You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Worst TV Shows of 2015

OK, now that the headline made you look, a disclaimer: No list can really identify the worst TV shows of any given year, because the sheer tonnage and volume overwhelms any attempt to watch all of them. As a consequence, a lot of terrible stuff gets a pass, since the dishonor roll can only recognize those programs that at least inspired critical analysis in the first place.

Second, defining what’s worst is predicated, in part, on ambition and expectations. So while there might have been a lot of awful cheap stuff on, say, TLC or TruTV that didn’t make the cut, that has to be judged differently than something like the second season of “True Detective” – given the admiration rightfully heaped upon the first – or a big-budget miniseries. From that perspective, “worst” is often a synonym for “most disappointing,” as opposed to those entries singled out strictly on the basis of their chewy badness.

And so, in no particular order, what could also be called “The Hours of My Life That I Would Really Like Back, 2015 Edition.” And if this somehow misses your least favorite, better (or worse) luck next year.

“True Detective” (HBO). Yes, the expectations were probably too high, but this star-studded production was as stiff, unimaginative and frequently illogical as the original was refreshing. And seriously, who runs to abandoned woods when being chased by a horde of bad guys?

“Knock Knock Live!” (Fox). Ryan Seacrest hosted and produced this completely misguided summer hour, which went out into the field to test the theory that people will watch anything if there’s a “Live!” label attached to it, and do anything to be seen on TV. Inasmuch as “Live” was pretty much dead on arrival ratings-wise, guess not.

“Truth Be Told” (NBC), “Dr. Ken” (ABC). Neither of these new sitcoms might have made the list on its own, but the fact that they were scheduled directly opposite each other at 8:30 p.m. on Fridays became a sort of referendum on just how stripped of ambition many of this fall’s new comedies appeared to be. (Honorable mention, incidentally, goes to another NBC sitcom, “One Big Happy.”)

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC). Again, this spinoff was a victim of its ties to the hugely popular original series, having tried to essentially cross “Parenthood” with the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. While that was in theory an interesting idea, a lackluster assortment of characters created little incentive to root for anyone to get out alive.

“Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris” (NBC). Reviving the variety show sounded like a potentially fertile notion, especially with the multi-talented Harris as its star. But to quote the legendary basketball coach John Wooden, this NBC series seemed to confuse activity with accomplishment, proving so frenetic and headache-inducing as to blunt the appealing qualities Harris has demonstrated hosting every imaginable awards show.

“Donny!” (USA). Donny Deutsch’s attempt to cast himself at the center of a “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-type comedy – with the ad man-turned-TV-personality playing a (presumably) more egomaniacal version of himself as a daytime talk host – just made one miss new episodes of “Curb.” A lot.

“Falling Skies” finale (TNT). After a five-year run, this Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi drama reached the point for which its fans had been understandably waiting, when the alien invaders finally get their cosmic comeuppance. But the big finish felt like a total afterthought, suggesting the creative staff ran out of ideas long before the plucky human rebellion ran out of grit and determination.

“Hand of God” (Amazon). This ill-conceived drama cast Ron Perlman as a powerful judge who believes he’s receiving godly visions, pointing him toward the person responsible for a suicide attempt by his son – after watching his wife get raped – that left him in a coma. While the show dealt with the judge’s resistance to taking his kid off life support, it was the series that needed to be put out of its misery.

“Sex Box” (WE), “Seven Year Switch” (FYI), “Neighbors With Benefits” (A&E). All three of these reality shows used a sexually titillating concept – in sequence, a couple having sex on air, spouse swapping and swinging – in pretty desperate attempts to get attention, as if condemnation from the Parents Television Council was their entire marketing campaign. And even then, they were generally plenty stilted and staged, but not very sexy.

The Dovekeepers (CBS). Mark Burnett has successfully expanded from reality TV into scripted biblical epics, but his miniseries adaptation of “The Dovekeepers” looked more like a wounded duck. For anyone seeking a truly compelling version of the siege at Masada – where the vastly outnumbered Jews held off a Roman legion, at least for a time – go find the 1981 miniseries by that name.

