We’ve made our list, checked it twice… and, yep, it’ll be nothing but coal for these bad shows.
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Earlier this week, we kicked off our Year in Review by singing the praises of 2023’s very best series. But there are 10 shows that decidedly did not make the nice list this time around, and those are our picks for the worst shows of the year.
Several of the duds below were new to the TV landscape this year, dashing our high hopes with disappointing debuts (like in the case of Max’s Velma or Prime Video’s Citadel). But we’ve also got several returning veterans on our list, including tedious final runs for The CW’s The Flash and AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead.
Which network delivered this year’s biggest creative misfire, though? Scroll down to see which series claimed the top — or is it bottom? — spot on our list, then hit the comments with your thoughts.
Still to come in TVLine’s Year in Review: Biggest Plot Twists, Sexiest Scenes, Character Deaths That Nearly Killed Us, Shocking Cast Exits, Unjust Cancellations and much, much more!
10. The Crowded Room (Apple TV+)
The 10-episode limited series starring Spider-Man phenom Tom Holland, The Dropout‘s Amanda Seyfried and Shameless vet Emmy Rossum will likely go down as one of Apple TV+’s most high-profile misfires, and with good reason: The gratingly overlong drama — inspired by Daniel Keyes’ 1981 non-fiction tome The Minds of Billy Milligan — was a meandering, predictable endurance test that squandered the considerable talents of its three stars.
9. Velma (Max)
On paper, Max’s Scooby-Doo original was everything we could want from an adult animated series: Familiar IP with a modern twist, shepherded by Mindy Kaling? Jinkies, sign us up! And yet, even with comedy veterans on the creative team and an all-star cast voicing the Mystery Inc. gang, Velma hardly made us laugh at all upon debuting in January. What we hoped would be clever, subversive humor was instead disappointingly cynical and endlessly self-referential, stamping out any endearing qualities in Velma and her ever-sarcastic peers.
8. Citadel (Prime Video)
Given the talent involved (Richard Madden! Stanley Tucci!), the creatives (Marvel vets the Russo Brothers as EPs!) and the reported budget (a whopping $300 million!), we had high hopes for Prime Video’s ambitious international spy drama. Unfortunately, what we got was a surprisingly by-the-numbers series that showed every sign of its reported behind-the-scenes creative differences. Like many TVLine readers, we were often left wondering where the money went and were disappointed by the complete lack of chemistry between leads Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Madden.
7. The Flash (The CW)
It pains us to include the longest-running Arrowverse series’ farewell run, but… we reckon that if you ask most anyone involved, they’d be first to admit (and many have) that Season 8 used up the last of the good stuff, assumed as it once was to be the final season. Season 9, as a result, could only underwhelm week after week, with underbaked takes on Red Death and Eddie Thawne’s resurrection, a barely mourned Frost, a squandered Supergirl crossover and a pointless bottle episode. Even Oliver Queen’s improbable return and Nora’s lonnnnng-awaited birth could not liven up this sloth-like sendoff.
6. Big Brother (CBS)
In the end, Luke Valentine’s appallingly casual use of the N-word was a harbinger of the disappointing Big Brother season to come. With its milestone 25th cycle, the CBS competition show had so much potential, ultimately squandered week after week by twists that went nowhere, evictions that were reversed, and an entire seven-day stretch where literally nothing happened, save for Cameron and Jared roaming the house in monochromatic zombie outfits. Somehow, even the presence of Survivor legend Cirie Fields couldn’t save this interminable season, which stretched on for a record 100 days and limped its way to an anticlimactic finish.
5. Alert: Missing Persons Unit (Fox)
This midseason procedural was alllll over the map, tonally — oh-so-grave and veddy serious one minute, then joke-jokey, quip-quippy! the next. The lead investigator referred to the missing as “babies” to be found, even when they were grown-ass adults. You had random jokes about Scott Caan’s hairline. Day trips from Philadelphia to Las Vegas and back. No one listened to the daughter when she insisted her own brother was (clearly) a fake. Oh, and soooo much egg rubbing!
4. FUBAR (Netflix)
The obscene acronym in the title of this very loud and very dumb Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle was a pretty apt description of the writing, too, it turns out. A pale imitation of Arnie’s glory days as an action hero, the Netflix series bombarded us with cartoonish violence and groan-worthy one-liners to the point of exhaustion. Even those of us primed for a bit of old-school Dad Movie fun were disappointed by the utter laziness on display here, shamelessly borrowing the best bits from Arnold’s old movies and somehow making them worse in the process. It’s getting a Season 2… but we won’t be back.
3. Secret Invasion (Disney+)
We’re already on record detailing exactly why and how this Marvel series made us super-mad. (R.I.P., [Spoiler] and [Spoiler], to cite but two big reasons.) But what’s even more frustrating about what Secret Invasion did to, and with, certain characters is the fact that, upon seeing The Marvels ignore it all (!), we realize that this six-episode series was five hours of our life wasted. You are literally the better for not having bothered with it.
2. Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
As the first Walking Dead spinoff lurched toward its grave, you’d have been hard-pressed to say that it in any way resembled the promising drama that debuted in 2015. Characters changed motivations so often that viewers considered their deaths mercy killings. Plot twists got so silly that a pair of enemies escaping from quicksand while zip-tied together seemed comparably plausible. Catchphrases were repeated with such regularity that if we’d drunk every time they were uttered, we’d have all croaked of alcohol poisoning. Ultimately, the show became so laughably bad, more than 40% of TVLine readers gave the series finale a grade of “F.”
1. The Idol (HBO)
Was it really that bad? Well, having seen every last excruciating minute of HBO’s aggressively ugly showbiz drama, we can say with authority: Yes, actually, it was. Sam Levinson seemed to think his takedown of the music industry was revolutionary, but it was riddled with clichés, and even the small bits that worked were drowned out by incredibly unsexy sex scenes and unintentionally funny dialogue. The real lowlight, though, was The Weeknd’s hopelessly wooden performance as sinister club promoter Tedros, a turn so completely devoid of charisma that it might be the single worst TV performance of the past decade. So in that way, The Idol was revolutionary after all.
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