Some TV shows just don’t deserve the hate that they get.
For some reason, certain terrible television series will go on for years and receive dubious critical praise, while some groundbreaking and awesome TV shows receive all sorts of unwarranted negative feedback when, truth be told, they were probably just misunderstood.
Most awesome TV shows that get trashed by viewers usually experience the following situations: they are compared to another series currently on television that appeals to a broader audience, they feature complicated (and probably intentionally dislikable) characters that viewers give up on understanding, or they have a less-than-great season (or two) and are judged in perpetuity for those bad episodes – even if everything else was great.
The truth is that no network, writer, director, or actor sets out to make a bad TV show, and sometimes the value of an amazing project is just a little bit harder to recognize. Thankfully, in a “Peak TV” Golden Era where every network is setting out to create original content, a lot of awesome projects with huge potentials are being given the chance to flourish and time to develop.
Open your mind, because it’s time to uncover 15 Hated Shows That Are Secretly Awesome!
15 AGENTS OF SHIELD
It took a while for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find its footing and capture audiences’ attention without having to solely rely on the Marvel Cinematic Universe over-arching continuity, but after four seasons, it is safe to say that this is absolutely an exciting and must-see TV series for all comic book fans.
Most of the negative criticism that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets stems from the fact that the show’s initial seasons failed to build on the stakes presented by MCU movies and turned out to be very pointless in the Universe’s overall continuity.
But as this television series became its own thing and explored its own mythology, it became awesome, and far outlived the other Marvel Studios TV show, Agent Carter. It’s no wonder that while the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Rotten Tomatoes score just keeps on getting higher as the seasons pass.
14 AMERICAN HORROR STORY
Few shows are as loved as American Horror Story - or as hated.
American Horror Story is Ryan Murphy’s first successful anthology series, and actually reinvigorated this genre/concept in the television landscape. While the exciting thing about anthologies is that you always get something new year after year, it also means that some seasons are a lot better than others, and that fans are upset when their expectations aren’t met.
The biggest feat in relation to American Horror Story is that, like Glee (also from Ryan Murphy), it started an entire trend on TV based on its success. If it weren’t for AHS, it’s hard to imagine that we’d get American Crime Story (or American Crime), Fargo, Feud, or that U.S. audiences would even respond to Black Mirror.
13 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD
Fear the Walking Dead is a The Walking Dead spin-off/prequel also based on the Robert Kirkman comic book series of the same name. For some reason, however, Fear never captured the amount of viewership that its older sibling receives, even when, at times, it feels like a much better show.
Unlike The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead moves rather quickly and often focuses more on the human stories around zombies than on the ongoing threat of being captured and bitten by the Walkers. It took many years for The Walking Dead to understand that audiences would quickly grow tired of the horror surrounding zombies, and Fear jumped right into the human drama happening in a world that is learning to live with an imminent threat.
12 IRON FIST
Marvel Studios and Netflix had never experienced such an overwhelming negative feedback as they did once they released Iron Fist, a show that was meant to follow up on the success of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage and set the Netflix-MCU up for The Defenders.
But it’s safe to say that Iron Fist is not that bad. In fact, in some ways, it's actually quite a fun show. Maybe it has a different tone than its predecessors, and a protagonist that is harder to empathize with… but that does not necessarily mean that it is a bad TV series.
Iron Fist was certainly watched enough times and liked by enough people for Netflix – in the midst of so many cancellations – to greenlight a second season of the show, even if that meant bringing in a brand-new showrunner.
11 THE OA
Netflix’s The OA is probably not for everyone, but it is by far one of the most awesome shows of 2016.
Most of the negativity that surrounds The OA has to do with the fact that it came out the same year as Stranger Things, which is also a sci-fi TV series on Netflix and was universally beloved by almost anyone who watched it. The OA doesn’t have that universal appeal – it has episodes of different lengths, takes poetic licenses that go unexplained, introduces “movements” that are hard to follow, and features an ending that left many confused.
None of those factors, however, make this TV show bad. On the contrary: The OA is special because it is so original and different from anything else on television. Thankfully a second season is in the cards.
10 ONCE UPON A TIME
Before Disney started to greenlight several live-action versions of its iconic animated films, Once Upon A Time served as a sandbox for the company to reimagine its famous characters in a real world setting.
After six seasons, the notoriously cheesy Once Upon A Time has featured a numerous amount of beloved characters, such as Snow White, Belle, Pinocchio, Captain Hook, Jiminy Cricket, Frozen’s Elsa and Anna, Aladdin, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West. Most notably, the show also adapted Mulan as a bisexual character, which, at the time, seemed to have taken a lot of guts from Disney-owned ABC.
Though Once Upon A Time seems to have lost its steam throughout the years, nothing changes the fact that it is a quite magical show that showed Disney the potential of bringing its most iconic characters to life.
Talk about diversity. Sense8 had eight protagonists: Capheus, from Nairobi; Nomi, from San Francisco; Sun, from Seoul; Wolfgang, from Berlin; Will, from Chicago; Lito, from Mexico; Kala, from Mumbai; and Riley, from London. This TV show was all about inclusiveness, featuring characters of all backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, and social classes.
