You’ve spilled soup down your Belgravia Tie, and your job interview is in 10 minutes… it's hugely panic-inducing in your head, but to others, it's a people-pleaser. How very dare they! But therein lies the difference between a subjective and an objective standpoint. And long may it continue, if you ask us.
The same difference can be seen of people’s impressions of TV shows and movies. Two people in the audience at a theatre screening of Unforgiven may give vastly idiot-differing opinions. One: “excellent,” the other: “my soul is officially toxified.”
Only in these situations do critics come in useful because they level the haphazard and irrational behavior of us, the general public. Rotten Tomatoes is a critic review website that does exactly that. It scores reviews of productions in percentages: 0-59 % being “Rotten,” 60-100 % “Fresh,” and 75%+ “Certified Fresh.”
But what sets RT apart from the dozens of other websites critiquing entertainment output? Well, RT avoids being biased by a clever, little-known system called unbiased reporting. The staff at Rotten Tomatoes maintains fairness by first collecting lots of online reviews from certified members of writing guilds or proper film critic associations. Those classified as "Top Critics" for RT are usually proper newspaper journalists.
To be accepted as a critic on their website, the original reviews that are read by the RT bods must have acquired a specific number of "likes" from users. The bods can thereby verify their popularity and determine for each review whether it's to be positive or negative, entering the result on the site.
So, now that you know how it’s done, here are 15 of the website’s worst TV shows ever made. It won’t be pretty. But it will be fun!
15 2011 - I Hate My Teenage Daughter 7%
Starring Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl), Kevin Rahm (Mad Men), and Chad Coleman (The Walking Dead), this sitcom was fated from the start in the USA, but by a strange quirk of fate seemed more popular in other parts of the world. The series aired 7 of its 13 episodes before Fox closed it down. According to US audiences, the show was properly devoid of humor, leaving the network with only one option: to put it out of its misery.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter follows two mothers who fear that their teenage daughters are growing into the sort of girls who bullied them when they were at school. It’s an interesting premise, but it didn’t seem to tick the right boxes with everyone -- maybe because it “rests something very raw, potentially unflattering, and yet sharply observant about today’s women and their relationships with their adolescent daughters” (Washignton Post, 2011). Just a thought.
14 2009 - Hank 8%
With an 8% RT score, Hank is another blooper from another spot of bother. It tells of a failed businessman who has to adjust to being a better husband and father. Now, that sounds to us about as far removed from comedy as you can get, and we’re not alone. The show ran for just five episodes before being unceremoniously binned along with the other shows we’ve already told you about. And that’s despite the input of the glorious Kelsey Grammer, the fantastic David Koechner, and the great Melinda McGraw.
Created by Tucker Cawley, Hank ran for an astonishing three months and was produced by Good Humor Television and Warner Bros. Television. The quality of that sort of backing begs the question of why it was slated, adequately answered by The New York Post’s comments in 2009: "Hank is one of the worst new (or old) comedies of this or many other seasons.” A man and his family lose everything. Yeh, funny.
13 2014 - Friends With Better Lives 10%
There was a good cast collected for Friends With Better Lives. It included James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek and Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23), Majandra Delfino (Roswell), Zoe Lister-Jones (Life in Pieces), Brooklyn Decker (Battleship and What To Expect When You’re Expecting), and Kevin Connolly (Entourage). Yet, despite the efforts of these lads and lassies, the show still got panned.
RT gave the show 10%, which is better than some but a lot worse than most. Why? Probably because of the premise, which should but doesn’t relate to any human on Earth: six people all think their friends have better lives. Yes, they may, but then again, they may not. So, we ask, where's the comedy? We want comedy! The hit show Friends glanced on the unfairness of existence but did so in the context of the group getting on with their lives despite everything. Friends With Better Lives seemed to be reinventing the wheel.
12 2012 - Rob 11%
Co-created by and starring Rob Schneider, Rob premiered on CBS in January 2012 and ended just two months later. Quel dommage! The actor known for previous hits such as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, The Benchwarmers, and Grown Ups must've written this unfunny sitcom under the influence. The show was slated by critics and audiences for its lack of all things energetic and accrued no more than an 11% rating on RT.
Rob told the story of a professional with OCD marrying into a Mexican-American family and his efforts to get used to their culture. The Daily Beast in 2012 berated the show for offering “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.” Generally speaking, it was the show’s stereotyping of Mexicans, the actors’ lackluster performances, and poor writing that ended this little piece of crazy.
