We are currently in the hottest age of television there has ever been in decades. We are at a point where television shows are of cinematic quality. In terms of writing, acting ability, and even visual cinematographic quality, television shows are now capable of a special level of excellence in the visual medium that surpasses modern film. There’s a reason why so many surveys and studies over the last couple years have shown that more and more people are starting to prefer staying in to watch tv than go to the movies. Television—both in its traditional format and its digital format—is in high demand and more popular now than it has ever been. However, popular does not always mean better. That statement is not meant to refer to television as a whole, but to those specific tv shows that we dedicate so much of our time to watching.
That’s right, even popular shows can suck. Some popular shows are popular despite how much they suck or, in rare cases, it is because of how badly they suck that they become must watch television. Other times, the show may have always sucked, but we watch it to stay in the loop with peers who love to talk about the show. Sometimes, a show may start off great, and then start to suck along the way. In some cases, shows are just hard to back out of after we’ve spent so many episodes and seasons watching them. We often find ourselves in a bittersweet conundrum when we finally realize that the current season of a show we are watching now pales in comparison to it’s former glory. When the show becomes worse than it used to be, we have two options: either give up on it as if the last few years we spent watching it was a waste or just hang in there. Here are some shows that we have chosen to hang in there with until the very end, for better or worse.
15. Legends of Tomorrow
Legends of Tomorrow is the redheaded stepchild of The CW’s DC Comics universe. No one likes it, no one wants it around, but viewers put up with it because it’s part of the DC family. Given how often all of The CW’s DC shows tend to crossover, it makes Legends of Tomorrow essential viewing. DC fans don’t want to quit on Legends of Tomorrow in fear that they’ll miss out on certain crossover storylines or moments. Especially in light of this year’s week long mega-crossover event, Heroes v Aliens, it only reiterates why it’s necessary to watch all four of those DC shows. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Legends of Tomorrow was anywhere on par with its fellow CW shows. Supergirl, The Flash, and Arrow have all been solid the past couple years while Legends of Tomorrow has been terribly inadequate. Most viewers will admit that the show’s current season is better than their last, but that debut season for Legends of Tomorrow left enough of a bad taste in everyone’s mouth that the second season still reeks of the previous season’s bad stench.
14. Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is a crappy show with brilliant episodes. I know, sounds like an oxymoron, but let me break it down. There was once a time when GoT was brilliant overall. Then, the writers decided to occasionally eschew away from George R. R. Martin‘s material in favor of original controversial plotlines, which include unnecessary acts of sexual assault. Despite being mostly full of crap and insensitive scenes, there is an occasional brilliant episode that keeps us coming back. Even if there wasn’t any brilliance, it’s hard not to come back when the show is so popular. It can be argued that Game of Thrones is the hottest show on tv, meaning everyone is talking about it. With that said, we all watch it just to stay in the loop. No one wants to be the one person at work not talking about last night’s incredible episode where Tyrion rode the skies alongside Daenerys on a flaming unicorn that defecated pixies whenever it farted. Ok, that never happened (yet), but how would you know if you don’t watch it? That’s why we all have to watch it.
13. New Girl
New Girl is a show that has managed to survive for the past 6 seasons almost despite itself. At its core, New Girl is a bad show. Many of the characters that the main character, Jess, chooses to surround herself with are unbearable douchebags and Jess herself is annoyingly quirky. In fact, the show itself is annoyingly quirky because it tries too hard to be quirk. In earlier episodes, the quirky awkwardness of the show and its characters made for a pleasant comedy. Then, the longer the show went on, the more it tried too hard to re-create that quirkiness on a weekly basis. It goes without saying that the shtick got old fast. Thankfully, sometimes the charm of Zooey Deschanel can shine through her nuisance of a character and makes the show watchable at the very least. The charisma of Deschanel is what made New Girl a ratings hit to begin with and continues to do so now.
12. Orange is the New Black
A tv show is only as good as its lead character and boy, the lead character of Orange is the New Black is aggravating. It goes beyond the protagonist of Piper Chapman just being irritating to watch or the audience being fed up with her nonsensical actions. It’s that she just won’t go away. She manages to find a way to weasel herself into just about every single inmate’s storyline and has single-handedly ruined several episodes of the once captivating series. There once was a time when she kept enough of a safe distance away from inmates that episodes could be bearable, but clearly, that is no longer the case. There was also once a time when her fellow inmates were entertaining enough to make up for it, but so much of the supporting cast seem to have lost their luster in more recent seasons. Maybe we can blame it on Piper rubbing off her rust on these formerly shiny characters. The show is still watchable thanks to a happy few inmates who still retain their charm, but give it time. They’ll start to suck too, just like this show. All because of Piper Chapman.
