From Splitting Up Together to Sweetbitter, most networks seem to have had something that critics deemed worthy of the rubbish bin of bad TV shows last year. In an age where television has surpassed the quality of the film in many ways and Hollywood movie stars are elbowing their way into prime time slots, there's really no excuse for poor TV. Nobody has time to binge a series that's even passable as so-so entertainment, let alone a bomb.
Fortunately terrible shows often end up canceled, which saves those of us who haven't viewed them yet from wasting time on an episode. Some shows aren't even worth having on in the background while you're scrolling through social media, according to Rotten Tomatoes, but sometimes the critics are also off the mark when it comes to what will become a beloved fan favorite.
10 Living Biblically
The CBS show Living Biblically was so terrible it only scored an 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Jay R. Ferguson, Lindsey Kraft and David Krumholtz can't make this show about adapting ancient biblical teachings to the modern world funny. It pretty much adapts the wince-worthy joke, "A rabbi and a priest walk into a bar..." and doesn't get any less cheesy from there. If you like outdated sitcoms that didn't age well from the 90s, you might find it tolerable.
As often happens, audiences did rate the show quite a bit higher with a score of 60%, but it obviously still wasn't a crowd pleaser.
Loving New York is a common theme in everything from You've Got Mail to Luke Cage, so it's no wonder that Stephanie Danler's debut novel, which might have mixed reviews but also has a strong fan following, was adapted into a TV show. It's a coming-of-age story set a bit later in life representative of the author's own experiences in her early 20s that many can relate to or at least find entertaining.
What many found to be rich writing translated to dull television. With only a 30% rating, Sweetbitter is really more of an ambivalent flop, since only a handful of critics gave it reviews and about a third of them found it fresh. Audiences, too, found the Starz series more pleasant than not, giving it an average score of 84%.
This series is NOT your 1988 Heathers film. Paramount Network's show Heathers merely received a 29% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes after its lofty messages regarding social media, high school and other common themes made eyes roll instead of making audiences connect with material that should be incredibly easy to relate with today. It also featured many moments that felt bigoted and hateful, particularly to non-binary people.
Even as a black comedy, the show fails. Sorry, no, there's no world in which fat LGBT teens are oppressing the football team, and in a world where the reverse is true, it's, at its most generous, a joke made in bad taste. The reboot is truly a disservice to the Winona Ryder film, and audiences largely agreed, giving it a barely likable score of 54%.
7 Splitting Up Together
ABC's Splitting Up Together was so close to making it into the mediocre zone with a score of 38% with critics, so it's no wonder that not only did audiences enjoy the show, giving it an 88% approval rating, but it was renewed for a second season.
This is one that you might still want to watch. Yes, many of the jokes feel like sitcom tropes and that's a valid criticism among the better jokes made by modern writers, but it offers the interesting premise of falling back in love with your spouse after the divorce not only because "I didn't know what I had until it was gone," as some films and TV shows have lamented, but because Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson's characters discover the needs of their spouses that they didn't fulfill. It's refreshing in some ways, even if it's far from perfect.
6 I Feel Bad
Once upon a time, it was perfectly permissible to have a rotten first season. "If you stick with it, you'll be glad you did!" we hear about everything from Parks and Recreation to The Office. Executive producer Amy Poehler's I Feel Bad almost seems to hit this same mark with an awkward season that's based on such a relatable concept that we almost need it to work.
The NBC comedy stars Sarayu Rao as a wife, mother and career woman who struggles to "have it all," and the title comes from her feelings from failing at perfection while doing so. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 31% approval rating, but fans were kinder with a 68%. The few critics who reviewed it simply failed to find humor in the show, but we have to wonder if it's just because most of the critics were men who "didn't get it."
5 Our Cartoon President
Spoofing the current president is the easiest way to get laughs in 2018, especially if Stephen Colbert is at the helm, but Showtime's Our Cartoon President only managed a few chuckles with a score of 35%. Critics have found fault with many issues in the show, from its inability to maintain a solid balance between satire and slapstick comedy, actually humanizing the president or regurgitating jokes in the same way programs like Family Guy tend to do.
Fans didn't give the show a whole lot more support with just a 47% rating in favor of the show, but it's being renewed for another season that will premiere in May nonetheless. Perhaps many of us simply prefer the SNL Alec Baldwin spoof of the president, while others are content to guffaw rather than cry over his Twitter feed instead.
4 Life Sentence
The CW's Life Sentence is another example of critics clashing with audiences. With only a 37% approval rating from the site, one might expect the show to be horrible, but honestly, critics just don't think it goes deep enough, portraying the saccharine sweet side of heavy issues and making light of terminal cancer and its effects on the family.
Audiences, however, raved about the program, which was canceled after its first season. An 82% approval rate from audiences pointed to the show's heartwarming message and lightness in the face of agony, which was a comfort to many who watched Stella and her family deal.
Anything written by George R. R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame is bound to be successful, right? Not so when it came to Syfy's Nightflyers, which carries just a 36% approval rating and a summary that reads, "Unsettling without being particularly scary, Nightflyers's low-budget aesthetics and over-reliance on homage betray its intriguing philosophical pondering and impressive creative pedigree." In a Martin work, we expect our scares to feel real.
Audiences didn't love Nightflyers, either, dubbing it worthy of a 61% approval rating and finding the visuals lacking, particularly when compared with Martin's HBO work. The main complaint is that this show failed to really bend the sci-fi genre the way Game of Thrones does the fantasy genre, which raked in so many fans as a result.
2 Here And Now
HBO's Here and Now completely tanked with critics with a rating of 24%, but its premise is so promising. Led by stars like Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins, the series tackled issues like mental illness, STDs, gender fluidity and race and seems like the kind of woke programming we're not all just ready for but in dire need of today.
Audiences, in fact, largely enjoyed the show, giving it an 85% approval rating due to its many moving moments and content, but it was too disjointed and after-school special modeled to really get it past its first season, which is why it was canceled.
With a Rotten score of just 12%, Netflix's Insatiable proves that the company's new dedication toward creating their own content isn't always going to result in fan favorites like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Stranger Things. The show was the worst-rated of the year, and for good reason: not only did it tritely ride on the backs of dozens of stereotypes about everyone from fat people to black people, once again making actual human beings into punchlines, but it also made fun of southerners, gay people, Christians and pretty much everyone.
This could have been a fantastic idea, since we all wish we could go back and give our high school bully a piece of our minds. In fact, the 83% approval rating of fans points more toward that wishful thinking than it being a worthwhile TV show.