Netflix churns out original movies and shows a mile a minute, and while many of them are great, a fair amount are awful.
It’s harder for Netflix to bury its regrettable original shows than it is for traditional broadcast and cable networks. When Netflix finds itself with a lemon on its hands, there’s usually minimal PR for it, hoping that it won’t attract notice from audiences. It likely isn’t on the homepage.
Although Netflix can try to downplay a series if it’s terrible or was swiftly cancelled, it can’t truly make shows disappear. They stay on Netflix forever, reminding the company and its subscribers of its failure. And since new seasons of most Netflix original shows come out all at once, the company doesn’t have the opportunity to axe shows mid-season if they prove disastrous.
Perhaps Netflix doesn’t take failed shows out of their library because someone might still be watching them. But that also means a record of its failure will always be there for you to run into while browsing.
It’s much easier to bury TV mistakes on broadcast and cable: if a show is canceled after the first season, it’s unlikely that it will make it to DVD unless the show was perceived to be wrongly canceled and amassed a cult following that would faithfully buy the first season.
Let’s examine the skeletons in Netflix’s closet with the most unmemorable, truly bad series the streaming giant has churned out. Here are 15 Terrible TV Shows Netflix Wants You To Forget.
15. Pacific Heat
Pacific Heat was slammed by critics as an unfunny Archer ripoff.
The disappointing Pacific Heat is an animated adult comedy about spies, making it suspiciously similar to the concept of the beloved Archer. The animation style looks like it’s been copied from Archer, too.
The Australian import earned a very low Rotten Tomatoes score of 17%. It stars literally no one of note, and even the animation looks low-quality.
The show, which originally premiered on Australia’s The Comedy Channel, hasn’t been canceled yet for some reason. Perhaps the success of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman, another animated adult comedy, prompted Netflix to buy the rights to premiere Pacific Heat in America, but it’s safe to say it was a mistake.
In Gypsy, Naomi Watts plays a sexy therapist who is obsessed with her patients. Jean Holloway, PhD, uses the alias Diane Hart to get close to the people who are close to her patients. Needless to say, this is majorly overstepping professional boundaries.
The show was canceled a mere two months after the first season premiered. The series was named after the Fleetwood Mac song Gypsy, and Stevie Nicks even recorded a new acoustic cover for the doomed show’s theme song. Gypsy also stars Billy Crudup and Blythe Danner.
Naomi Watts headlining a sexy thriller seemed like a good idea in practice. After all, she’s famous for David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001). But critics agreed that the show was boring and terribly executed. It has a paltry Rotten Tomatoes score of 25%.
13. Marco Polo
“Marco!” Netflix called out to the world when they released this show. But not a “Polo!” was uttered in return.
Season one of this period drama was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. After season two was met with the same, it was canceled by Netflix.
The period drama followed the real-life historical figure Marco Polo, a 13th-century explorer. The series is about his time in the court of Kublai Khan, Khagan (or, emperor) of Mongolia. The cast is made up of unknowns. It just felt like no one was watching the show.
12. Netflix Presents: The Characters
The Characters (2016) was an interesting experiment. Netflix gave eight up-and-coming comedians a chance to write and star in a 30-minute episode of TV. It’s as if Netflix gave these comedians their own series, except they only gave them one episode each.
The comedians are Lauren Lapkus (Crashing, Orange Is the New Black), Kate Berlant, Phil Burgers, Paul W. Downs (Broad City), John Early (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), Tim Robinson (Detroiters), Natasha Rothwell, and Henry Zebrowski.
Netflix has become known for its standup specials, so this unique project makes sense for them. But they could have done a better job promoting it and making it clear that this show was sketch comedy, not stand-up, so audiences wouldn’t be so disappointed
Girlboss was doomed by bad timing.
The show, which is based on the autobiographical book #Girlboss by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, premiered in the wake of the fashion company falling from grace. Nasty Gal had recently declared bankruptcy, and Amoruso was making headlines for the way she mistreated her employees. Amoruso was also involved in the show, serving as an executive producer.
The public’s opinion of Nasty Gal and Amoruso had changed from the time when #Girlboss was a best seller. No one wanted to watch Amoruso’s origin story now.
Netflix should have killed the project when Nasty Gal declared bankruptcy. Instead, they premiered the first season, only to cancel the show. Season one received mostly bad reviews and viewers called the Sophia character unlikeable.
The premise of Between is that a mysterious disease has killed everyone over the age of 22 in the town of Pretty Lake, leaving only sexy young people. Now they have to fend for themselves as the government quarantines them.
But no one has ever heard of this show. It earned a very low Rotten Tomatoes score of 22%. It didn’t help that the only famous person in the cast was iCarly‘s Jennette McCurdy. Creator Michael McGowan isn’t well-known either, with his most recognizable credits being directing episodes of Murdoch Mysteries and Reign.
Ultimately, this is just another YA dystopia that fails to distinguish itself from the pack. Netflix has yet to renew Between for season three. But if it is canceled, the news reports about it will likely be the most press Between has ever gotten.
Derek is just another serviceable but forgettable non-Office Ricky Gervais show.
It premiered in the UK on Channel 4 and was bought by Netflix for streaming in the U.S. In this mockumentary, Gervais plays Derek Noakes, a kind and selfless but naive worker at a home for the elderly. He also directs and writes.
