Hollywood Reporter Critics Pick the Worst TV of 2017

6:30 AM 12/28/2017

by Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg

Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg sift through the dreck, the colossal disappointments and the major miscalculations of the year, so you don't have to.

Clockwise from top left, Twin Peaks,' 'I Love Dick,' 'Marvel's Inhumans,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Gypsy'
Clockwise from top left, Twin Peaks,' 'I Love Dick,' 'Marvel's Inhumans,' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Gypsy'

They can't all be winners. 

By volume, there was more great TV in 2017 than ever before, but there was probably also more bad TV. That's just how it goes.

Some of these shows we're singling out are awful. Some are merely awfully disappointing. We've mostly avoided singling out bad stuff that you probably didn't know existed, stuff like the Audience Network pseudo-comedy Hit the Road or Reelz' comically bad The Kennedys: After Camelot.

Join us as we celebrate TV shows that were best skipped in 2017.

  • 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

    HBO

    Courtesy of HBO

    Let's get this out of the way: Curb Your Enthusiasm was not, realistically, among the 100 worst shows on TV last year, much less the 10 worst, but for me it was surely one of the 10 most disappointing. One of TV's most influential and often brilliant comedies returned rusty after a six-year hiatus. It wasn't that Larry David forgot how to be funny. There were still laughs on the journey to bring Fatwa! to the stage. Where he lapsed was in constructing the elegant episodic farces that characterized the first eight seasons. Week after week, the new Curb season scattered effective punchlines in episodes that seemed loosely edited, if they were edited at all. The bloated running times buried narrative payoffs, diffused the potency of recurring jokes and yet somehow gave the show's myriad guest stars even less to do. As messy as this season was, I'm actually excited that Curb got a swift renewal. Larry David is too talented to disappoint like this again. — Daniel Fienberg

  • 'Dirty Dancing'

    ABC

    ABC/Guy D'Alema

    It's honestly hard to believe this happened in 2017 at all, that ABC decided to remake Dirty Dancing as a weak-sauce jukebox musical that aped some of the most famous images and dialogue from the 1987 classic, only with none of the swagger, choreography and, well, dirty-ness. Abigail Breslin actually gives a sweetly ungainly lead performance, but who thought it was a good idea to do a Dirty Dancing in which Baby and Johnny (Colt Prattes) generate zero sparks? And don't even get me started on Prattes' delivery of the iconic "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Or, actually, any of his dialogue. Never have I appreciated and missed Patrick Swayze more. Despite removing everything good about the original Dirty Dancing, the ABC remake ran a solid 30 minutes longer, thanks to a pointless and unintentionally hilarious structuring device, rendering the climactic end-of-summer dance an afterthought, which maybe wasn't so bad since that dance is utterly lifeless here. Let's just pretend this never happened. — DF

  • 'Gypsy'

    Netflix

    Netflix

    I wonder if Gypsy might have been a different show if it had been made with the awareness that Netflix could legally cancel things. A turgid erotic psychothriller that lacked heat, psychological insight and also thrills, Gypsy is almost cocky in its refusal to move its story forward, relying heavily on characters doing stupid and illogical things just to keep the wheels spinning. By the 10th episode, it finally reaches the place any sensible show might have gotten to by its second hour, suggesting that series creator Lisa Rubin was basically assuming she'd get multiple seasons to tell her story. Instead, Gypsy answered the previously uncontemplated question: "What is the absolute minimum amount of buzz that can be generated by a TV series starring Oscar nominee Naomi Watts?" Sluggish, uninvolving and absurdly on-the-nose in places, Gypsy joined several recent shows on Netflix's one-and-done scrapheap, making it a very poor and frustrating waste of 10 hours. — DF

  • 'I Love Dick'

    Amazon

    Courtesy of Sundance

    An unlikable, pretentious mess that was actually grueling to watch, this series had better ideas (and performances) tucked into its fringe stories but was exceptionally alienating when focusing on the main trio of Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne, which really takes some doing if you think about it. Allegedly directed "in Rashomon style" (according to Amazon) by Transparent creator Jill Soloway, it was more a collection of boring, disconnected memories that put the gruel in the aforementioned grueling. The pursuit of "art" goes painfully wrong here. — Tim Goodman

