This Year's 8 Most Cringe-Worthy TV Performances
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Kate Hudson As Leotard Ke$ha And This Year's 8 Most Cringe-Worthy TV Performances

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | December 10, 2012 | Comments ()


The Fall of 2012 wasn't a strong one for television by any accounts. We had one, maybe two good new series ("Ben & Kate" and, rumor has it, "Arrow"?!) and saw one of last year's most acclaimed series come apart at the seams. (Et tu, "Homeland"?) But it's easy enough to ignore the bad and think about the good. "Breaking Bad" was incredible as were both "Mad Men" and "Game of Thrones." Hell, even "The Walking Dead" shambled back to life. But while I can turn a blind eye to bad shows or bad actors on bad shows the thing I cannot ignore, what sends ice water to my veins, is a talented actor wasting their time on a terrible show. It's embarrassing and it's disappointing. Whenever I see it happening, I pray a cancellation will come along and put us all out of our misery. That's right, I love the following people so much, I wish unemployment on them. Mine is a tough love.

8. Kat Dennings -- "Two Broke Girls"
This is a hold-over disappointment from last season. I am astonished this sh*t show is still on the air. The effervescence of the leads cannot distract from the stale jokes, out-moded racial stereotypes and grating word "play." Dennings is better, so much better than this. In fact, after Chris Hemsworth's obliques, she was my favorite part of Thor. More cute movies, please, Kat. Less of whatever this is.

7. Chris Messina -- "The Mindy Project"
I wanted to like "The Mindy Project," I wanted to with every bit of my Bridget Jones-loving heart. But the lead character is so grating, so hapless and so devoid of the redemptive qualities that would make those "quirks" endearing, that I find myself constantly irritated. It's sad enough seeing Kaling on this show (I'm a huge fan of hers, usually), but Chris Messina was enjoying a goddamned meteoric climb this year. Smarmily great in "The Newsroom," delightful in Ruby Sparks, one of the cool kids in Argo and, now, crotchety but obviously inevitable love interest for Mindy Kaling? The new Nick? No, no sir. You were the only good part of the Amy Adams half of Julie and Julia. You are better than this. Fingers crossed this show doesn't survive the year.

6. Ted Danson--"CSI"
Even if, by some bizarre quirk of the universe, you'd never seen him in a single episode of "Cheers," Ted Danson has, more recently, done some excellent TV work. The first season of "Damages" is a near-perfect thing and as its major antoginist, Arthur Frobisher, Danson is divine in his own right and managed to hold his own against Glenn Close. Not bad, Sam Malone. Danson was similarly delightful on "Bored To Death." And now he's helming the 13th (THIRTEENTH) season of one of TV's most tired procedurals? Ted Danson is a fine human being, a humanitarian an oceanatarian, and a family man. He's also a talented performer. I'll choose to remember fonder, less Helgenberger-y times.

5. Connie Britton -- "Nashville"
I tried. Lord knows I tried. And the only damn reason I tried is because of my enduring love for Tami Taylor. But listen, the last episode of "Nashville" I tried to watch, I found myself fast forwarding through the Connie Britton scenes. Fast forwarding Tami Taylor? Hell yes, y'all. This woman, who somehow managed to come out all the gimp-f*cking in last season's insane "American Horror Story" unsmirched, has been brought down by sparkly mini-dresses and over-processed twang. I weep.

5. Lily Tomlin -- "Malibu Country"
National f*cking treasure Lily Tomlin is playing second fiddle to Reba McEntire on a tired, worn out sitcom that belongs on Lifetime or ABC Family. Not on the gotdamn networks. Sassy granny you may be, Lily Tomlin, but Cloris Leachman on "Raising Hope" this ain't.

3. Giancarlo Eposito -- "Revolution"
GE Rev.jpg
One of the most menacing smiles in recent memory? On of the most unforgettable character exits of all-time? An Emmy nomination that you could only lose to someone else in your cast? COME ON, ESPOSITO. They have you looking like some deranged escapee from the Land of Oz. You're too good for this. Do not, I repeat, do not lower yourself to cross swords with Billy Burke again.

2. Catherine Tate -- "The Office"
Say what you will about Catherine Tate (and I'll say that she's my favorite "Doctor Who" companion), the woman has both sterling comedic timing and surprisingly impressive dramatic chops. You wouldn't know that from her stint on "The Office." A love interest for Toby? Honestly? You were the "Doctor Donna," man. THE OOD SANG FOR YOU. I'm so glad we only have a half a season left.

