A decade of television that is often seen in the best possible terms, during the 2000s, fans were treated to an extremely long list of quality television shows. Of course, with that said, if you go back and watch some of the shows that you used to think were good from that era without nostalgia glasses, you may feel disappointed..
In order for a show to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to be a sitcom that aired in the 2000s that over time has grown to be seen in a worse light. That doesn’t mean it needs to have been a critical darling during its initial run, as long as it is now considered worse than it once was. We also want to make it clear that for the purposes of this list we didn't consider shows that began airing in 2010, as that was our cut off point.
A kind of show that was designed to be as easily digestible as possible, many sitcoms end up going for the easiest and most timely jokes possible. That fact makes this television format especially vulnerable to coming off ever more poorly as time goes on. Realizing all of this inspired us to put together this list of 15 sitcoms from the 2000s that have aged poorly.
15 Will & Grace
We know, we know, the inclusion of Will & Grace on this list may seem illogical considering it has been given a revival that aired one season already and has been renewed for more. If that weren’t enough, this entry may feel even more egregious for some as the show was ground-breaking, given that it debuted with a gay character as a series lead. If you feel that way we totally get it and we respect this show’s accomplishments as well. That said, none of that precludes the previous version of this show from aging poorly, which we feel very strongly it has.
An interesting series as in some ways it was more inclusive that pretty much any mainstream show in North American history up to that point, despite that, Will & Grace was also harsh a lot of the time.
We say that because it can be really hard to sit through Jack’s many jokes about Will being fat, the endless array of gay puns, or the remarks about Karen’s heritage. That said, even though the show can be quite cringeworthy for that alone, there is another problem with it that has caused it to age poorly. A victim of the stunt casting bug, Will & Grace seemed overjoyed to roll out the red carpet for anyone who was famous at the time and some of those former stars have since faded away or worse.
14 The King of Queens
One of the longest running sitcoms of its era, The King of Queens debuted in 1998 and managed to stick around for an impressive nine seasons. A series that was notable for a lot of things, like turning Kevin James, Leah Remini, and Patton Oswalt into stars or bringing Jerry Stiller back to television, it also created a dedicated fan base. Never exactly a critic’s darling, however, a big part of the show’s charm was that it felt like it was created by, starred, and was made for the average man and woman.
Suddenly relevant in recent years, The King of Queens has been talked about a lot of late due to the reunion of Kevin James and Leah Remini in a new show, Kevin Can Wait. A return of a TV couple that was celebrated by many people, it left us wondering one thing, had these people watched The King of Queens recently? We say that because we find the dynamic their King of Queens characters shared pretty off-putting in retrospect. One of the best examples of a television phenomenon we would love to see never return, the fat guy with a hot wife that nags him all the time thing is incredibly tired. Of course, that is also to say nothing about the fact that it feels awfully sexist too.
13 How I Met Your Mother
One of a select group of television series that have managed to become sensations of sorts, How I Met Your Mother had an extremely devoted following. Perfectly evidenced by the fact that several books based around concepts seen on the show were released, including The Bro Code and The Playbook, fans of this series liked it a whole lot. As a result of that, it aired nine seasons and people waited with bated breath to see the titular mother debut in the flesh. Of course, there is a long history in television of shows dipping in quality as they progress and many people feel that happened with HIMYM. Still, this series was quite acclaimed throughout much of its initial run.
Proof positive of how much a society can change in a short period of time, How I Met Your Mother ended in 2014 and it has already aged poorly.
Meant to focus on a hopeless romantic’s quest to find his one true love, the show’s main character often drew women in by speaking about his thoughts on romance and then tossed them aside. Then you had Barney Stinson, a character whose whole shtick was scamming woman into going to bed with him through the use of insane deceptions. A habit the show most often celebrated him for, aside from other characters occasionally chastising him in between laughing at his horrific deeds. Aside from Marshall, the guys in this show are revolting.
