Let us begin by saying we’re not trying to be petty or mean. But sometimes, we scan the “popular on Netflix” tab, and are kinda baffled by what we see, because many frequently viewed shows are total time vacuums—and some just plain stink. How do we judge whether a much-watched show is worthy of your time? Aside from the primary and most obvious indicator, quality, there is also overall content and utilization of cast and resources to consider (does the show use its cast and budget to make compelling, inventive TV—or is it, as Jon Snow says, “just more of the same”?). Also worth considering: if the series has ended, did its end justify its means? Ultimately, was it worth watching, knowing how it all turned out?
We scanned and scoured Netflix this past month to see which TV shows were deemed to be super popular, and picked out 15 of them we thought you should skip in order to invest your time elsewhere. One note of import: while this list includes many shows that are Netflix original series, we are not focusing exclusively on Netflix originals. The list is a good mixture of non-Netflix shows, as well as series the service calls its own. Thus, here are 15 Super Popular Netflix Shows That Are a Waste of Time:
15 How I Met Your Mother
We know. We loved this show too. HIMYM had moments of brilliance, and Barney was awesome, and the cast was fantastic, but sometimes, a finale can render a viewer's experience null and void, and that's kinda what happened here.
When Cristin Milioti was cast as The Mother, we were beyond excited—and our excitement was met with an incredibly endearing performance from Milioti, who was perfect in the role. It was also met with a sobering realization that the show wasn’t really about her and Ted, or their love at all—she dies, and then Ted literally goes off and romances Robin. Again. After she has already rejected him a million times.
We get why this show is so popular. It was good times for awhile. But knowing how it all turned out, we can’t say it was time well spent.
The entire first season dragged along like Mr. Vargas without his Sanka, and despite an attempt at revamped second and third seasons, Gotham hasn't quite become the show it could have—nor has it become the show we hoped it would be. Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue are fine as detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock, and Robin Lord Taylor is fun as the Penguin—but considering what Marvel is doing TV-wise, this show isn’t exactly breaking any ground, and we really hoped that it would.
Gotham’s fourth season premieres soon, and it obviously has a loyal fan base, but unless the series has a major turnaround soon, we’re not sure it’s worth your time. There’s just too much other stellar TV out there, and sometimes it feels like Gotham doesn't try hard enough.
If you love crazy, batsh** plot twists mixed with predictable, conventional tropes and cliché characters, then Zoo might be for you. But if you’re a fan of high quality television, let’s be real: this ain’t it. Set in multiple locations across the globe, Zoo is about a group of people who investigate a series of apparently coordinated animal attacks. There’s also an evil biotech company involved, a few familiar romantic pairings, and several disturbing scenes involving animals, who are very aggressive here…but the show never really evolves into anything of quality or coherence.
James Wolk is always a welcome presence, but even his dashing rogue can't save the script. If the show had decidedly been an event series, a one season and done kind of thing, it may have been more focused, and that would have been different. But as is, Zoo is too cluttered to waste your precious hours on.
12 Last Man Standing
If you’re looking for fun family fare from Tim Allen because you loved Home Improvement, you might just wanna go watch/rewatch Home Improvement. Last Man Standing lasted six seasons and produced a whopping 130 episodes—none of which were hysterical or even any good, which reminds us...aren’t comedies supposed to be funny?
Allen plays Mike Baxter, an über man’s man who gets to spew his infinite sexist wisdom onto his wife and three daughters while also prattiling on about his political beliefs on his Outdoor Man vlog. Perfect, right? Unless you’re like, obsessed with Tim Allen, why bother? There are plenty of other equally popular classic or contemporary comedies also available on Netflix, from Cheers to Friends to Master of None. Why not check out one of those instead?
11 Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O meant well initially, but it went off the rails, and never got back on track. The cast was never the problem; Scott Caan is aces as Danno, and Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park were both coming off career best work in LOST and Battlestar Galactica, respectively. But Hawaii Five-O never became to detective shows what Buffy became for fantasy shows. With recycled plots and snooze-inducing villains, the show never approached fulfilling its potential—and it doesn’t look like it will any time soon, especially considering the recent exits of Kim and Park.
Despite bringing in niche performers we love for minor or supporting roles (the show has cast everyone from LOST’s John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) to Heroes’ Hero Nakamura (Masi Oka) to Alex Mack herself (Larissa Oleynik), we can’t think of many good reasons to invest in this trip to Hawaii.
10 Blue Bloods
This cop series, starring Magnum P.I. and a former New Kid on the Block (Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, of course), has all the makings for a delicious drama fueled soap opera with swagger. Instead, it’s bland as burnt toast. The show’s first season wasn’t bad, but it ran out of ideas fast in subsequent seasons.
Set in NYC, Blue Bloods is about a family of police officers and lawyers who do their best to unleash justice upon the city, often while trying to side-step familial conflicts. It’s in creating conflict where the show runs into trouble. Very often, the family squabbles and dramatics feel trite or forced, and thus don’t have the weight they should. Criminal Minds and Bones are both also on Netflix, and are better procedural drama options than this one.
9 Once Upon a Time
Another show that had loads of premise and a decent first season is Once Upon a Time. But the series has gone downhill, and has been spotty in quality throughout, and, after losing star Jennifer Morrison, we’re not sure that the show must go on anymore. Sure, Lana Parrilla slayed as the Wicked Queen, and her performance alone is worth catching the first season. Robert Carlyle is also memorable, but the show itself is far too hokey, and it has gone on far too long.
Once will begin its seventh season by getting a much needed creative overhaul, featuring new actors and characters—but we’re just not sure it’s coming in time to save the series, which has been on creative life support for a while now.