1. Kate Hudson -- "Glee"
Okay, fine, you're not watching "Glee." Bully for you. That is as it bloody well should be. But what you're missing is one of the most bafflingly, enjoyably, terribly astonishing displays from a one-time Oscar-nominee. Yeah Kate Hudson hasn't done anything of note for over a decade, but she's forever Penny Lane to me and this...thing...she's doing as the main antagonist on "Glee?" It's upsetting. More upsetting than an entire season of "Smash." And that's saying a lot.

Yeah you better cry, Hudson.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • John W

    Not a bad show but for me it was Kelly McDonald in Boardwalk Empire. At least for this season every time she came on the screen it was like someone pulling the emergency brake on a train.

  • $27019454

    Chris Messina was the Julie and Julia husband who ate with his hands and chewed with his mouth open and LOUD like a slack-jawed neanderthal. I think he even drooled. God I hated him. He was one of the worst things about that entire half of that half-good movie. So I loathe him forever.

    That's all I got.

  • BlackRabbit

    I've never seen an episode of "Revoltings" or whatever it was called, but that is one fine looking coat Mr. Esposito is wearing up there, you must admit.

  • ,

    "Ted Danson is a fine human being"

    Guess we've forgiven the blackface routine, huh?

  • duckandcover

    Thank you. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest reading this article. Every single one of these performances -- even the ones I haven't seen -- had me like, "What -- what -- what are you doing?" I'm glad someone else sees Two Broke Girls as shit, because Tumblr loves it (I'm guessing for its 'hilarious' quote gifs) and it seriously sucks.

  • Buck Forty

    How long did the Israeli show 'Homeland' is based on run for? Is the reason Homeland is jumping he shark because the network is trying to stretch out a 'hit' show? If your story is only good for two seasons then don't try and stretch it out for 3 or 4. Learn from Lost...

  • catagisreading

    I have Catherine Tate related tourettes, everytime I hear her name I wince and say 'God I fucking hate her, she ruined Dr Who'.
    I am compelled to speak this truth till others see it. Seriously, she's a nightmare.

  • duckandcover

    No one ruins the longest standing sci-fi show in the world. There are slow points, but in all honesty, if you watch the new companions back-to-back, they're all compelling. Rose is a gem, Martha comes into her own, and Donna finds her self-worth (and, as a cruel joke, must forget it in order to keep her sanity). I think Rory and Amy are the dragging bumper of this vehicle, but they're delightful in their own different way.

  • zeke_the_pig

    I think it's becoming more and more clear as time goes on that Penny Lane was a fluke astronomical oddity that somehow managed to channel its way through Kate Hudson. She had nowt to do with it.

  • featherinahat

    Yeah, cause actors have unlimited roles to choose from, and they just pick the crappiest ones to piss you off.

  • dizzylucy

    I was sad when Giancarlo showed up in a terrible role on Once Upon A Time (which I finally just quit) and then even more so on Revolution - even the promise of him, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Johnny Crowder on the same show couldn't make me stick around.
    I don't mind Nashville that much, and Mindy's show is growing on me, but yeah, the rest I'm in totally agreement with.

  • JB

    Soooo, guess I'm the only one who finds the mindy project amusing...sad tear. Liked kaling's book too. Her character is horrible and grating but thought that was the point? The English obgyn is terrible, though. Just terrible. I thought the ep with what's-his-face from the league as the mid-wife was pretty darn funny.

  • Mr_Zito

    I agree on every one of those. 2 Broke Girls is the most annying show on TV, and one of the reasons is that it actually has a good actress as the lead. I hadn't even realised she was the nerdy girl from Thor (and I agree with you she was one of the best parts of that movie), but now I'm even angrier that this show is the success it is. It's stupid, offensive and a criminal waste of talent.

  • Bdog

    I have to disagree about Kate Hudson (yes, I still watch Glee), she's been one of the best things this season. I think playing a bitch agrees with her, and she is a good singer/dancer-her performance in Nine was the best thing in that movie.

  • kilmo

    Disagree with Kate Hudson. She is fantastic on 'Glee' and I keep wanting her to show up so she can put Rachel in her place.

    An aside: I think Hudson half took the part so she could show off her post baby bod, because DAYUM. Her song and dance sequences are the only ones I've gotten excited about these days.

    Cringe worthy would be Sarah Jessica Parker on 'Glee.' Her character, a VOGUE editor is hanging out with barely out of high school kids. As much as Kurt is awesome, just no.