12 That '70s Show
One of the most dependable pop culture trends, as each generation grows in to adulthood, they are bound to feel major nostalgia for the years of their youth. As such, the idea of creating a sitcom in the nineties that played on the affection that people felt for a couple of decades earlier was a pretty fantastic one. As a result, That '70s Show not only came into existence but it was also a big enough hit to make stars out of almost all of its young stars. Additionally, Fox was so eager to recreate its success that they created a spin-off series, That ‘80s Show, even in the midst of the original sitcom’s run.
No longer able to hold up for a number of reasons, first off, when the show first began airing the idea of network television showing youngsters partaking was seen as edgy and cool. These days, however, even some of the safest series have gone there, so you need to be far wittier about it than That ‘70s Show ever was. Next, the show’s main character, Eric Forman, has become ever less likable as his mistreatment of his longtime girlfriend, Donna Pinciotti, stands out in the world of modern television. Finally, in light of the man accusations that were made against one of the show’s lead actors, Danny Masterson, his scenes can no longer be viewed in the same light.
One of HBO’s biggest shows not too long ago, at one time Entourage was a big enough deal that it could attract a seemingly endless array of guest stars. For instance, some of its most notable cameos include the likes of James Cameron, Dennis Hopper, Gary Busey, Scarlett Johansson, Peter Dinklage, and Kanye West. Despite all of those celebrities, at its core, the show was about the relationships its main characters had with one another.
A major part of this series right from the start, unlike the other Entourage lead characters, Ari Gold did not grow up alongside the likes of Vinnie Chase, Turtle, E, and Drama. However, once he is hired to represent the group’s main star, Vinne, Ari becomes a key member of this group of friends. Evidently, that means they have no problem with the endless scenes in which he is abusive to his many underlings. Well, we’re not, despite the show’s attempt to show him as secretly caring for the people he habitually mistreats. Worst of all, we’re supposed to be fine with the way he treats the kind hearted Lloyd, a character he demeans for being gay and Mongolian-American. In addition to all of that, the fact that the actor that plays Ari, Jeremy Piven, has been accused of horrific things in real life only makes it all worse.
10 Two and a Half Men
A show that has a lot in common with Entourage, Two and a Half Men also featured a wealthy main character that made his fortune in entertainment. Additionally, Two and Half Men’s Charlie Harper also lived a hard lifestyle and had a sibling that sponged off of him for years. However, that is where the shows diverged as Two and a Half Men existed on network television so it couldn’t push the envelope as much, and it always went for the cheapest, laugh track inducing jokes. That said, no matter how many detractors Two and a Half Men had during its run, to say it was a smash hit somehow seems like an understatement.
A sitcom that went through two distinct eras, it seems as though Two and a Half Men was defined by its lead actor.
We say that because Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher have incredibly different images and played characters that in a lot of ways were polar opposites of one another. Still, both versions of the series have already not passed the test of time. Starting out as a show that featured a heartless misogynist in its main role, with Sheen at its helm viewers saw him treat women as objects and many female guest stars were portrayed as stupid. On the other hand, under Kutcher, the series focused on a hopeless romantic but his character’s embrace of Sheen’s sponge of a brother never made sense and the show never hit its stride.
9 My Name is Earl
A show that aired in between 2005 and 2009, My Name Is Earl’s creator deserves a lot of credit for his fantastic idea. Focused on the titular character, Earl Hickey, when the show begins, he is a down on his luck small-time thief whose personal life is chock filled with drama. Then everything changes for him after he wins the lottery only to be hit by a car and lose the ticket. Introduced to the concept of karma while lying in his hospital bed, it quickly becomes his core belief after he does something kind and then finds his winning lottery ticket. As a result, Earl sits down and writes a list of all his misdeeds and then in each subsequent episode, viewers got to witness his attempts to make things right.