11. Fuller House
When Netflix first announced that they were rebooting the Full House universe by bringing back old cast members for a new spin-off called Fuller House, it was hard for anyone who grew up with the show to not get a little excited. That’s what nostalgia does to us. One mention of something significant from our childhood and, suddenly, we’re tempted to revisit it. Nostalgia is the main reason why so many of us were drawn to the spin-off and the main reason why some of us continue to watch it despite Fuller House being an insipid mess of a show. The sitcom laugh track format feels dated in 2016 and even more so when applied to a Full House revival. In trying to strike a balance for new kid viewers and nostalgic adult viewers, the writers can’t decide if they want their humor to be overtly crude for older audiences or childish for younger audiences. Either way, the jokes fall flat. But both parties keep coming back to the show because adults need nostalgia and kids don’t know any better.
10. Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live hasn’t been a great, well rounded sketch comedy show in years. The writing is subpar at best, and that’s being generous given how many horrendous sketches there have been in the last decade. The majority of the cast is overrun with incompetent cast members. There’s usually at least one or two stars who shine among the cast, but they are always so good at their jobs that their SNL tenures only last a couple years before they move on to Hollywood and leave the show in the hands of their duller cast members. There are only two things that keep us coming back to SNL: the show’s legacy and the show’s hosts. The show has been around for over 40 years and for that reason alone will always have a loyal fanbase, whether the show deserves it or not. Plus, the hosts are more often than not able to deliver and use their charm to help elevate lackluster material.
Judging by the show’s concept, Lucifer should be a great show. As awkward as it may be for audiences to find themselves rooting for The Devil, the idea behind Lucifer getting wrapped up in detective work as he’s trying to enjoy his retirement in Los Angeles is a genuinely fascinating one. That mixed with material based from the works of a genius like Neil Gaiman should have made Lucifer an instant tv winner. Except it isn’t. The main problem is that the show rests on the shoulders of a basic cable station, FOX. On a channel like HBO or Showtime where the show’s seedy storylines have the freedom to be lewd, Lucifer would meet its true potential. Sadly, on FOX, Lucifer is tame to the point that it’s often unbearable. The only thing keeping it on the airwaves is the delightfully devilish performance of Tom Ellis. Every week, Ellis bites his teeth hard into the role of Lucifer well enough to keep fans wanting more. It’s a performance that deserves a better show, which also deserves a better network.
8. Teen Wolf
Compared to most shows based on classic movies from the 80s (we’re looking at you, FOX’s Lethal Weapon), Teen Wolf isn’t all that bad. That doesn’t make it any good, but there are worst ways to spend an hour of your time every week. Still, there are better ways to spend an hour of your time every week than watch a second-rate show like Teen Wolf. A show with inconsistent storylines that feel irrelevant by the next week, 30 year old actors trying to pass as teenagers, and glittery tween nonsense. One can argue that this is something solely for the teen demographic, but even they only watch the show because the actors are attractive. It’s a shallow reason, but teens are shallow; we’ve all been there. Right now, given that the show is in its final season, some people watch because they’re curious to know about how the show will end and feel inclined to watch its final episodes. As the show is nearing its finale, let’s not mourn because the show is ending. Let’s mourn because many of us felt forced to sit through it for the last 6 years.
7. The Big Bang Theory
While a lot of the shows on this list started off strong before sucking in their most recent seasons, The Big Bang Theory was never a good show. It portrayals of stereotypical nerd culture are borderline autistic. Don’t believe me? Try to imagine the show without its laugh track and tell me you don’t imagine a cast of characters bullying on an Aspergers stricken man like Sheldon. Which, speaking of the laugh track, it is tonally ironic. As much as the sitcom laugh track feels dated in 2016, it also feels abysmal to a show like The Big Bang Theory where the jokes fall so flat so often. But since there’s a laugh track, we have to pretend its funny. Given how insulting the show is to nerds and anyone with an ear for comedy, it leaves us wondering why people still watch it. Well, as someone who has spent time in the psych field, TBBT is an easy watch when trying to weed out simplified explanations for complex psychological and scientific theories. So, really, the only way TBBT is worth watching is when psych professors need to pick a scene to show their students as an example. Trust me, it works.
