In the vast realm of television, not every show can be a hit. Some make us laugh, cry, or think, while others leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. This article highlights the latter category as we delve into the worst TV shows of all time, according to IMDb user ratings.
From poorly executed sitcoms to cringe-inducing reality shows, we’ve compiled a list of ten series that have gained notoriety for all the wrong reasons. Each of these shows, from the decade-spanning 7th Heaven to the recent Velma, has secured a dubious place in television history.
So, get ready as we traverse the lows of the TV landscape, showcasing those shows that missed the mark, disappointed audiences, and earned the ire of viewers worldwide. Prepare for a unique journey through the worst that television offers, according to you, the viewers.
10 ‘7th Heaven’ (1996 – 2007)
IMDb: 5.2/10 26K | 1-Star Reviews: 15.5% | Popularity: 734
Cast: Stephen Collins, Catherine Hicks, Jessica Biel
Viewers repeatedly lambasted 7th Heaven for its oversaturated approach to moral lessons and highly polarized views of characters and situations. Many viewers found the show’s double standards, hypocritical characters, and lofty, judgmental attitudes deeply unpalatable.
Critics found the parents’ behavior – spying on their children and reacting with disproportionate severity – unrealistic and laughable. The moral righteousness of the characters, far from making them admirable, rendered them unlikable and disconnected from reality.
The show’s portrayal of an ideal person as someone who never drinks, swears, or has sex before marriage and always believes in a personal god was criticized as an unrealistic and harmful dichotomy. Critics noted that the show didn’t allow for a spectrum of good people who might not fit this strict model.
Many viewers found the characters extremely shallow, with kids constantly lying and getting into petty troubles. The contrived storylines, cardboard characters, and uninspired writing further dragged down the show’s appeal.
The show’s overt religious tone and forced morality made many viewers uncomfortable. The parents were characterized as stalking their children and pushing their conservative morals onto them, resulting in many critics citing the show as a poor representation of Christianity.
9 ‘Harry & Meghan’ (2022)
IMDb: 5.1/10 23K | 1-Star Reviews: 45.7% | Popularity: 4833
Genres: Documentary | Director: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Doria Ragland
Cast: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Doria Ragland
Most viewers criticized Harry & Meghan for being biased and lacking depth. They complained about the one-sidedness of the documentary, stating that it felt more like a promotion of Harry and Meghan’s image than an exploration of their lives.
Critics also felt that the documentary focused too much on the couple’s perspective, failing to delve into the complex issues surrounding their departure from the royal family. Viewers commented on the lack of diversity in perspectives and the absence of substantial analysis.
Additionally, users accused the documentary of being unoriginal and exploitative, investing large amounts of money into a project that viewers found neither unique nor engaging. They expressed frustration over the documentary’s focus on the couple’s struggles, calling them out of touch with current times and oblivious to real-world problems.
Lastly, critics remarked on the couple’s self-absorption and sense of entitlement. They criticized Meghan’s portrayal as overly dramatic and inauthentic, while Harry was described as bitter and angry.
8 ‘Inhumans’ (2017)
IMDb: 4.9/10 28K | 1-Star Reviews: 11.5% | Popularity: 1760
Cast: Anson Mount, Serinda Swan, Ken Leung
Inhumans was universally panned by the audience for its poor execution. Criticism was aimed at multiple aspects of the show, including the acting, writing, direction, costumes, soundtrack, and CGI. Viewers deemed the acting subpar, even stating that the best performance, which came from Iwan Rheon, was still lackluster compared to his previous work. The characters were perceived as one-dimensional, and the delivery of their lines felt artificial and forced.
The script was also criticized for being dull and uninteresting, with users calling the writing exceptionally bad. The direction was also deemed poor, leading to scenes and episodes that failed to engage viewers. Poor costume design, particularly for the character Medusa, was also criticized.
The soundtrack and CGI quality were another letdown for many viewers, with the former being called “shitty” and the latter seen as cheesy and low-budget. Some viewers compared Inhumans unfavorably with other successful Marvel TV shows such as Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones, stating that Inhumans fell far short of the standards set by these shows.
Viewers also lamented the wasted potential of the storyline and the characters, expressing disappointment at how these elements were handled. Fans of the original Inhumans comics were especially disappointed, feeling that the show didn’t do justice to the source material.
IMDb viewers agreed that Inhumans was a low point for Marvel, calling the show a waste of money and advising others not to bother watching it. It was frequently described as one of the worst things to come out of Marvel or comic books.