Texas Rising (History). History assembled an impressive cast for this 10-hour miniseries devoted to Texas statehood, but then forgot to provide them with a functional script. So while the familiar cry surrounding these events is “Remember the Alamo,” “Rising” was as flat as it was forgettable.

“Hunting Hitler” (History). Yes, the prospect of the FBI investigating whether Hitler somehow escaped Germany is a tantalizing line of inquiry. But History took history’s greatest act of mass genocide, turned it into fodder for a “Cold Justice”-style reality show filled with “ifs” and “maybes,” and then milked that for eight weeks. There was probably a way to do this that wouldn’t have besmirched History’s already shaky reputation. But in terms of the presentation – setting aside the “evidence” – “Hunting Hitler” isn’t it.

“The Leisure Class” (HBO). After eight weeks of listening to contest-winning director Jason Mann quietly fuss about what a committed auteur he is on “Project Greenlight,” the resulting movie offered a reminder that this franchise is ultimately all about producing a reality TV show, not filmmaking, with a history of setting up its “winners” to fail. Watching the show, in other words, magnified the movie’s mediocrity.

More TV

  • Arrow -- "Fadeout" -- Image Number:

    TV Ratings: 'Arrow' Signs Off to Low Numbers

    The CW was likely hoping that “Arrow” would sign off with a TV ratings bullseye, but the series finale failed to draw a large audience missed the mark a little. Stephen Amell officially brought out his bow one last time, and 723,000 total viewers tuned in to watch, which represents almost a 20% drop from [...]

  • 'The Quest': Disney Plus Revives ABC

    'The Quest' Revived as Disney Plus Brings Back ABC Fantasy Reality Show (EXCLUSIVE)

    Disney Plus is reviving “The Quest,” a critically acclaimed but short-lived fantasy reality series that aired on ABC in summer 2014. Casting is under way for a new version of the series, which will now focus on teenage contestants. “The Amazing Race” executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri are back as executive producers [...]

  • John Stankey

    AT&T's John Stankey: TNT, TBS to Boost Unscripted Volume as WarnerMedia Invests in HBO Max

    The march to the launch of HBO Max in May is driving changes across WarnerMedia. John Stankey, AT&T chief operating officer and WarnerMedia chairman, told investors on Wednesday that cable powerhouses TNT and TBS will lean into more unscripted programming as WarnerMedia steers its investment in high-end scripted programming to the nascent subscription streaming platform. [...]

  • BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in

    BBC to Cut 450 Jobs in News Division

    The BBC is to cut 450 jobs in its news operation as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The BBC, which remains the U.K.’s most widely consumed source of news, said it planned to reorganize its newsroom along a “story-led” model, focusing on news stories more than on programs or platforms. This is designed to reduce [...]

  • Bud Light Super Bowl Ad

    Bud Light Asks Super Bowl Viewers to Pick the Ad They Want to See

    Most Super Bowl advertisers put a glitzy commercial in the game and hope for the best. Anheuser-Busch wants viewers to have a stake in the pitch that gets presented on Game Day. Bud Light made two different ads starring Post Malone, and is asking fans to help pick which of the pair ought to run [...]

  • good-morning-america-strahan

    At 'Good Morning America,' Robin Roberts Maintains Her 'X-Factor'

    Robin Roberts used to play basketball in college. She says she’s still building muscles while working at “Good Morning America.” The ABC morning program is many things all at once. It’s a news program. It’s a pillar of the economics of ABC’s parent Walt Disney. And increasingly these days, it is a broader media entity [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris SAG AFRA PRESIDENT

    SAG-AFTRA Unveils Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA has unveiled the guidelines for intimacy coordinators who are on sets when union members’ work involves nudity and simulated sex. The union released “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators” on Wednesday, six months after announcing that it would standardize the guidelines for such scenes. “SAG-AFTRA believes that implementation of these standards [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content