Bad TV is sadly unavoidable. With so much TV out there, there are plenty of great shows to watch but there are even more bad ones. Most TV shows will fail and the majority of the ones that fail will be downright awful. 2016 was no different for television and while the good might outweigh the bad, the bad was certainly still there. Here are some of the worst of the worst when it comes to TV — the seven worst TV shows of 2016.
Frequency isn’t so much awful as it is terribly disappointing. There is plenty of ways Frequency could work but the (other) CW time-travel drama is apparently greatly opposed to them. Frequency has some powerful acting talent behind it but it is a slog to get through because precisely no one is enjoying themselves. Frequency has an unbelievably wild premise — a daughter can communicate in the past with her dead father — and the show treats it in the most clinical and boring way possible. Everyone’s miserable, everything is dark and the whole show is aggressively uninteresting.
6. The X-Files
2016 saw a lot of reboots, revivals and remakes on TV. Some of them were good and reminded fans why they enjoyed the original so much. Some of them were a mistake on almost every level and tried their hardest to sour the memory of the original. One of the first revivals of the year, The X-Files, is an example of the latter. Thanks to the movies, The X-Files never really went away but Sully and Mulder’s return to TV should have been triumphant and instead it was a dud.
There were a couple moments of brilliance. The standalone episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” almost makes the whole debacle worth it. The key word is “almost.” Mostly The X-Files revival was full of convoluted, overly-complicated and very stupid mythology episodes. The strength of the original X-Files was never in the overarching mystery but that’s almost all that the revival focused on and that’s why it failed.
5. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has always been a show of peaks and valleys. In the last half of season 6 and the first half of season 7, The Walking Dead was much more valley than peak. In fact, the metaphorical valleys were so long and so consistent it was basically one bad-quality canyon.
The reason The Walking Dead failed is the same reason seasons 6 and 7 were supposed to be awesome (according to comic fans and the creators): Negan. Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives a great performance as the villain, one that the character doesn’t deserve, but even a great performance couldn’t save The Walking Dead in 2016. Negan is hateable for all the wrong reasons and is more an insufferable plot device than an actual character.
Outside of Negan though, almost nothing happened on The Walking Dead during 2016. Glenn, Abraham (and a few other side characters) died but that’s about it. All the episodes of The Walking Dead dealt with just a few things, teasing the arrival of Negan, Negan giving long speeches and Rick moping about Negan. Hopefully in 2017, The Walking Dead will regroup and things will amp up as the Saviors and Alexandrians go to war, but fans shouldn’t hold their breath.
UnREAL should have been able to ride the wave of its incredibly well-received first season and produce an even better second season. All the ingredients were there as the season started. UnREAL understood that the starring attraction of the show was their leading ladies and they even did something The Bachelor has yet to do and cast a minority as the romantic lead of a reality show, albeit a fake show. As the season progressed, though, UnREAL began to collapse in on itself.
There were plenty of good ideas in UnREAL season 2 like dealing with police brutality, race relations, mental health and the fallout of events from season 1 of the show. If UnREAL had focused on one or two of these ideas, season 2 would have been a success. Instead they focused on them all and added a few more in for good measure till everything became way too confusing. UnREAL even took things to an incredibly dark place in the finale with actual murder. UnREAL started as a parody of the sensational nature of The Bachelor franchise and in season 2 the show became a parody of itself.
Headlined by Shonda Rhimes, ABC has carved out a nice block of its scheduling devoted to fun and addicting nighttime soaps. One of the network’s new additions in 2016, Notorious, desperately wanted to join the likes of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and even How to Get Away with Murder. Notorious has the acting talent of a show you might expect from Shondaland but that’s about it. The main characters are unlikable. The situation is routine and uninteresting. It just makes anyone watching miss Scandal that much more, since the show was filling Scandal‘s Thursday night spot.
It’s rare that HBO produces a total TV dud. It’s even rarer that a show is renewed only for that renewal to be snatched away and the show to get canceled. Vinyl achieved both of those dishonorable distinctions in 2016. There might a good show or at least a good idea for a show somewhere in Vinyl, a show that was supposed to explore the music industry in the 1970s. In reality, though, Vinyl explored the life of its miserable and terribly unlikable main character Richie Finestra, a complete wreck of human being who did nothing to endear himself to the audience or be the slightest bit interesting.
Even so, Finestra was just one small problem with Vinyl. He was surrounded by a cast as noxious as himself. The dialogue characters traded was heavily laced with profanity, which wouldn’t have been a problem if it wasn’t such a transparent attempt to be “edgy.” All in all, Vinyl tried too hard to be different and shocking but it just ended up being childish.
1. Fuller House
Even if you have the most rose-tinted nostalgia glasses for Full House, you have to objectively admit that Netflix’s ’90s sitcom revival is awful. It’s hardly surprising. Full House was no great show itself but at least it was consistent. Full House understood what show it wanted to be and delivered. Fuller House is a mess in almost every way. It’s unclear who exactly is Fuller House‘s intended audience. There is so much focus on the original cast of Full House and so many strange sexual jokes that it seems like it was created for adults. Yet the show is too childish and immature to possibly be considered entertainment for anyone over the age of 7.
Things certainly aren’t helped by the fact that the characters range from annoying stereotypes to sad shells of human beings. Danny Tanner is pushing 60 and yet, in his occasional appearances on the show, acts in a way that rivals the maturity of his grandchildren. The main cast is even worse, as DJ is pretty much an awful mother, the kids are the worst kind of obnoxious child actors and someone still thinks after all these years that Kimmy Gibbler is funny. Netflix is obviously happy with Fuller House‘s performance, as the show keeps getting renewed, but the show needs to stop as soon as possible for quality’s sake. In the words of Joey, the worst character of them all, “Cut it out!”
So what do you think? Are these all bad shows? Do you enjoy any or all of them? Which bad TV shows did we miss? What was the worst show you watched in 2016? Can any of these shows, if they aren’t already canceled, get better in 2017?
(Images courtesy of AMC, ABC, Netflix, HBO, Lifetime, FOX and The CW)