Netflix might be pivoting more and more into original programming. (In fact, while you were reading that sentence, the streaming platform probably just dropped some big new series that will be the talk of the internet for the next two to three weeks.) It’s home to a vast array of TV shows from other networks as well, both of the great and not-so-great variety.
Netflix isn’t just a place to watch the new season of Orange is the New Black or Stranger Things. It’s also a method to watch old shows that you might have missed or catch up on some current series ahead of a new season. Like anything with a deep library, however, there are more than a few stinkers in Netflix’s digital troves. The service has shows that you can binge in their entirety, but that doesn’t mean you should.
These are the worst of the worst on Netflix. They may not be original programming from the streaming service itself, but they can be watched there. (In other words, Fuller House, while absolutely wretched, won’t be on this list.) If you’re looking for a new show to binge, these are some of the worst choices you could make.
Here are the 17 Absolute Worst Shows On Netflix.
If Dexter had ended around its third or fourth season, it would undoubtedly be one of the best shows on Netflix, and maybe one of the best series ever. But Showtime didn’t know when to quit with their favorite serial killer, so the interesting tale of this anti-hero went on way too long and became a parody of itself.
The later seasons of Dexter are so ridiculous that they completely undermine the greatness that are the first few years. In some ways, the terrible later efforts even take away the show’s strengths. Debra doesn’t put up with Dexter’s anti-social behavior because of their sibling bond. According to the later seasons, she is romantically in love with him. Incest is never the answer, no matter how ideas have been explored.
The original 90120 is perfect example of ’90s camp and nostalgia. It’s an unapologetic soap opera, but it’s also self-aware, fun, and it was certainly a risky show for its era. The remake/sequel which ran from 2008 to 2013 was exactly none of those things.
There are startlingly few original characters in the new 90120. Mostly, the series opted to simply recreate the old characters with slightly different names and backgrounds. The result is an uninspired mismatch of new and old. 90120 became a cultural touchstone of the ’90s because of the archetypes that were on display and how fresh everything felt. The second 90120 is just a pale imitation.
That said, the remake of 90120 isn’t an outright dumpster fire. It was successful enough to even spawn a remake of Melrose Place. The remake is just merely passable. With hundreds of shows to watch on Netflix, a passable second attempt of a much more influential show simply isn’t worth it.
Glee is an easy punching bag to take aim at, with countless jokes having been made at its expense. There is a reason for the mocking. Outside of a fun but uneven first season, Ryan Murphy’s high school musical series is a mess. From season 2 onward, Glee wanted to be a live-action cartoon and a show that tackled incredibly hot-button issues like transgender rights, homosexuality, and domestic abuse.
This would’ve been fine, if Glee had approached any of these topics with a sense of tact. Unfortunately, this series doesn’t know the meaning of the word “tact.” Glee is an indulgence of showrunner Ryan Murphy’s most garish instincts. The show frequently switches directly from long abusive tirades courtesy of Jane Lynch’s character to lectures about the dangers of bullying.
The worst thing about Glee is what supposedly made it unique. While there are some genuinely great singers on the show’s cast, every performance is heavily altered in post-production, having been autotuned beyond recognition. Every song from Glee sounds like a Kidz Bop album from the ninth circle of Hell.
14. The Cleveland Show
Humor is subjective, and that is especially true with Seth MacFarlane’s animated comedies. While some love the edgy humor of Family Guy and American Dad, others find it offputting and uninspired. At least Family Guy and American Dad have a little bit of effort put into them, though. MacFarlane’s short-lived The Cleveland Show has almost no love or care in its DNA.
A Family Guy spin-off, The Cleveland Show is just Family Guy with a black family instead of a white one. Every role in the Griffin family is filled in a one-to-one transition with Cleveland’s brood. Yet the title character, it must be said, is not Peter Griffin.
Peter might not be everyone’s cup of comedy tea, but he has a personality. Cleveland is just a bland guy with a slightly funny voice. He’s not a basis for any sitcom, least of all an animated one, where the characters tend (and need to be) much bigger.
Star-Crossed sounds like a joke, but it was a real television show, created by real human beings that can be binged on Netflix, a real streaming platform. As the name would suggest, Star-Crossed aims to be a modern, and science-fiction inspired, Romeo and Juliet. A human girl falls in love with a boy from a maligned and abused alien people. (Actual aliens mind you, not just a group of immigrants from across the border.)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the “aliens” in Star-Crossed are just humans, however, because the only thing that marks them as “other” are tattoo-like markings on their face. Matt Lanter plays the alien Romeo to Aimee Teegarden’s Juliet, and when someone as All-American hot as Matt Lanter is playing the disgusting alien, you know there’s been a mistake.
Revolution was producer Eric Kripke’s return to TV following his breakout creation Supernatural, and before Timeless. While Kripke’s fans gave the show a second season and a fervent hope that it could get better, nothing ever came of the wishes or hopes.
Revolution has an intriguing premise. It exists in a world that suddenly lost all technology, and there are glimmers where the show almost capitalizes on its strong core ideas. It’s never more than glimmer. Revolution is more a cheesy soap opera than an interesting character-based science fiction epic.
