It was a singular year for TV. The coronavirus pandemic made escapism and entertainment more crucial than ever in 2020, and many shows rose to the occasion. Unfortunately, some shows missed the mark.
Here are the worst offenders.
Somehow this poorly written, joyless, paper-thin sitcom lasted for two seasons until ABC finally kicked it to the curb. Dumb and dumber. ‘Nuf said. — MS
Just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good. While it’s true that everyone was initially talking about the sordid docuseries following former zoo operator and convicted felon Joe Exotic, it’s telling that the buzz has died down just a few months later. After its initial shock value of mullets, murder plots, polyamory and severed limbs wears off, “Tiger King” is an empty story about unpleasant people who don’t deserve this level of attention. Beyond its surface, it isn’t even a well-made series — it’s got a disorganized, haphazard presentation. — LS
Ryan Murphy’s origin story about evil “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson), for all its typical candy-colored cinematic flourishes and eye-catching costumes, was annoyingly over the top and violent — with a nonsensical storyline wrapped in a cartoonish cocoon and too much sexual content. I couldn’t get past four episodes — just didn’t care. — MS
This sci-fi-ish series about the search for a comic book with hidden meaning was canceled after one season: not only did it kill off a main character in Episode 2, but its plotline meandered into labyrinthian territory — taking its fine cast down the rabbit hole. — MS
The ill-fated mobile app had its share of nonsensical shows during its short life (from April to December) — but none more than “Dismantled.” Hosted by Titus Burgess, the concept of this cooking series is that chefs are blindfolded, shot in the face with food, and must try to guess and re-create the dish splattered all over them. It sounds like a joke — if only it was. — LS
Objectively, there was nothing wrong with this show about friends staying in touch via video chat during the COVID-19 pandemic. The acting was fine, and the plot wasn’t far-fetched or unrelatable. But watching people navigate a scenario that audiences are still in the thick of is the definition of “too soon.” It managed to be simultaneously boring and depressing — a reflection of an ongoing slog that nobody wants to be in. NBC axed it after a few episodes; good riddance. — LS
A single mom (Pauley Perrette) takes in her estranged sister and her family after they fall into financial trouble. There was nothing original or compelling about this sitcom — just tired jokes and cliches. And just like “Ted Lasso” came out at the right time, this show came out at the wrong time, when millions of Americans lost their jobs in the pandemic. Who wants to watch money struggles on TV? Nobody, causing CBS to pull the plug after one season. — LS
It was like a car crash you couldn’t look away from. The reality series — hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, in the ultimate “I guess nobody better was available” — saw couples get engaged sight unseen after spending a few days talking to each other through a wall. They then proceeded to meet in person and rush into preparations for a wedding. The show was packed with as many cringe-worthy moments as you’d expect, and it’s no wonder that it hardly worked, with most of the couples crashing and burning. — LS