6. Downton Abbey
This one is especially for the Brits out there who had to sit through this drivel. Granted, to be fair, Downton Abbey started off as a wonderful show deserving of its many accolades. The show’s lavish costume design, gripping story developments, and tour de force performances from the entire cast were all worthy of being drowned in awards. Then, some point around the way, the show lost its way. Specifically, the show became more about the style rather than the actual substance. In truth, the acting and costumes remained as impressive as ever—which is reason enough why so many were skeptical to turn their backs on the show—but the stories became reminiscent to that of a soap opera. The writing used to strive off slow build and subtle character arcs, but eventually dwindled down to random deaths and melodramatic shock value. Thankfully, the show was finally put out of its misery in 2015. Fans remained loyal until the end because they had already gotten in too deep into the show and wanted a satisfying ending.
When it first premiered on HBO, Girls was praised as a show that represented the millennial generation of women. In many ways, that is true. Before Girls came around, it was rare to see plus sized women speak with such raw, realistic vernacular as Hannah and her friends do in New York. The problem is that Hannah and her sisterhood of pals are a rather obnoxious bunch. Within the first couple seasons, we finally realized just how self-absorbed and oblivious to their own self-entitlement these girls are and after spending 5 seasons with them (the 6th is on the way), they became exasperating to watch. So why keep watching? The same reason why the show appealed to critics during its inception: it provides a voice for millennial women. Well, millennial white women. Audiences don’t get to see much color on a weekly basis, but since the show has retained its core audience of white women, the show has remained a ratings hit as it approaches its final season.
Empire, for all intents and purposes, is a trashy soap opera. In many ways, that is actually the main appeal of the show. The worse the show is, the more audiences find themselves pulled in its direction. As ludicrous as it sounds, it couldn’t be more true. Audiences find Empire appealing in the same way that people find a trainwreck appealing. It’s an awful sight, but it’s hard to look away. Empire is a weekly trainwreck in every sense of the word. From the bad songs to the ridiculous bits of dialogue to the senseless, disjointed, and overall muddled stories. It’s all so bad that it’s laughable and all so laughably bad that it’s entertaining. Empire is trash tv at its finest and audiences eat it up every week. Plus, if we are being perfectly honest, veteran actors like Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard deliver crummy dialogue and make it sound Oscar worthy. Empire is a mess, but it’s an extravagant and often hilarious mess.
3. The Walking Dead
It’s hard to give up on a show after you have already invested so much time into it. This is why The Walking Dead has found itself such a loyal fanbase. Not because the show is any good, but since fans have dedicated 7 seasons thus far to the series, no one is willing to give it up so easily. It’s like being in a relationship with a significant other. Your lover may get on your nerves, but if you spent years with them, you won’t break up with them that easily and so you’ll try to make it work out. Obviously, it hasn’t been easy to maintain a relationship with The Walking Dead. The show has killed off so many fan favorites that it’s getting harder to cling on to anything worth investing with the show. With this current season, after a jaw dropping season premiere, The Walking Dead has so far failed to deliver a season that matches its impressive opener. All things considered, we’ll still keep watching The Walking Dead no matter how much it sucks.
2. Family Guy
When the show first premiered in 1999, Family Guy was revolutionary. Never was there ever an animated series so daring in its crude, adult-oriented humor to ever hit basic cable. It may be strange to think of Family Guy in such grand superlatives, but think of all the adult cartoons that came after it. Bob’s Burgers, Bojack Horseman, and hell, even Adult Swim as a network owes a debt to the creators of Family Guy. The only problem is that so many adult cartoons followed in the footsteps of Family Guy that Family Guy seems pointless now. As shocking as the show used to be, it looks like a standard kid’s program compared to what came after. It isn’t so much that Family Guy is a bad show—though it can be easily argued to be a bad show—but it’s just an irrelevant one. No reason to keep it on airwaves when there are so many better, fresher alternatives out there. Many of us still tune into it from time to time out of some sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia goes a long way as the show has maintained strong ratings for the past 15 seasons with no signs of cancellation anytime soon.
1. Mr. Robot
Don’t get us wrong. We all loved Mr. Robot when it first hit the airwaves. Even as a modernized ripoff of Fight Club, the first season of Mr. Robot was some of the best pieces of television we ever got in 2015, perhaps in tv history. The second season, however, is pretty lackluster by comparison. Some may think it’s harsh to say that the second season downright sucked given how difficult it is to for any show to follow up such a masterful freshman season, but watching the second season of Mr. Robot after the first is like a gourmet chef handing you a can of beans right after serving caviar. We all notice this big drop in quality from the first season, but everyone keeps watching because as with many of the shows on this list, fans have gotten in too deep to quit now. Plus, many of us keep watching in hopes that the show will eventually return to its former glory one day. Maybe it will, but for now, after that disappointing second season, it kind of sucks.
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