THR TV Critics Pick the 10 Worst Shows of 2015

9:55 AM 12/24/2015

by Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg

From Showtime's 'Happyish' to HBO's 'True Detective,' Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg list (in alphabetical order) which TV shows missed the mark this year.

  1. 1
    10

    The Brink

    HBO

    HBO

    Proving that like rival Showtime, HBO could also swing and miss badly, this political comedy felt like it was birthed in a time machine and sent forward to the Platinum Age of Television, where its overacting, its air of being outrageously funny to those involved if not those at home and its (apparent) protection from helpful notes all added up to a series HBO is just going to pretend didn’t happen. – T.G.

  2. 2
    10

    Dig

    USA

    Ronen Akerman/USA Network

    Tim Kring and Gideon Raff's half-baked religious conspiracy thriller managed to avoid charges of religious intolerance by having no tangible connection to any actual recognizable system of beliefs, while throwing out mumbo-jumbo about red heifers, chosen ones and holy-water skinny dipping. Talented actors like Jason Isaacs, Lauren Ambrose and David Costabile were trapped delivering some of the year's clunkiest dialogue, but the show's biggest star was the one forced out after the pilot. After months of calling Jerusalem a major character, production had to shift away from the Middle East, removing the last iota of distinctive texture and replacing it with New Mexico. – D.F.

  3. 3
    10

    Donny!

    USA

    Courtesy of Patrick Harbron/USA Network

    Congratulations, Donny Deutsch. Even in a year in which Rob Schneider tried, with limited success, to self-produce his own Curb Your Enthusiasm-style vehicle for Netflix, the former CNBC personality delivered the year's worst narcissistic faux-documentary self-parody. A weekly half-hour dedicated to mirthlessly chiding Deutsch for his ego, while also inflating it, Donny! had an episode in which the A-story revolved around the main character's insecurity about his pubic hair because Christie Brinkley was so darned eager to bang him. I'll leave it at that. – D.F.

  4. 4
    10

    Fear the Walking Dead

    AMC

    Justina Mintz/AMC

    For years, fans of AMC's The Walking Dead talked about how they wanted to learn more about the origins of the zombie epidemic, but it probably took them only six hours of this lame spinoff to realize they didn't care that much. Or maybe the problem wasn't showing us the origin of the zombie outbreak, but rather showing this version, overpopulated with thinly written, annoying teenagers and underpopulated with, you know, zombies. The worst thing about Fear the Walking Dead was its lack of urgency. A couple of things happened by the end of the season that hinted at a better show to come, but there was no pleasure at all in getting to that point. [Note that only one of us at THR would put FTWD on a "Worst" list, but that's what happens when you split entries.] – D.F.


  5. 5
    10

    Flesh and Bone

    Starz

    Courtesy of Starz

    It's a little unfair for a first-time series creator to be held to any sort of high standard, but when your name is on one of the best hours of television in the history of the medium ("Ozymandias" from Breaking Bad, of course), that's just what happens. Sorry, Moira Walley-Beckett. Or maybe the problem was just in expecting or hoping that Starz's eight-hour miniseries would be more than Showgirls en Pointe, with a c-story about a heroic, homeless schizophrenic guy borrowed, sans attribution, from The Fisher King. When stars like Sarah Hay, Raychel Diane Weiner, Sascha Radetsky and Irina Dvorovenko were actually dancing, Flesh and Bone achieved some of its lyrical goals, but too often it settled for campy, turgid drama, superficial and perplexing characterizations and all-too-predictable storytelling. – D.F.

  6. 6
    10

    Happyish

    Showtime

    Showtime

    Sometimes bad comes out of nowhere and makes you sad. Before his death, Philip Seymour Hoffman was the star of this buzz-heavy pilot (or extended clip, really) and critics were eager to see more. But the show’s failure wasn’t the fault of replacement star Steve Coogan; nobody could save the theatrical, overwritten essays-as-television that creator Shalom Auslander penned. It was a turgid spectacle that wasted great actors and never felt real for a second (and was canceled). – T.G.


  7. 7
    10

    The Slap

    NBC

    Virginia Sherwood

    There may not have been a more annoying show on television in 2015. Most shows that are bad are just that: badly done. Adding annoying on top seems unnecessary. The American remake of the Australian show was filled with big stars (Uma Thurman, Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Brian Cox, Zachary Quinto), which made it seem like a big deal. The result? A poorly written mess that forced me to the obvious conclusion/joke — that I wanted to slap every person on the show, not just the bratty kid who deserved it. Don’t have a title that makes jokes too easy. That’s annoying, too. – T.G.

  8. 8
    10

    True Detective

    HBO

    HBO

    To clarify: There were many 2015 TV shows worse than the second season of True Detective. Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch and Vince Vaughn all did convincing jobs of appearing confused, uncomfortable and miserable for eight hours. There was that one shootout that had almost nothing to do with anything, but was crazy intense for 15 minutes. And if you're a fan of aerial freeway footage porn, nearly every episode gave you something to get off on. But no show in 2015 had such a precipitous drop from well-deserved phenomenon to well-deserved punching bag as Nic Pizzolatto's crime drama. It became a parody of itself, an unrelenting slog of belabored misery, hollow red herrings, pointless plot resets, meaningless revelations and excruciatingly heavy-handed father-son dynamics. – D.F.


  9. 9
    10

    Truth Be Told

    NBC

    Colleen Hayes/NBC

    Another show that made the jokes too easy, prompting me to write, "Let’s go for the obvious here because that’s what Truth Be Told would do." Everything about it was predictable and dropped on viewers like an anvil. The show that was originally called People Are Talking tried to talk about race with a sledge hammer, making the whole experience feel like something from the ’80s, while series like Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat are doing a much funnier and more nuanced and effective job of actually being honest. – T.G.

  10. 10
    10

    Wicked City

    ABC

    ABC/Eric McCandless

    Perhaps ABC got a little too full of itself with American Crime and wanted to chase after another "cable drama" of sorts. Except Wicked City was tone-deaf from the start: absurd, offensive (the stylized violence toward women raised no red flags at the Disney-owned network?), predictable and juvenile. Stick to the soaps and comedies, ABC. – T.G.

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