Revolution had one of the better casts in recent network TV history, boasting the likes of Billy Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Giancarlo Esposito. Esposito was even hot off his terrific run as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad. While the ensemble is nothing to scoff at, the plot supporting them is just bland and uninspired. Revolution’s not terrible, it’s just boring, which may be an even worse sin.
11. Star Trek: Enterprise
The battle between Star Wars and Star Trek for science fiction supremacy will likely wage on for decades. While the Star Wars prequels are (rightly) maligned, Star Trek has an origin story nearly as bad in the form of Enterprise. Though Enterprise originally aired in the early 2000s, it takes place before the original Star Trek from the 1960s. Enterprise is pretty much everything wrong with a prequel. It’s lazy, unoriginal, and lacks what made the first outing great to begin with.
Enterprise is bereft of the magic and excitement of not only the original series, but of Star Trek itself. There is nothing clever or intriguing about this venture into the final frontier – it merely exists. Enterprise hints at or tells important stories to the lore of the universe, like the founding of the Federation and the Romulan War, but it never really excites.
Worst of all, the series leaves a ton of plot threads hanging with a dismal series finale. Enterprise was cancelled before its time, so it’s hard to be too harsh, but it still wasted the time it did have moping around with side stories and not getting to what the fans wanted to see.
10. Last Man Standing
Last Man Standing has gotten a lot of flak for being “too political.” Tim Allen is a hardcore conservative, and his own political views have undeniably seeped into his Last Man Standing character. But the problem with Last Man Standing isn’t that Tim Allen is a grumpy conservative – it’s that he’s a grumpy and unfunny conservative.
Last Man Standing is less a sitcom and more just an excuse for Tim Allen to be the mouthpiece of every frustrated middle-aged white man. He’s just one guy surrounded by women and that’s supposed to be hilarious. It’s not.
In its six seasons, Last Man Standing tried to be All in the Family for a new generation but failed. All in the Family has Archie Bunker spouting off conservative and incredibly offensive views, but the show is structured around real laughs. Last Man Standing treats different viewpoints as jokes and leaves it there, like some boring political pie that only a very specific audience wants to eat.
9. The Night Shift
The best thing about The Night Shift is its extraordinarily ridiculous season 1 key art that makes it look the craziest, most pulse-pounding medical show in TV history. Unfortunately, the show itself isn’t nearly as thrilling as the promotional material would suggest. Not once during the show, for instance, does any doctor ride a motorcycle inside a hospital. (Yeah, we were disappointed too.)
Instead of The Night Shift being about a maverick doctor who visits his patients on the back of revving hog, it’s a paint-by-numbers medical procedural. The series desperately wants to be ER, with a refreshingly diverse cast and episodes revolving around one central medical mystery, but it’s not even close. ER had some great characters brought to life by some terrific performances. The Night Shift is filled with glorified extras who wandered off the street and one guy from Lost.
The Night Shift is worth watching if you’ve consumed every episode of Grey’s Anatomy, ER, and the first few seasons of Scrubs, and you still somehow possess a biological need for more dramas set in a hospital. There is literally no other reason to watch it.
Touch is not only mind-numbingly boring, it’s one of those mildly offensive shows that treats autism as something akin to a superpower. Kiefer Sutherland plays a single father to an autistic son, played by future Bruce Wayne David Mazouz.
Mazouz’s character can barely communicate, and he can’t deal with physical touch, but he is deeply fascinated by numbers. His father (Sutherland) is shocked to discover that his son uncovers some special number set, later known in the show as the God Sequence. The numbers essentially dole out superpowers. It’s just as stupid as it sounds.
Part depressing family drama, part supernatural thriller, and 100% soulless, Touch acts as if joylessness is synonymous with high drama. The result is a TV show that is much more of a chore to get through than an emotional (or entertaining) experience.
7. The Following
Kevin Bacon’s big return to TV after becoming a movie star, The Following, had potential in its first season. It’s a cat-and-mouse game between Bacon’s Ryan Hardy and charismatic serial killer, Joe Caroll (played by James Purefoy). The Following started off atmospheric and intriguing, but it quickly devolves into something much less than the sum of its parts. The battle between Ryan and Joe rages on for far too long, and ends up making both characters look like enormous morons. The show also makes the cardinal sin of many horror properties in mistaking gruesomeness for tension. The Following is exploitative and gross, not necessarily shocking or even mildly interesting.
There’s something addicting about a good mystery, but The Following is neither “good” nor a “mystery.” No star power can save a story from going on too long, taking “twists” too far, and being too predictable.
6. Power Rangers: Turbo
With a franchise as wide-spanning and voluminous as Power Rangers, there are bound to be some embarrassments. Power Rangers: Turbo is one such embarrassment. The third follow-up to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Turbo is a very tired and bland iteration of everyone’s favorite super-suited teens.
