 flop by the same name, with the Hugh Jackman motion picture almost putting a stranglehold on the Australian’s Hollywood career.
Kelly Overton does her best as Vanessa Van Helsing, the descendent of Abraham, but there is little sense to maintaining an entire show about a vampire hunter that is nowhere near as cool as Blade or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
9 The Ranch
The alarm bells for striking irony have to be rung at full blast anytime a show opens on April Fools Day. The Ranch happened to premiere on Netflix on this date for 2016 as That ‘70s Show co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson reunited once more.
Somehow Sam Elliott of The Big Lebowski and We Were Soldiers fame agreed to play Colt and Rooster’s father Beau Bennett, joined by Debra Winger to round out the main cast.
The show unashamedly portrays the usually forgotten “fly over” parts of the country in a sitcom setting and while there are some serious dramatic moments, it is difficult to perceive these broken people as anything other than alcoholic Colorado folk who offer the same tropes as every other series of its kind.
Kutcher’s shtick wears thin after a couple of episodes, a regular occurrence that has been showcased with Two and a Half Men. If the actor is in a supporting role then fantastic. As a lead? Far less convincing.
Distributed through Netflix’s international scheduling, the streaming service decided to prop up this ailing ABC/Disney production to see it through to 2 full seasons.
The narrative centers on Katherine McNamara’s character Clay Fray, an Arts student who discovers that she is a human shield against an army of demons from the underworld. Insert your regulation spots for werewolves and vampires here with a campy inclusion of fairies and you have a 2016 Canadian take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer mixed with a touch of Harry Potter and 90210.
The teen/fantasy/science-fiction genre for the small screen is hard to crack and at a great risk of running over old territory that has been mastered before. For Shadowhunters, the melodrama is amped up beyond all comprehension to take itself way too seriously.
This could cater to an audience of High School kids who want to see what a cheap knockoff of Twilight on television would look like.
A third season has yet to be announced.
7 Iron Fist
There was plenty of method to the madness that is Iron Fist. Coming hot on the heels of three other Marvel properties Daredevil (2 seasons), Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Iron Fist was intended to be the jewel in the crown as Netflix laid the groundwork for the 2017 ensemble The Defenders.
The result would be a bundled, convoluted mess of a series that offered nothing new or interesting to the table. With 12 different directors over the course of the 13-episode pilot season, there was little consistency as the opening 6 installments labored to a predictable climax.
The casting of Englishman Finn Jones as central protagonist Danny Rand fell flat. As did his love interest Colleen Wing played by Jessica Henwick. The only redeemable feature of the whole show was the double return of Carrie-Anne Moss and Rosario Dawson.
The premise is a mixture of Batman and Arrow all meshed into one, just without any of the mystery. And the less said about the special effects and martial arts moves the better. For a show all about kung-fu, it was severely lacking against its counterparts in The Defenders world.
6 Richie Rich
There is no explanation that justifies the existence of the Netflix 2015 series Richie Rich. Adapted from the Harvey Comics character and coming 21 years after Macaulay Culkin gave an admirable effort to take on the part in 1994, this series is a lazy, slapstick effort that suggested the writers and filmmakers gave up halfway through production.
The cast from Jake Brennan to Joshua Carlon, Lauren Taylor, and Brooke Wexler give placid performances from a script that gives them no chance to venture into interesting territory. Wexler literally plays a sexualized French robotic maid and somehow the animatronic being has the best lines of the whole show.
The handful of viewers who managed to last through the entire run derided the quality and argued that it doesn’t even cater to those feeling nostalgic about the classic cartoon. A complete waste of time, space, and money – the perfect representation for the young brat that is Richie Rich.
Like with many of these programs, it is easy to see how the narrative was appealing as Netflix attempted to make the best out of a limited budget and constraints on casting and special effects. Between fits this category as it explores concepts of a disease outbreak, mass hysteria, isolation, and hierarchy.
Where the series falls down is in the execution. Jennette McCurdy’s Wiley Day carries both seasons as best she can but is let down by a poor supporting cast, a confusing and shoddy screenplay, and any genuine tension or plot twists that a premise such as Between should be able to deliver.
The dialogue is woefully predictable and although the audience does not need to be given a complete exposition as to why or how the virus came to be, something that advanced the plot a little quicker would be more than welcomed.
4 Fuller House
If the 2010s have taught us anything, it is that nostalgia is best left to the past. The 90s smash hit sitcom Full House gave audiences around the world a progressive insight into a mixed family and introduced the world to Bob Saget, John Stamos and of course, the Olsen twins.
2016’s return of Fuller House continued the journey, just without Mary-Kate, Ashley or any of the huge audience to take in a weekly episode. Sure Lori Loughlin, Jodie Sweetin, Candace Cameron-Bure and Andrea Barber are reprising their roles but it still comes across as a Diet Pepsi version of a once beloved program that catered to the whole family.
In all of their wisdom, Netflix has renewed Fuller House for a third season. So there will be more crammed in laugh tracks and boorish writing that only really serves the diehard fans who are desperate to see more of the same.
Will Arnett is a funny and fascinating performer who has plenty of credit in the bank. From his voiceover work on The Lego Batman Movie and a Netflix show that actually works in BoJack Horseman, the 46-year old Canadian native has a proven ability to transition his dry, sarcastic wit across to a production.
For all his skill, Flaked somehow bombs spectacularly. Venturing into some darker, more dramatic territory that doesn’t quite fit Arnett’s playful personality, the Netflix show has the actor play a down on his luck man called Chip who is looking for a sense of purpose in Los Angeles.
It attempts to be deep and meaningful but would be far better served looking at a program like Californication to take some cues. That Showtime series took the viewer along for the ride with David Duchovny’s Hank Moody to the point where you empathized with him in one episode and were left infuriated the very next week. With Flaked it is hard to care either way.
2 Haters Back Off!
Internet celebrities have a bad reputation, but one glance at Colleen Ballinger’s character Miranda Sings and it is easy to see why. Her first season of Haters Back Off! on Netflix attempts to chronicle her rise to fame as a YouTube star, but staying in character as the awkward, over confident and downright bizarre alter ego stretches the premise for all it is worth.
Some find Miranda an entertaining riot who points out the absurdity of fame and shines a mirror to the phenomenon of celebrity culture. While this makes it an intriguing watch in some respects, the endless gags are all about satirizing the same topic time and time again.
There have been parallels drawn between Ballinger and Pee-wee Herman for the fragile performer who has an inflated sense of self. What those two have in common though is a degree of tragedy, failing to realize that they don’t have any real skill in the world of entertainment.
A blatant rip off of the hit NBC show Heroes, Sense8 is popcorn fodder for those that like to zone out and forget they are watching a series that believes it is far more interesting than it is.
Created by the same Wachowskis that brought us The Matrix franchise, the show has a footing in almost every corner of the globe from America to Europe and Asia without ever really catering to anybody in particular.
The story once again revolves around that same idea of personalities who are drawn to a common purpose and discovering the same powers all over again. Essentially becoming a Power Rangers for adults.
As soon as it looks like Sense8 are creating an interesting story arc for one of its main protagonists, it moves on to the next person. It is devoid of any real spectacle and contains too much padding and exposition.
Without a doubt Sense8 tops the lot for Netflix shows that should never have been made in the first place.