The series is more heartwarming than his usual projects, but something about it rings a little false. Derek is far from being one of Gervais’ best shows, and concluded in 2014 after two seasons and a special.
Critics have said that the character seems to be on the austism spectrum, although Gervais has been purposely vague about this. Netflix partnered with Gervais again in 2016 to make the terrible movie Special Correspondents.
8. Hemlock Grove
Bill Skarsgård was terryifing the nation as Pennywise in IT, he was starring in the Netflix original horror series Hemlock Grove.
Hemlock Grove is based on the debut novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy. The story takes place in Hemlock Grove, PA, where two residents team up to solve a string of brutal murders. But the cast is complicated by the town’s dark secrets.
The show premiered in 2013 and was canclled in 2015 after three seasons. At the time, Bill Skarsgård wasn’t famous yet, and there were no big names in the cast. Netflix took a risk on Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman as first time showrunners.
With Marseille, we’re getting into the dregs of Netflix’s original shows. Is it the absolute bottom of the barrel? No, there are Netflix originals that are way worse. But Marseille is pretty nonessential.
It’s a hopelessly generic French show in which renowned actor Gérard Depardieu plays the mayor of Marseille, France, who is trying to get re-elected in a world of local political corruption.
Has Netflix done one minute of PR for this show? No. The show has been pretty much absent in media coverage. It has a low rating of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. But despite all this, it’s been renewed for season two.
Please note that this is not the same series as Showtime’s The Borgias: it’s a competing period drama about the historical family.
The two were even created in the same year: 2011. But The Borgias is by far the better of the two. Borgia, on the other hand, is a French-German-Czech-Italian series that Netflix picked up for distribution in the U.S. It’s a pretty obscure show; no one in the cast is very well known.
Although it’s about the very dramatic Borgia family and is full of sex and corruption, Borgia doesn’t manage to be very engaging. The Borgias, on the other hand, has Jeremy Irons and 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. Strangely enough, at three seasons long, Borgia ran for just as long as The Borgias, even though no one has heard of the former.
On August 25, 2017, Disjointed came onto Netflix with little fanfare.
If you’ve never heard of it, you didn’t miss anything: the comedy has a 21% on Rotten Tomatoes and reviewers wrote that the humor was predictable and unamusing.
The plot is straightforward: it’s about Ruth Whitefeather Feldman (Kathy Bates) and the young adults she hires to work at her Los Angeles marijuana dispensary. It pales in comparison to Netflix competitor HBO’s much better stoner comedy High Maintenance.
Besides Kathy Bates (American Horror Story, Titanic, Misery), the main cast is full of fresh-faced unknowns. Netflix ordered 20 episodes of what they’re calling “Part 1” rather than season one.
4. White Gold
White Gold is merely okay, which is disappointing, because it comes from the creators of the excellent comedy series The Inbetweeners and reunites two actors from the show.
White Gold follows sleazy window salesmen in 1980s Essex, who spend their days selling customers crappy windows (the titular “white gold”) on installment plans that they can’t afford. It stars Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick (doing his natural English accent) as a fast-talking, lie-telling, suit-wearing lead salesman, as well as The Inbetweeners‘ James Buckley and Joe Thomas.
The show is a BBC production, and Netflix bought streaming rights in the U.S. Although it’s a comedy, most of the humor on the show comes from Westwick, Buckley, and Thomas insulting and abusing each other, which is barely good for a mild chuckle now and then.
Before Netflix’s first original show House of Cards, there was Lilyhammer.
In 2012, Netflix inked a deal to stream the Norwegian show in North America, technically making it the first Netflix original show even though Netflix worked on it with Norwegian TV channel NRK1.
Lilyhammer is a comedy-drama about a New York City gangster starting escaping the mafia to start a new life in remote Lillehammer, Norway.
The crime show originally premiered on NRK1. The Sopranos‘ Steven Van Zandt led an otherwise Norwegian cast. Van Zandt, who is mostly known for The Sopranos, was very involved in the show: he was a writer and director as well as a composer, music supervisor, and producer.
2. All Hail King Julien
There’s a whole world of third-tier Netflix original kids’ shows out there that you’d probably only know about if you have kids and have run out of good shows on Netflix for them to watch.
One sector of these crappy kids shows is TV spinoffs of Dreamworks films. There’s Dawn of the Croods, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Turbo FAST… the list goes on. All Hail King Julien is a perfect example. It’s a spinoff of Madagascar focusing on King Julien and the lemurs of the island. It is also one of the many of its slapdash Dreamworks brethren to be canceled.
Will Arnett actually has not one, but two Netflix original shows. But while BoJack Horseman is critically-acclaimed and beloved by viewers, Flaked is… not either of those things.
Arnett plays Chip, a recovering alcoholic in Venice Beach, CA who’s sobering up and facing reality. Although it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 42%, Netflix has produced two seasons so far and it just letting it quietly exist on the streaming platform for the three people that watch it.
Flaked started in 2014, two years after BoJack Horseman made Arnett a bankable Netflix star. Flaked seems like a failed attempt on Netflix’s part to use the success of BoJack Horseman to launch another Will Arnett comedy.
But now it feels like Flaked, the other Will Arnett Netflix original show, is a skeleton in the streaming company’s closet.
Do you like any of these shows? Which Netflix shows do you wish you could forget.
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