From the Wachowskis, the duo responsible for The Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas, and Jupiter Ascending, Sense8 was incredibly inventive, poetic, and exciting. The show developed a ferocious following around the world, and after its cancellation, there was a massive push for Netflix to produce a 2-hour finale special to finish the ongoing storylines.
Sense8 proved that Netflix could produce a television series with global proportions and universal appeal, but most of all, it highlighted characters that are not always featured on mainstream TV shows.
8 CHICAGO FIRE
Chicago Fire has been an outstanding success story for NBC, singlehandedly introducing an entire Chicago-based universe of shows that also includes Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice. Out of all four series, Justice is the only one to have been canceled in the franchise so far, which shows the tremendous success this franchise – which at times even crossed over with Law & Order: SVU – has been enjoying.
Created by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, Chicago Fire follows the brave firefighters at Firehouse 51 in the city of Chicago. It features actors such as Jesse Spencer (previously known for his role in House), Taylor Kinney (of The Vampire Diaries fame), and Monica Raymund (from Lie To Me and The Good Wife).
7 PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
Pretty Little Liars is a teen soap opera-like thriller that never set out to be more serious than it should be. It went on for seven years, which is quite an accomplishment and proves how inventive the series had to be in order to endure the test of time.
The most awesome thing about Pretty Little Liars is that it placed five girls (four living, one dead) in the center of the TV show, and told their stories in a way that was not dependent on love interests (until the finale, at least). These girls were in action scenes, solving mysteries, helping each other out, physically fighting, and protecting themselves, which was quite a novel idea for 2010, when the series came out.
A lot of people hate Girls for all the wrong reasons. They confuse Lena Dunham – the writer – with Hannah, the character. They think the characters are annoying, don’t know what they want, or that they are promiscuous and aimless. But Girls was about a very particular and very real experience young adults face in today’s society, and this little HBO show opened the doors to a lot of female-driven comedies with a different point of view that came right after.
Broad City, Insecure, Search Party, Chewing Gum – you name it! It is undeniable the impact that Girls had on television because it was such as success story and conversation starter. Not to mention the careers it kick-started besides Lena Dunham, like Adam Driver (who went on to star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Allison Williams (who blew up even more in Get Out), and Andrew Rannells (who finally received recognition outside of his Broadway work).
Based on the novel of the same name by Sophia Amoruso, Girlboss told the story of a complex young woman called Sophia starting out a business in the fashion industry. It was a very rare instance in which a Netflix original series did not get picked up for a second season.
But the negative responses to Girlboss, like in the case of Girls, was honestly quite unfair. The show never set out to portray the most friendly, perfect, and flawless female protagonist, but a real, complicated, struggling one. There is a shortage of female-driven entrepreneurship being portrayed on TV as well, and Girlboss perfectly filled that gap with a plot that wasn’t afraid to show the obstacles one has to face when starting a business.
Gypsy hasn’t been in a lot of people’s radars and was trashed by most television critics, giving it an undeserved 26% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Curiously, however, on the platform’s Average Audience Score, the show has an 85% – which is quite a stark disagreement with the critics’ perspectives.
Starring the incredible Naomi Watts (a two-time Oscar nominee), Gypsy tells the story of a therapist who becomes a little too involved with her patients’ stories. Nowhere Boy and Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson directed the first two episodes of the series, setting the tone for the rest of the first season.
After the end of Lost, many viewers were eager to find the new show that could succeed it, and in many ways, Alcatraz came with that objective. That intention was so clear that the series secured J. J. Abrams as an executive producer and actor Jorge Garcia (who played Hurley in Lost) as one of the protagonists.
While Fox did not deem Alcatraz as a success, it felt like the first TV show in a post-Lost era to actually come close to filling that sci-fi thriller gap. The show’s back-and-forth storyline between present day and 1963 was compelling enough to draw 10 million viewers in its premiere and average a viewership of 9 million people through its first and only season. When Alcatraz was canceled, it felt like not enough time was given for an awesome series to be properly developed.
It’s easy to talk smack about Glee, which after a solid first season started to prioritize music choices before its plot, and ended up presenting audiences with very strange storylines such as “Grilled Cheesus,” an episode about the image of Jesus being seen on toasted bread.
But the truth is that Glee reinvigorated the entire genre of musicals on television, which had been dead for years. It’s hard to imagine that we’d have Empire, Smash, or even the recent live Broadway musical specials on TV if it wasn’t for Glee’s huge success since it premiered in 2009.
Glee was also Ryan Murphy’s first mainstream mega-hit, which propelled the writer to later develop TV series such as American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and Feud.
1 FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE
Friends From College is quite hilarious and most definitely does not deserve its 25% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Starring Keegan-Michael Key (responsible for Key & Peele alongside Get Out’s Jordan Peele), Cobie Smulders (of How I Met Your Mother fame), and Fred Savage (from The Wonder Years), this television show is not afraid to raise the stakes, explore dislikable characters, and get serious when comedy doesn’t fit.
Like all great comedies, Friends From College makes a solid point in the midst of its jokes: some people you were once attached to are better left behind.
Which hated shows do you actually love? Sound off in the comments!