  • 'The Last Tycoon'

    Amazon

    Courtesy of Amazon Studios

    The gigantic streaming service didn't just do one story based on F. Scott Fitzgerald, it did two (Z: The Beginning of Everything was the other). That was more than Jeff Bezos could apparently stand and certainly more than any viewer should have endured. This turgid, lifeless period piece has more unintentionally funny scenes than believable ones and it plays as accidental farce for shockingly long stretches. Almost nothing is believable here. The script and direction leave stars Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer, Lily Collins, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jessica De Gouw probably praying that you find Z: The Beginning of Everything first and get turned off Fitzgerald forever, leaving them to go unseen in this epic dud. — TG

  • 'Marvel's Inhumans'

    ABC

    ABC/Marvel

    It was another lucrative year on the big screen for Marvel, but the company had some major TV struggles. See also my colleague Tim Goodman's entry on Iron Fist, which was bad enough to nearly bury the long-awaited The Defenders. I'm targeting Marvel's Inhumans because, if nothing else, Iron Fist just arrived as part of your Netflix subscription. Marvel attempted to get fans to pay extra to see Inhumans in a brief theatrical run at IMAX prices, no less. For that money, the handful of viewers tricked into shelling out hard-earned dough were treated to... a few beautiful establishing shots of Hawaii, an acceptable computer generated dog and one of the year's worst broadcast TV pilots. FOR IMAX PRICES. Marvel bilking viewers for the early chance to see this pile of wooden acting, confusing characterizations and dumb plotting would make me angry except that nobody saw it. Very few people watched it for free either. — DF

  • 'Marvel's Iron Fist'

    Netflix

    Courtesy of Netflix

    I purposefully left off this list any broadcast network series precisely because it would be too easy to populate it with that level of fare — or require one with 100 entries. Better to point out when bigger, more expensive, better-pedigreed or prestige-oriented shows that should do better end up failing. In this case, it's not like Marvel is overly concerned with greatness, but it had the resources and ambition to do better than this inanimate, directionless, banal offering.  This series just seemed like a mistake from the start, and only the most diehard and forgiving Marvel fan is cutting it any slack. — TG

  • 'Riviera'

    Sundance Now

    Courtesy of Sky Atlantic

    Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Borgias) and Booker Prize winner John Banville (The Sea) left this project after the first two hours, and it’s easy to see why. According to Jordan, their efforts were thoroughly reworked, which is also tragically easy to see. This was international eye candy (set in Monaco with a mishmash of stars from different countries acting like they were in different stories), told badly, boringly and egregiously fluffed up like cotton candy. Is there anything worse than empty-calorie TV that doesn't even entertain you as a guilty pleasure? — TG

  • 'Twin Peaks'

    Showtime

    Suzanne Tenner/SHOWTIME

    "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Anytime someone asked me what I thought of this self-indulgent, pointless, meaningless (albeit visually trip-tastic) exercise in misplaced nostalgia and auteur idol-worship, I just posted a clip of Johnny Rotten laughing derisively and asking that of the crowd during the Sex Pistols’ final concert of their first and only U.S. tour. (There was a reunion after Sid Vicious was dead and that probably felt a little like this TV series, though not nearly as long.)  I haven't read a good defense of the series that didn't seem delusional, dismissive of those who pointed out its flaws or wasn't both irrational and unpersuasive of its merits. — TG

  • 'Wisdom of the Crowd'

    CBS

    Diyah Pera/CBS

    The wisest thing the crowd did, it turns out, was largely ignore CBS' Wisdom of the Crowd. Almost nothing associated with Wisdom of the Crowd was an especially good idea, including encouraging Jeremy Piven to play the lead role at his most sincere. But mostly the worst idea associated with Wisdom of the Crowd was its basic concept, the idea that after rejecting multiple "Rich guy overhauls public service with his money" dramas last year, audiences would flock to a show that treated crowdsourced crime-solving as an uncomplicatedly good idea and not as a ridiculously poor application of the cacophony of the internet. Piven was miscast, the rest of the actors misused, and the "Gee whiz this is awesome" lack of introspection regarding the premise, especially its implications for due process and basic privacy rights, was excruciating. — DF

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