    Sigh I can't quit 'Glee,' it's my HIMYM for rest of you.

  • John G.

    " Fast forwarding Tami Taylor? Hell yes, y’all. This woman, who somehow managed to come out all the gimp-f*cking in last season’s insane “American Horror Story” unsmirched "

    um...... no comment.

  • chanohack

    I hate Kate Hudson less in that pic than pouty fucking Rachel Berry in her pouty fucking beret. I would watch that show if it didn't kiss Rachel's ass so hard.

  • Bodhi

    I love my husband very much, but he thinks that 2 Broke Girls is HILARIOUS. He has really good taste in comedy, so I'm chalking it up at a fluke (or Kat's bewbs)

  • FireLizardQueen

    But...but...the music on Nashville is so good! I must support Connie and the music. I can't help but watch.

    Also, Glee and Mindy Project are two shows I watch each week and always hate but for some reason I keep hoping they'll get better so I keep going back.I have an abusive relationship with those shows.

  • Devin McMusters

    Connie Britton is soooo fab on Nashville.

  • Tinkerville

    Thank you for also not liking The Mindy Project and the horrific character that she plays. I tried sticking with it but it was like nails on a chalkboard.

  • ,

    I used that metaphor recently, and then realized most people under 30 or so would have no idea what that means. Nobody cringes at fingernails on a whiteboard. Gonna have to use "like squeaking a balloon" or something.

  • Tinkerville

    That makes me feel very old. Like screeching brakes? Like whistling tea kettles? Like Donald Duck inhaling helium? I don't really use whiteboards..

  • Bedewcrock

    Right? It just isn't funny. I'm a fan of Mindy Kaling but I didn't find her book or this show very funny. But I'm still loyal. Still loyal to her.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Giancarlo Esposito is this list.

    More importantly, Arrow is not good. I watch it, but it is not good. But the fact that you listed it as one of the two good new shows is kinda NO. Veep, Newsroom, Don't trust the B, Girls...

  • @lowercase_ryan - More importantly, Arrow is not good. I watch it, but it is not good.

    I think, more importantly, why do you watch that which is not good?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I watch it when I get bored at work. Don't get me wrong, it has potential. The writing is bad but the archery stuff is cool. It's entertaining fluff. But it can be very, very bad.

    Have you never watched something that you knew was shit but you watched it anyways?

  • I hear you. There is some value in that, but I often wonder about the context and circumstances in which people embrace this, viewing something they know isn't great, but it meets some primal need.

  • ,

    My question too. I read people on here say they stick with a show that sucks and I ask myself, Who has that much time to waste? A good nap would be more productive.

  • Leelee

    I do exactly the same thing with Arrow. I swear each week that if it doesn't pull up it's socks and impress me then it's getting shitcanned. Then it shows JUST enough potential to make me give it one more episode, even though I'm not actually enjoying watching 80% of it.
    (The 20% I enjoy contains the gratuitous shirtless fighting... I can't help myself).

  • JoannaRobinson

    Fall shows, Ryan. And I haven't watched it yet, I just had a lot of people tell me it was good. But maybe they meant "good for The CW," which is a different category entirely.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Did you just add "Fall" to that first sentence? I would have if I were you and I left it out. But the Arrow thing, it's bad even for the CW, but then they tease you with 30 seconds of John Barrowman and you just want so much more but you know it can never deliver. *le sigh*

  • Blake

    NO TED MOSEBY / Josh Radnor? Or has he been retired to the "Cringe-Worthy" TV Performance H.O.F?

  • Blake

    Also NO Senor Chang / Ken Jeong? I know Community ended in May but Chang had more than a few Cringe-Worthy moments.

  • Bert_McGurt

    No, Joanna just doesn't like him very much.

  • Michelle

    Does ANYONE watch HIMYM for Ted any longer? I was fairly certain that the barely tolerable Lily/Marshall and Robin/Barney stuff was the only reason people watched. I HATE TED.

  • MissAmynae

    Watching HIMYM for Ted is akin to watching "Friends" for Ross. Or "Joey" for anyone.

  • lubeg

    I can't vote for this enough.

    Ted is an AWFUL person. I'm beyond ranting about him, at this point. He is absolutely the worst person in television history. I just watched last season on NetFlix and much as I like Victoria I have to freaking HATE her now, too. Because BOY IS SHE DUMB.

  • in_heaben

    Did anyone ever watch for Ted?