11 2016 - Hunters 0%
Based on Whitley Strieber’s novel Alien Hunter, SyFy’s big failure was Hunters. This sci-fi drama starring Nathan Phillips, Britne Oldford, and Mark Coles Smith made terrible inhuman sounds when it was first aired in 2016. Bosses at SyFy quickly realized that there were more people orbiting Earth than watching the show. It was reasonable and well delivered, but these virtues aren’t always guarantees against rot-stopping.
All 13 episodes of the original script were shown, but most ended up in the midnight slot, when only physicians working shifts and mommies with small kids were awake. And since the story followed a weird Exo-Terrorism Unit (exactly like MiB, only darker and more complicated), its target audience didn’t include either of those demographics. It’s one of the few to have only been scored, err, 0% by RT’s team.
10 2014 - Saint George 0%
American Comedian George Lopez is well known for stand-up acts that delve into dark observational farce. And after his self-produced show Saint George was axed in 2014, most Americans felt that maybe he should've stayed doing what he knew best. Lopez was earlier coerced by Sandra Bullock to star in a TV sitcom called George Lopez which ran for five years from 2002. It was a flagship comfort blanket for all those who felt Hispanics were underrepresented in TV, and it wasn’t half bad.
However, it was quite apparent soon after Lopez’s own Saint George aired in 2014 that something was missing -- namely, everything. It spectacularly failed to reach the necessary ratings and, as a result, was canceled after just one season. He currently stars in Lopez, a sitcom which is semi-autobiographical, and we're pleased to report, it's doing considerably better (Lopez got renewed for a second season which aired in 2017).
9 2016 - Damien 11%
Based on the horror franchise The Omen, Damien tells the story of a grown-up Damien who, having forgotten what a rotter he was as a kid, now faces reality and must come to terms with being the delinquent son of the Anti-Christ. The series was a relatively non-annoying attempt to drum up renewed interest for films that, while mostly forgotten about, were mighty gravy noodles in their day.
However, Rotten Tomatoes considered it lacking: "Damien is a horror series in need of some horror, not to mention better writing and more interesting characters” (which just about covers everything). Admittedly, if you were looking for a program that aids a lovely drift-off to z-land, you could do worse than watch Bradley James (Merlin, Homeland, iZombie) attempt to look scary. He’s no match for a young Harvey Spencer Stephens, though. Who is?
8 2015 - Dr. Ken 7%
Take Ken Jeong: he’s not bitter even though his days on the set of Dr. Ken were lemon-difficult. The sitcom based on Jeong’s real-life experiences as a physician ran for two seasons but only with a serious level of critical life-support. After hits such as Scrubs, we think that if someone intends to write a medical sitcom, they need some mighty fine ingredients… humor, for one, of which Dr. Ken was sorely lacking.
RT rated Dr. Jeong’s (Community TV, The Hangover) very own creation just a poultry 7% and gave a consensus which read: "Somebody, please get Dr. Ken a doctor; seeking any signs of life.” But it wasn’t all bad. Many opined that despite the show’s obvious lack of “com,” its “sit” was properly accurate. No matter. If you’re looking for some escapism, you’d better go and order a Deliveroo and eat it in the bath or watch Bob’s Burgers.
7 2011 - Charlie’s Angels 0%
Despite its predecessor being the ultra-populaire 1976 Charlie’s Angels, ABC’s 2011 remake was as popular as a bad night’s sleep. While some considered the show to be fatally flawed because of “a confusing plot and useless action scenes” (CBS, 2011), others cited more fundamental shintos. Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe said of the series: "The underwhelming cast brings nothing to the boilerplate action. Kelly is miscast as a biker chick, and making Bosley a hunk with computer skills fails to add life."
So… plot, action scenes, characters, miss-casting all kaput, but at least the writing was OK. No, wait! Not according to Hitfix.com's Alan Sepinwall who added his voice to the dissent and said the show was “a collection of terrible performances and bad writing that undercut any attempt to give the Angels some dramatic heft” (Hitfix.com, 2012). Thirteen episodes were ordered, but after the fourth, the show was canceled and the remaining episodes were burned from existence (no, seriously, burned).
6 2013 - Dads 0%
Despite being written by the helluva creative team behind Ted and A Million Ways To Die In The West (and despite being signed by Fox in good faith), viewers weren't taken with Dads, and nor were critics. The cast included Seth Green, Giovanni Ribisi, and Brenda Song, and the writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild were hailed for their new creation, but the sitcom was panned. On the plus side, the failure of Dads was the sit-bolt-upright moment the pair -- and joint creator Seth MacFarlane -- needed.