7 ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’ (2008 – 2013)
IMDb: 4.9/10 21K | 1-Star Reviews: 16.9% | Popularity: 1209
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Molly Ringwald, India Eisley
The negative reviews of The Secret Life of the American Teenager criticize it for various reasons. Many viewers found it unrealistic and overly reliant on stereotypes, with poor character development and dialogue. Some noted that the main character, Amy, was uninteresting and shallow and that the show’s attempts to portray her as a typical teenager were unsuccessful.
The central theme of sex and teen pregnancy was also a common criticism, with viewers describing it as overemphasized and not portrayed intelligently or believably. Others felt the show painted a negative and unrealistic image of American teenagers and society, with one viewer stating it “gives a whole general bad impression on American society, as if all teens are really like this.”
There were also concerns about the poor quality of the script, plot, and acting and complaints that the storylines were not entertaining due to their lack of realism. A few reviewers expressed incredulity that the show had continued for five seasons, given its perceived quality.
All these reviews suggest that The Secret Life of the American Teenager was not well-received by many viewers, who saw it as a poorly executed and unrealistic depiction of teenage life.
6 ‘The Idol’ (2023)
IMDb: 4.7/10 68K | 1-Star Reviews: 14.1% | Popularity: 42
Cast: The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Suzanna Son
The Idol has been broadly criticized for its excessive explicit content, with viewers comparing it unfavorably to pornography due to its use of graphic sex scenes. Many have noted that the show’s shock value and smut don’t compensate for the lack of substantial content.
Critics also feel that the show prioritizes aesthetics over a compelling narrative. They take issue with the dialogue, describing it as inauthentic and uninteresting. The plot was seen as weak and uninteresting, diminishing the show’s appeal.
Acting performances, particularly by The Weeknd, came under fire. His portrayal of a club owner and his on-screen chemistry with the other actors were widely criticized. The casting choices have been questioned, with critics noting the reliance on famous names.
Finally, the decision-making and behavior of characters on the show were a sticking point. Critics took issue with the characters making senseless decisions and failing to portray their roles convincingly. Multiple reviewers deemed the series ’embarrassing’ and ‘cringe-worthy.’
Overall, audiences felt the show relied too heavily on shock value and explicit content, lacking a compelling narrative and good performances.
5 ‘American Idol’ (2002 – )
IMDb: 4.3/10 22K | 1-Star Reviews: 29%
Cast: Ryan Seacrest, Mark Thompson, Randy Jackson
Many of the negative reviews for American Idol stem from criticism of the show’s very premise. The reviewers seem to equate the show to a televised karaoke contest, expressing that it appears to devalue the hard work and talent necessary to truly succeed in the music industry. This sentiment may stem from the fact that success on the show often hinges on popular votes rather than demonstrable musical skill or innovation.
Additionally, reviewers frequently cite their belief that American Idol contributes to a general decline in television quality. This perception is tied to the rise of reality programming, which some viewers see as inferior to scripted content. The focus on entertainment and drama, often at the expense of musical quality or diversity, seems to be a sticking point for many reviewers.
Further criticism is aimed at the show’s judges and contestants. According to the reviewers, the judges’ feedback lacks substance and is more focused on entertainment value than providing constructive, musically-informed criticism. The authenticity and talent of the contestants are also questioned, as some viewers feel that the show often favors more marketable contestants over those with raw talent. Moreover, there is a sense that the show has come to focus more on the judges, often high-profile celebrities, rather than the contestants themselves.
Finally, there are criticisms regarding the show’s broader cultural impact. The reviewers see American Idol as fostering a culture of instant gratification and superficial fame, with less emphasis on honing one’s craft. They are concerned that the show promotes a skewed and possibly harmful view of what it takes to succeed in the music industry.
4 ‘Jersey Shore’ (2009 – 2012)
IMDb: 3.8/10 24K | 1-Star Reviews: 42.1% | Popularity: 1928
Cast: Paul ‘Pauly D’ DelVecchio, Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ Giancola, Nicole Polizzi
Much of the criticism surrounding Jersey Shore centered on its perceived promotion of negative stereotypes, particularly of Italian-Americans. Critics were vocal about the show’s focus on partying, superficial relationships, and petty arguments, often arguing that this glamorization of debauchery sent a harmful message to young viewers.
There was also notable dissatisfaction about the show’s representation of the lifestyle in New Jersey, with some reviewers arguing it painted a singular, narrow perspective that was not representative of the state’s diverse population. This lack of nuance, they claimed, encouraged harmful regional stereotypes that extended beyond the show’s Italian-American cast.