Pretty great when the show began, the series works at first in large part due to things like its talented supporting cast. However, it began to run on fumes amazingly quickly as the often cartoonish characters at its core were revealed to be extremely one-note. It even seems as though the people behind the scenes knew the show had hit the skids to a degree, considering the series reinvented itself to a large degree during its third season. A show that began to fall apart quickly while it still aired in a weekly format, the show’s incredibly repetitive nature stands out, even more, when you view it in binge format now.
8 Grounded for Life
Only able to last for two seasons, despite that, when Grounded for Life debuted it seemed very clear that Fox thought they’d found their next hit sitcom. Never able to live up to that level of expectation, there is still no doubt that the show was able to develop a following that swore by it at the time. However, we feel quite confident that the majority of those viewers would no longer have as much affection for the series if they rewatched it with current eyes.
A show that debuted in the early 2000s, to say that Grounded for Life is a relic of the era in which it was created is an understatement.
Clearly, an attempt to follow in the footsteps of shows like Married... With Children and Unhappily Ever After, this series is stuffed to the gills with sarcasm, immaturity, and even occasional nastiness. Worse yet, even if you are looking for a sitcom that is going to push the envelope and flirt with tastelessness, this show is likely not going to hit the right note for you as it pulls its punches. All in all, over time, the flawed nature of this series has only become all the more obvious.
7 What I Like About You
Two actors with very different careers, Jennie Garth became famous as a star of Beverly Hills 90210 while Amanda Bynes’ rise began as the lead in some family friendly Nickelodeon shows. They were extremely different paths to take, but they still ended up working together when they played the two main characters in the sitcom What I Like About You. A series that was much more in line with the shows that made Bynes a star, this mostly inoffensive series could be relied upon to be an enjoyable way of spending a half hour of your life. Sadly, in the years since it first aired, its family friendly nature, which was its main selling point, has been tarnished.
At one time an actor that seemed like she had it all figured out and had a great career in front of her, Amanda Bynes then underwent what can only be described as a meltdown. Announcing that she was through with acting as the 2010s dawned, after that, it was her personal life that garnered attention for her. Eventually able to put her life back together, her issues seem to have in part stemmed from the pressures of fame. As such, watching her in a bland sitcom that contributed to a career that sent her down that path is a wholly different and less fun experience.
6 Gary Unmarried
A series that aired on CBS from 2008 until 2010, Gary Unmarried was the kind of sitcom that flew under the radar but was generally liked by those that tuned in. A show that only a few decades ago never would have existed, as its name may have given away, it focused on a divorced couple as they co-parent and start new relationships. The kind of story that would never have passed in the days of Ozzie and Harriet, it was refreshing to see a sitcom that put its main characters in a situation that millions of people can relate to.
Far from unique today, in pretty much every way Gary Unmarried feels terribly aged. For instance, it starred Jay Mohr, an actor that was highly in demand when this show debuted, but now barely ever works onscreen and is likely unknown to many people. On top of that, the relative uniqueness of featuring a divorced couple at the core of a show has been decimated by a long list of shows about fractured families that have existed since then. Finally, the show’s humor itself no longer works to a large degree as TV viewers are sick of the kind of juvenile characters this show is filled with.
The kind of thing that you don’t see nearly as much in the current TV environment, during the eighties, nineties, and 2000s, many stand-up comedians were given their own sitcoms to star in. A trend that gave the world some fantastic series like Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, and far too many others to list here, some sitcoms led by comedians have been mostly forgotten. An example of just that, Titus was based on stand-up routines that had made its lead actor, Christopher Titus, a rising star in the comedy world. Evidently a person with a somewhat dark outlook on life, Christopher made for an interesting person to focus a network television show around.
Featuring a slew of characters that are genuinely unlikable, the only real bright spot that Titus offers up is Cynthia Watros’ character, Erin Fitzpatrick.
A fact that at one time was actually seen as a strength of this series, Titus stood out because it didn’t end each episode with a group hug. However, in the years since this show was cancelled, that has become a great deal more common, so this series now has to stand on its own merits, something it fails to do.
