RANKED! Our 20 Least Favorite TV Shows of the Last 20 Years
A good TV show is like a satisfying meal. While all the other shows might not be bad, per se, some of them just aren’t to our liking and leave a sour aftertaste and an overall feeling of discomfort after just one episode. The last 20 years of television have been one ambivalent ride; there are some shows that have had a great effect on the format and others that we could just as easily forget. From borderline guilty pleasures to downright unsavory, here are some of our least favorite TV shows.
Cover Photo: American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
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20. 'Iron Fist' (2017–2018)
These days, it seems like everything Marvel creates is magical…this is most certainly not the case with Netflix’s Iron Fist. While Marvel’s small-screen universe had some impressive entries with shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Iron Fist never quite hit the mark. That’s an understatement; it missed the mark by a good 10 feet, which is pretty unfortunate for a martial artist.
19. 'True Detective' Season 2 (2015)
It’s hard to find any television show that holds a torch to True Detective’s premiere season; Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey were in top form. The first season’s badassery only made the second season’s lack thereof even more disappointing.
18. 'Duck Dynasty' (2012-2017)
Let’s just address the fact that reality television isn’t all bad; however, some reality shows embrace the cheese in a way that other genres of television cannot. Duck Dynasty is the first example of this on our list. It's entertaining fluff which lacks substance. Sorry, Si. Keep drinking that iced tea worry-free.
17. 'The Pickup Artist' (2007-2008)
If you grew up idolizing television characters like Sam Malone, Barney Stinson, or Hank Moody, then maybe VH1’s reality show, The Pickup Artist tickled your fancy. The premise was self-explanatory: a rock 'n' roll looking Mad Hatter called Mystery takes a bunch of geeks under his wing in the hopes of making them into Don Juans. He basically became their Jesus. Unfortunately, while Jesus preached love and acceptance, Mystery preached eyeliner and one-night stands (something we doubt 40-year-old virgins are truly looking for).
16. 'Taken' (2017–2018)
What do you do when an acceptably entertaining movie becomes a mildly entertaining film franchise? Well, you make it into a television show of course. This so-called origin story (somehow set in modern day) about how Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson’s character from the films) acquired his “particular set of skills” really didn’t offer viewers anything new. Clive Standen (young Bryan Mills) should stick to ruling Normandy.
15. 'The Purge' (2018-?)
Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for anarchy: running with scissors, criminal activity, the whole nine. Are The Purge films really that good? Maybe the films have been successful based on their premise alone: once a year all crime is legal for a period of 12 hours; every once and awhile people just need to unleash the Kraken. Cleanses are good, right? There’s nothing refreshing about this show.
14. 'Ghost Whisperer' (2005-2010)
C’mon Hollywood, surely you could’ve given Jennifer Love Hewitt something better to do than this? In a show that felt forced, melodramatic, and nonsensical, the I Know What You Did Last Summer alum starred as the “ghost whisperer” or Haley Joel Osment in heels.
13. 'Knight Rider' (2008–2009)
Attempting to recast David Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight is like trying to do the same with Harrison Ford’s Han Solo…oh wait, they did that, too. This series ran out of gas quicker than a supercharger in the Sahara desert, piling on the cheese two decades too late.
12. 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!' (2002-?)
Believe it or not, this reality show was, and still is, one of the most-watched programs in the U.K. It’s not hard to understand the appeal of seeing a bunch of celebrities attempting to cope with the wilderness (and a lack of comfort). “Oh look, those fuckers are just like us.” Ultimately, it’s just fake and ridiculous; however, it’s still good for a laugh (as are all the shows on this list).
11. 'Inhumans' TV Mini-Series (2017)
A lot of hype was bestowed upon Marvel's Inhumans before its initial release. Besides the fact that it was Marvel, the series was given an extensively promoted IMAX debut. Over the course of its press tour, many fans made fun of the show's cosplay-looking costumes and weak trailers. The series itself sported less than impressive visuals and laughable characters upon release.
10. 'Dr. Ken' (2015-2017)
We all remember where we were when we first witnessed a naked Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) jump out of the trunk of a 1965 Mercedes 220SE. Some of us were manically cackling in the theater while others sat shocked on our couches at home; regardless, the role of Mr. Chow rose Ken Jeong’s fame to intergalactic heights. People wanted to know more about the unconventionally hysterical Detroit native (of South Korean lineage). Turns out, Ken Jeong used to be Dr. Jeong, a series that writes itself. It didn’t pan out.
9. 'Hannah Montana' (2006–2011)
The Disney Channel is an enigma. Over the course of the last two decades, it has turned handfuls upon handfuls of children into international superstars: Selena Gomez, Zendaya, the Jonas brothers, Bella Thorne, Zac Efron, the Sprouses and of course Miley Cyrus. The puzzling thing is, none of their mothership shows were really any good. Happy and sing-songy, sure, but substantial? Scratch that. It’s a brilliant platform that produces an assembly line worth of talent that can age along with their audience (the Harry Potter approach). Long live the Disney Channel.
8. 'Cavemen' (2007)
Those Geico commercials were brilliant. That doesn’t mean they’d make a good television show. The Geico gecko and these primitive men are better left making brief appearances in between our regularly scheduled programming.
7. 'XFL' (2001)
Homer Simpson deserves no grief here. Everyone loved the video game series NFL Blitz; XFL owner Vince McMahon aimed to capitalize on everyone’s impatience with the NFL’s influx of rules. His league was meant to be as chaotic, brutal, and fun as button smashing. Unfortunately, no one scored touchdowns while on fire and the league burnt to the ground relatively quick due to a lot of poor planning.
6. 'The Real Housewives of...' (2006-?)
“Real” is a very ironic word to use when describing these affluent women. The first iteration of this reality franchise was The Real Housewives of Orange County. After that, several versions of the show were conceived around the world, including Athens, Toronto, Johannesburg, Hungary, and Beverly Hills. While these shows remain a guilty pleasure for droves of people, our time could be better spent elsewhere.
5. 'I Wanna Marry Harry' (2014)
This reality television show is basically The Bachelor with a demented twist: 12 American women are led to believe they are competing for the affections of Prince Harry. Yeah, that Prince Harry. In reality (pun intended), the producers just took some Harry look-alike off the street and gave him in a royal makeover.
4. 'Jersey Shore' (2009–2012)
Ardent guidos around the world just threw their phones and drop-kicked their computer screens upon seeing this one. Jersey Shore had its moments: “Cabs are here,” T-shirt time, gym, tan and laundry. The show is definitely a nostalgia trip for a lot of people and rightfully so; these guys lived one hell of a lifestyle. Although, it's all basically a poorly edited, silly, loud and gigantic waste of time.
3. 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' (2010)
As unnecessary as "hallelujahs" at an endorsement rally.
2. 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' (2012–2017)
If Hannah Montana served as the catalyst that made Miley Cyrus the superstar that she is, what does that say for Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson's future? Not exactly a Disney Channel show, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo has been deemed everything from exploitative to deplorable by critics. Conversely, more people tuned into this show than they did the 2012 Republican National Convention. Do what you will with that information.
1. 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' (2007–?)
Keeping Up With the Kardashians is like a slinky rolling down a set of stairs. Whoever put that slinky on the initial step and flicked it forward didn't mean to inconvenience anyone , they were just bored; however, now, it's on a roll and getting in everyone's way. There are people who need to get upstairs and downstairs—people who deserve to get where they are going. Some of these people stop and admire it for awhile and others are frustrated by it. The good news is: you can just take a deep breath and walk around it. It's just a gimmick. There's no need to give it unwarranted attention.