From a more technical standpoint, some viewers found the show’s storytelling disjointed and lacking substance. They argued that the perceived over-reliance on shock value was a sign of weak narrative structures and one-dimensional characters. The gratuitous use of alcohol and party scenes, they said, served as a crutch for the lack of engaging and nuanced content.
Finally, the perceived lack of respect between the characters was a concern for many reviewers. They found the constant fighting, disrespect, and casual mistreatment to endorse toxic behavior rather than a critique of it. This led to complaints that the show was promoting unhealthy interpersonal dynamics under the guise of reality television.
3 ‘Batwoman’ (2019 – 2022)
IMDb: 3.6/10 45K | 1-Star Reviews: 46.5% | Popularity: 1163
Cast: Camrus Johnson, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy
Based on the user reviews, Batwoman garnered criticism primarily for its storytelling, character development, and acting. Many viewers found the series lacked a coherent plot, with some citing instances of plot holes and incomplete storylines that undermined the narrative’s coherence and quality. This issue was further exacerbated by a lack of character development, with viewers expressing frustration at the characters’ seemingly illogical actions and decisions.
The series’ acting was a significant point of criticism, with reviewers labeling it as “wooden” and “unbelievable.” Many users felt the performances failed to breathe life into the characters and contribute to a compelling story. In addition to this, the dialogue was regularly described as “cringeworthy” and lacking in substance, which detracted from viewers’ engagement with the series.
Several reviewers also criticized the show’s execution of its “girl power” theme, labeling it as “patronizing” and “pandering.” This aspect, some viewers argued, seemed forced and didn’t resonate authentically, which alienated a portion of the audience.
Lastly, there were strong negative sentiments toward the show’s adaptation of the Batman universe. Critics expressed disappointment and even offense at how the beloved universe was depicted in the series, seeing it as a betrayal of the source material.
2 ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ (2007 – 2021)
IMDb: 2.8/10 31K | 1-Star Reviews: 54.9% | Popularity: 1579
Cast: Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian
Are you even surprised that a show about a vapid family who is famous for nothing more than being famous got such awful reviews? We’re not.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians has received overwhelmingly negative feedback from viewers. Many viewers strongly criticized the show, primarily citing its lack of value, scripted nature, and the perceived superficiality of the Kardashian family members.
One common theme in the reviews is the perception that the show lacks authenticity and is heavily scripted. Viewers accused the show of being staged and planned rather than portraying genuine reality. This perception led to disappointment and frustration among some audience members, who felt they were not accurately representing the Kardashian family’s lives.
Criticism was also directed towards the Kardashian family members, with some reviewers describing them as “horrible people” and “ungrateful Hollywood-raised female woman-children.” Some deemed the show’s focus on their lives and actions to be empty and lacking in substance.
Some reviewers criticized the show for promoting consumerism and materialism, as the Kardashian family frequently showcased their wealth and possessions. Viewers expressed concern that the show’s portrayal of a lavish lifestyle could influence impressionable audiences and contribute to an obsession with material goods.
At least Kris Jenner confessed to feeling cursed by her family’s fame – so you can take solace in that, we’re not the only ones that suffered.
1 ‘Velma’ (2023)
IMDb: 1.6/10 74K | 1-Star Reviews: 87% | Popularity: 955
Cast: Mindy Kaling, Glenn Howerton, Sam Richardson
Ruh-roh, Shaggy…Velma just made the worst TV show of all time.
Receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews, viewers of Velma expressed disappointment and frustration with the show. Many reviewers criticized the series for deviating too far from the franchise source material and turning the beloved children’s cartoon show into something completely different.
One common complaint is the lack of comedy, with viewers questioning the show’s inclusion in the comedy genre. They found the humor juvenile, heavy-handed, and lacking in wit. Additionally, the show was criticized for being mean-spirited and resorting to shock value for laughs.
The character portrayals were also a major point of contention. Some reviewers felt that the characters had been drastically altered from their original depictions and were unlikeable and unrecognizable. This was particularly true for Velma, who was portrayed as an exaggerated version of the creator by Mindy Kaling.
Furthermore, the show received criticism for its edgy and offensive humor, which some viewers perceived as sexist and racist. Some reviewers felt that the show’s attempts at being hip and relevant missed the mark and alienated the audience.
Many viewers considered it one of the worst shows they had ever seen and felt it was a disservice to the Scooby-Doo franchise.
We probably shouldn’t tell them that Warner Brothers approved season 2 of Velma, which should air in 2024.