Dads tells the story of two successful video game developers who had to share their lives with their fathers… it was a simple premise but one that squeezes from our lips the phrase “so what?” And that reaction, my friends, is the death knell for any creative piece. RT commented on the show being “a near-total disaster.” What more needs to be said?
5 2015 - Rosewood 9%
Rosewood trudged on through TV quicksand for two seasons before finally sinking from view. That journey may have been extended thanks to an ultra-generous producer at Fox who realized principle actor Morris Chestnut could do with a break. But there’s only so far we can travel. Essentially a Quincy-esque take on a Miami pathologist, Rosewood follows the adventures of Beaumont Rosewood, Jr.
Despite the additional and worthy input of Lorraine Toussaint (Vee from Orange Is The New Black and the voice of Nichelle in Pixar’s upcoming original film Coco), critics and the audience hated this program. They despised it. They loathed it as they would a rogue chin hair. With generally unfavorable reviews, Rosewood was scheduled for post-mortem once and for all in the spring of 2017. Now, pass the mini-saw and forceps, and sit tight, all those in the viewing gallery…
4 2017 - The Kennedys: After Camelot 0%
This was, in itself, an act of desperation. Seeing as we've been fascinated by the Kennedys for so many years, the show creators thought to bleed the storylines for everything they were worth. Unfortunately, the storylines had already been bled dry, so, on second thought, the show creators thought not to bother. Too late! Reelz had a shot, aimed high, and missed spectacularly. It's probably best for all those concerned that we just pretend the two sorry episodes of After Camelot didn’t happen.
After Camelot was meant to be a follow-up to The Kennedys. But you would've thought after that derailment that producers would've slammed their fists on the boardroom table and said, “Enough of this monkey business!” Nope. Despite the History Channel dumping The Kennedys because of low ratings, someone stood up and got counted. According to Daniel Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter) The Kennedys: After Camelot was a “four-hour mess lacking in dramatic structure or emotional and thematic beats.” Ouch.
3 2011 - Allen Gregory 9%
Fox’s adult animation Allen Gregory was hailed by the network as the next big super-charged cartoon. Created by Jonah Hill, Andrew Mogel, and Jarrad Paul, it had some promise… these writers had already tasted success. But the show aired for a miserly three months between October and December 2011 and was canceled a month later. The story followed a precocious 7-year-old who was raised by two dads, both of whom were experiencing difficulties in their careers and with money (doesn’t everyone?).
Despite the supporting talents of people like Lisa Kudrow and Jeff Goldblum, the show never got off the ground or out of the ground. Chris Swanson of WhatCulture rated the pilot episode potato quality, saying, "There is nothing charming, witty or interesting about this show. It’s just one horribly stupid, cringe-inducing moment after another with characters who are truly loathsome and unpleasant” (Whatculture.com, 2011).
2 2013 - We Are Men 4%
When we consider that the creator of We Are Men, Rob Greenberg, was involved in scripting such giants as Meet Dave, Spellbound, Bad Haircut, and Frasier, we're even more intrigued about what state his mind was in when he came up with this idea. We Are Men aired on CBS in 2013 and follows the story of a man who's jilted at the altar by his bride, only to forge friendships with other divorced men.
RT gave the show 4%, which is generous, according to some who deemed it “the male version of Sex and the City, with more shirtless scenes (courtesy of Jerry O'Connell) and way less wit" (Metacritic., 2016). The criticism about the character types, the writing, the storylines, and the humor meant that poor old Greenberg’s show lasted – let’s count them – one, two… yes, two episodes, before being taken off the air and never spoken about again.
1 2012 - Work It 5%
Another two-episode wonder was Work It, which ran on ABC from January 3 to January 10, 2012. Hormones abound in this show, in which two guys feel the need to dress up like women to find employment in St Louis. Now, you may think we’re splitting hairs here, but isn’t that reverse sexism in action? Let’s ask the groups that took exception to the show for their input, namely, the Transgender Law Center, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center's Transgender Economic Empowerment Program, and the Human Rights Campaign.
The audience of the first episode numbered around 6 million, which then quickly dropped 1 million by the second episode. Judging by that trend, it would've only taken another 5 weeks for the program to be watched by one dog sitting in front of a fire in Ohio. Ah, it’s a shame. It held promise… Ben Koldyke played Lee Standish, and Amaury Nolasco played Angel Ortiz, but even these names weren’t big enough to tie a tourniquet around the cut vein.
Sources: screenrant.com, en.wikipedia.org