Turbo was the last season for many of the semi-original crew of Power Rangers, and it feels that way. Turbo is a very lazy attempt to pass the torch to a new generation. It also doesn’t help that this new generation is represented by the 12-year-old new Blue Ranger, who is the poster child for annoying child actor and one of the most hated characters in franchise history.
The biggest problem plaguing Turbo is that the footage of the Rangers comes from Gekisou Sentai Carranger, a Japanese series that was meant to be a parody. The original series was not meant to be taken seriously, but Turbo went for a straight-ahead adaptation, which made everything a tonal mess, even by Power Rangers standards. The storylines with the human Rangers are completely at odds with the in-suit footage lifted from Japan.
5. The Mysteries of Laura
She’s a mom, she’s a cop, and her series is friggin awful. This short-lived NBC procedural worked out its central premise of Debra Messing’s character, the eponymous Laura, juggling duties as a detective and a single mom, but almost nothing else. Mysteries of Laura is not only incredibly predictable, which is the last thing a show with “mysteries” in the title should be, but it’s as cringeworthy as they come.
Mysteries of Laura aims for a balance of comedy and drama, but often veers way into one direction or the other, with highly underwhelming results. Laura is either bickering with her ex-husband (who is also her boss) or that same ex-husband is getting shot and almost killed in a firefight. You’ll want to secure your head with a pillow or two to deal with the tonal whiplash of this misfire.
It’s no wonder that after Mysteries of Laura was cancelled, NBC decided to play to Messing’s strengths and revive Will & Grace. Grace is not only Debra’s best role, it’s the character she’s always been playing in some form, no matter the show.
4. Rules of Engagement
Some of the best comedies in recent years have been of the single camera variety, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with the traditional multi-camera sitcom format. It just happens to breed a lot of lazy comedy – and that’s certainly the case with Rules of Engagement. The show takes all the traditions of classic “hang-out” comedies like Seinfeld or Friends, but none of their charm or cleverness comes along for the ride.
All the characters are deeply unlikable, not to mention unfunny. This is especially true of David Spade’s Russell Dunbar, who is meant to be a charming cad, but ends up being more of disastrous douchebag. (That’s probably all on Spade, if we’re being honest.) It’s hard to make a Kramer or Joey; it’s much easier to make a cheap knock-off like Russell.
A cheap knock-off is the perfect way to describe Rules of Engagement itself. It looks like it could be a fun little romp, but it’s off target just enough that everyone, especially the viewer, feels uncomfortable.
3. The Tomorrow People
Before The CW went all-in with having DC Comics craft almost their entire line-up, the network (and super producer Greg Berlanti) dipped their toes into the superhero waters slightly further with a remake of a British series, The Tomorrow People. Airing after Arrow, The Tomorrow People should’ve been a smash hit. It even had an Amell of its own, with Stephen’s cousin, Robbie, starring in a lead role. But no amount of pretty people and superpowers could save The Tomorrow People from just being a bland excuse for superhero TV.
The Tomorrow People is incredibly derivative. With Berlanti’s other comic book shows, there is an effort to pay tribute to the source material, but still subvert expectations. The series was just like every other paint-by-numbers superhero origin tale – minus the charisma.
Simply put, The Tomorrow People is predictable and stale. There are far better superhero shows to be found and experienced. Several of those shows (oh, hey Arrowverse!) even star the same actors as The Tomorrow People. So there is little to no reason to waste any time on this short-lived and little-loved dud.
Ringer was meant to be Sarah Michelle Gellar’s triumphant return to television after essentially retiring from the medium since her days as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ringer definitely has Sarah Michelle Gellar in its cast, but that’s about all the good that can be said of it.
Ringer is essentially a serious Parent Trap, with SMG playing two radically different twins. Of course, because Ringer is as uninspiring as can be imagined, the actress formerly known as Buffy Summers ends up having to play one twin impersonating another.
Ringer would be fine if the show embraced the goofiness of its subject matterm but it never even attempts to be self-aware. Ringer is deadly serious, and it acts as if it’s some edgy thriller, when it’s all camp, all the time. Sarah Michelle Gellar deserved a better return to the small screen, and you deserve to never experience this bland mess of a TV show.
After watching Zoo, which is not at all recommended, it’s easy to conclude that the whole thing is one practical joke. It’s insane on a level few can approach, and it’s so bad that it’s almost a masterpiece. Make no mistake however, Zoo is objectively the worst show in Netflix’s library, despite how delightfully bonkers it might be at times.
Zoo begins with a series of violent animal attacks across the world and then promptly descends into madness. The events of the series almost defy explanation. Birds organize to drop acid rain on an innocent populace. Animals evolve to such an absurd degree that human become an endangered species. Most insanely, though, Zoo sees its main character slap a general in the face asking him about the whereabouts of a sloth.
Nothing about this show makes sense, and it’s even unclear how the audience is supposed to take everything happening. The events are next-level bonkers, but the tone is one of straight-ahead seriousness. Zoo is The Walking Dead if Rick Grimes was fighting primates who create literal earthquakes. This is not something that should exist or be experienced.
Do you agree? What is the worst show you’ve watched on Netflix? Sound off in the comments!
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