  • KatSings

    Kat Dennings is my spirit animal. I love her. And the fact that she has a curvy body, deeper voice, and dry, sarcastic demeanor like me. She gives me hope I can actually ever get cast in anything. And that terrible show is one of my guilty pleasures because I love her and Jennifer Coolidge so much. But I'd rather she was doing better things.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Holy shit Jennifer Coolidge is on that show, too?

  • KatSings
  • BierceAmbrose

    So, the brought back Perfect Strangers, with less comedy and more boobs?


  • Three_nineteen

    DO NOT DISRESPECT PERFECT STRANGERS!, disrespect it all you want. It will still be better than the travesty that is 2 Broke Girls.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, yeah. Anything would be better than 2 Broke Girls - botched lobotomy, new Coke, line dancing.

    Weirdly that clip sent me back to PS. There's plenty of wooden, obvious blocking in so-called situation comedies. PS was a whole other level of obvious mechanics. Laugh track abuse is rampant in the genre, and I use the term loosely. PS was so over the top insistent. "Stranger out of water reacts to some weirdness we just accept" is one of the lamer recurring episode devices in episodic TV. It was kind of the whole game in PS, and looks to be in this newer dreck.

    And here's the thing. PS was tolerable, and even kind of endearing despite it's appalling lack of on-screen boobage. The leads seemed to like each other, and were having fun with it.

    2 Broke Girls looks like pretty people doing homework. Even the boobs can't save it.

  • Groundloop

    Wow. I gave up on "Two Broke Girls" around episode 4 of season 1. I'd forgotten how bad it is. After a day of shooting, how long do they have to shower to wash the awful away?

  • Oh...oh dear godtopus. Sweet mother of fuck is that representative of the show? That was painful.

    I mean, yeah, I've heard you guys panning the hell out of this show since it was reviewed, but....I...I just didn't understand.

  • e jerry powell

    i believe it goes something like "what a FUCKING LIBERTY."

    Am I bovvered?


  • TheOtherGreg

    "so grating, so hapless and so devoid of ... redemptive qualities" is my opinion of the entire cast of "Girls". Love the writing, the directing, and the acting. Hate every single character.

  • Jezzer

    Afuckingmen. I don't like hanging out with people I hate. This is why I don't go to family functions, and why I stopped watching "Girls."

  • nosio

    I almost forgot how beautiful Kate Hudson is/used to be until I saw the last gif.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Ted Danson is a fine human being, a humanitarian an oceanatarian, and a family man.

    And your personal friend for the last mumble mumble years... (Oooooh, new CSI theme song - "Bye, bye life...")

    Seriously, CSI Las Vegas musical episode, choreographed Fosse-style. Dissection with jazz-hands. Showgirl(s) dancers! Gust stars NPH & HugeAckman as The Specialists From Elsewhere (filling the Spock exposition role) with blue-gloved hands. The Blue Man Group as the red herring. Danson dancin' in a bowler hat, singing "I should be dancin' (woo.)"

    I demand this happen right now.

  • Stephen Nein

    Damn, I got to get what you're imbibing.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Looks like I picked the right day to quite my meds.

  • WestCoastPat

    I am with you on a few of these, specifically Chris Messina and Connie Britton. Not having seen some of the shows, I can't comment on Lily Tomlin or Giancarlo Eposito (and I found Tate grating on Who, so no disappointment there).

    On Kate Hudson, I have to disagree. I love Almost Famous, but the lesson of that film is illustrating the difference between a great role and a great actress. Husdon was fantastic as Penny Lane, but she is not a great (or even good) actress and never will be. Fortunately for all of us, she managed to shine that one time.

  • Pat

    Agreed on Hudson. I too mourned that her Penny Lane-ness didn't survive that movie, but I think we should finally accept that she was never a good actress.

  • Penny Lane was great, I'm immune to Kate.

    [Put that to music and dance to it.]

  • Ozioma

    ....I literally just did the Distasteful Kermit Face when I read that last part. Kate...Kate, why?

  • Maguita NYC

    I think it is time to realize, with great sadness and bitter disappointment, that Penny Lane was a lovely endearing fluke.

    Kate's "body of work" reads more like JLo's (which btw in that 3rd-from-bottom pic she is definitely morphing into), rather than Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren's.

  • e jerry powell

    Kate is living out her mommy's musical theatre legacy.

  • "You were the “Doctor Donna,” man. THE OOD SANG FOR YOU. I’m so glad we only have a half a season left. "

    This is why I love you, Pajiba. Your Whovian quips are on a similar level to those of myself and my closest companions. Never change.

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