We really, really wanted this show to be good. How can you go wrong when you have Kathy Bates as a weed-loving lead? But Disjointed certainly lives up to its name, just about in every capacity. It’s a comedy that isn’t funny (don’t even get us started on that lame, tacked on laugh track), it’s a show about weed that pretty much insults medicinal users and potheads alike, and it has so many awkward moments, we could make a list devoted entirely to them.
We’re not accustomed to seeing Bates in such bad material, especially after her recent varying yet effective turns on American Horror Story. Which, speaking of AHS, it’s also available on Netflix, so if you’re looking to see Bates at her best, watch that instead.
This show had loads of potential and an amazing cast (Naomi Watts, Billy Crudup, and Sophie Cookson among others) but after Netflix passed on a second season and cancelled it, watching Gypsy would likely only frustrate viewers. Not only does it end with several huge cliffhangers, but the first season was wildly uneven—and at times, infuriatingly so.
Naomi Watts stars as one of the most messed-up therapists we’ve seen on TV. She plays Jean, who masquerades under other names (Diane is a favorite) while interfering in her patients’ lives in ridiculously crazy ways, including starting a flirtatious relationship with the ex girlfriend of a patient. Did we mention that she has a husband and a daughter to go with her 50 different lives? While it has its moments, trust us—don’t invest. You’ll only end up feeling empty.
6 Friends From College
Here’s another show we really wanted to be good, because the cast is loaded with grade-A, phenomenal talents (Keenan Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Billy Eichner, and a grown up Kevin Arnold all star). And yet somehow, Friends From College fails on so many levels. Considering the fact that many characters on the show attended Ivy League colleges, it’s astounding how straight up stupid so many of them are.
It’s unfortunate, but Friends From College devolves into catastrophic event after catastrophic event, each feeling more annoying and tacked on than the last, and each serving as a ridiculously mean-spirited or unbelievable plot point. No one likes watching a series whose characters do mean or nonsensical things with zero reprimand or motivation, and this is one of those shows. With Friends like these, who needs enemies, amirite?
Talk about your highs…and your lows. This one definitely started off well, with a captivating and entertaining first season. It had a few decent episodes with shining moments throughout (most notably Celia’s fight with breast cancer, or pretty much anything Kevin Nealon’s Doug ever did) but when taking the show’s final season and ridiculous ending into consideration, we have to consider Weeds to be an unworthy taker of your time.
More about that final season: it featured many awkward, forced, or head shaking moments (Nancy and Andy’s relationship felt forced af, and Shane as a mustachioed cop with a temper faster than his trigger? Please!) that rendered us speechless—and not in a good way.
While we weren’t surprised to see Weeds listed among Netflix’s most popular shows, we would be surprised if viewers got through every season and felt fine after what they had just consumed.
4 Grey’s Anatomy
And we said Once Upon a Time was on creative life support! Here’s a show that, 13 seasons in, still has a very vocal, loyal fan base. We’re not saying they’re wrong in loving Grey’s—we’re just saying that the show will be over 300 episodes in when season 14 begins this fall. Isn’t it time for those scrubs to get hung up already?
Here’s just a small sample of things that have occurred in (and out of) Seattle Grace: a vengeful gunman came and shot and killed several doctors and surgeons, a man comes in with a live bomb strapped to his chest, the hospital loses power—twice—with chaos ensuing both times. Oh, and there have been so many car, train, ferry, and plane crashes, we lost count. At the end of the day, Grey’s is harmless, but it’s also the weakest offering from Shondaland. You’d be far better off checking out Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder instead.
3 Iron Fist
We don’t need to tell you about how critics and viewers alike bombasted this series—we almost feel bad beating up on it again. So we won’t—at least not too hard. But after watching Danny Rand’s arc on The Defenders, we couldn’t help but think it may have been better if he were introduced that way, on The Defenders first, before getting his own show.
Iron Fist got woefully low reviews, despite having a few good moments and a breakout star in Jessica Henwick, whose complicated dojo owner Colleen Wing almost made the first season worth watching. Almost. Trust us—just watch The Defenders instead. We’re not telling you to avoid the show’s sophomore season, we’re just saying that it’s not necessary to check out the first.
2 The Ranch
The laugh track is distracting at best, the delivery is awfully awkward, and the entire series feels like a rehashing of moments from other, better comedies. Since its debut in spring of 2016, The Ranch has found a solid audience, but it has divided critics (the show got 56% on Rotten Tomatoes’ tomatometer) with its hit or miss episodes and spotty, on the nose humor.
The show features That ‘70s Show alumni Danny Masterson and Ashton Kutcher basically playing different versions of the same characters they played on That ‘70s Show. Kutcher plays a very Kelso-esque dude named Colt (whose name may as well be Dolt) who also feels like a tweaked version of his Two and a Half Men character—it’s super weird. Despite having Sam Elliott and Debra Winger in supporting roles, The Ranch isn’t really worth watching, certainly not in the Golden Age of Television.
1 Fuller House
We get it. Reboots are all the rage. It’s fun to revisit your old favorites. But was this one really necessary? Seriously, Full House, its mother show, was never that good in the first place. Sure, it can tug at your heartstrings, and fill our hearts with nostalgic TGIF goodness, but that was the original show. It’s one thing to reboot a series if there’s a unique spin or a new interpretation—but it’s quite another to reboot a show and spend the majority of its first few episodes on character (re) introductions set to a squealing studio audience soundtrack.
Fuller House would have been fine if it had tried to incorporate some talented, seasoned actors as series regulars instead of the same old familiar group. It’s swell that Uncle Joey can still imitate Bullwinkle and all, but the show doesn’t offer up much more substance than moments like that. This is one reboot that needs to be booted.
What do you think? Which Netflix shows should—or shouldn’t—be here, and why? Tell us in the comments.