4 The War at Home
From one show based on awful people to another, this time around it is time to look at The War at Home, a sitcom that is centered on a messed up family. Starring Michael Rapaport, an actor that was known for playing loud mouths, he seemed like a strange choice to lead a sitcom. That said, once you turned into his show, it became clear that casting him was a pretty ingenious move, as he could easily pull off playing a dad that pulled absolutely no punches.
Produced by Fox while it was airing other shows like The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, and other sitcoms in that vein, this series was well received by the network’s audience at that time. That said, plucked out of that lineup all these years later, this sitcom is a pretty hard watch. After all, Michael Rapaport‘s character is a total bigot who seems to relish ranting at his kids, especially his eldest son who he presumes is homosexual, you know, because gay panic is hilarious. Evidently an attempt to follow in the footsteps of shows like All in the Family, as Rapaport’s character often gets his comeuppance, this series revels in his intolerance with far too much glee for our taste.
3 8 Simple Rules
Finally, we get to look at a show that featured a dad that clearly cherished his children, even if he was exasperated by them on a regular basis. 8 Simple Rules made its television debut in 2002 and, at first, the series revolved around a father and sports writer played by comedy legend John Ritter. Sadly, while the show was still in production, Ritter suddenly passed away. An event that impacted millions of people that had followed his career for decades, his former co-workers suffered a serious blow as they lost their star and friend. However, the decision was made to soldier on and the show handled his character’s death in a fashion that helped millions of people to cope with their real-life feelings of loss.
Clearly, a series that was easy to root for after the blows it was dealt, we still have a great deal of respect for certain episodes of 8 Simple Rules.
However, we also recognize that this show simply was not very good at all after the episodes dealing with Ritter’s death are over. Forced to bring in a pair of new stars to help anchor the series, James Garner and David Spade were chosen. Nowhere near as entertaining as Ritter was, now that we no longer have rose colored glasses on all the time when watching this show, we think their episodes simply fail.
One of the biggest television stars of all-time, Bill Cosby has played a pivotal part in so many hit shows it is astounding. For instance, shows like I Spy, The Bill Cosby Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, A Different World, and Kids Say the Darndest Things all featured him in an important role. On top of that, he starred in The Cosby Show, a sitcom that was the most popular sitcom on television for years. As a result, when he made his return with Cosby, a show that ended its run in the 2000s, it was seen as the return of a gigantic TV star.
Further proof of Bill Cosby possessing the Midas touch throughout most of his career, Cosby had a solid run over four years. In fact, over its run, it was nominated for a long list of accolades, including at the Emmys, NAACP Image Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and the TV Guide Awards. However, it seems pretty obvious that this show will not be seen in syndication very much at all going forward. Named after a person that is now utterly disgraced because the world learned that he has done atrocious things to many women, that has rendered this show pretty much unwatchable.
Without a doubt the most acclaimed television series on this list, at one time Louie was widely seen as being among that absolute best shows on television. A fact that made all the sense in the world, considering its star was also seen as being one of the best comedians around, as his unique way of seeing the world transferred over very well. In fact, this show was so respected that it won sixteen awards and was nominated for another sixty-two. On top of that, according to Metacritic, every season of the show was reviewed positively by at least ninety percent of critics and it was also included on many year-end lists of the top shows.
Able to attain a lofty position in the hearts of fans and critics alike, for that reason, Louie had a far way to fall. The main person behind the show, Louis C.K. created and starred in the show and also served as its main writer and director and even did all editing for the show’s first two seasons. With all of this in mind, there are few shows that are more linked to the voice of a single person than this show. That fact has permanently decimated this series in light of him admitting to severely mistreating several women in real-life. This is especially true since there is an episode of the show named “Pamela: Part 1” that features his character trying to force himself on his female friend.
Which of these do you think has aged worst? Let us know in the comments!