You know what a hate watch is, right? It’s 2013, of course you do. It differs from a guilty pleasure like, say, “The Vampire Diaries.” That show never aspired to greatness. Never had the potential to be anything other than it is: frothy, soapy, stupid fun. You also shouldn’t hate watch something you despise through and through. “Whitney,” to me, is like the TV version of ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife to stab the rictus right off Cummings’ face. Ahem, so as I was saying, a hate watch shouldn’t stir your blood lust, it should just make you want to kick things a little. Soft, yielding things. And it should be fun. Your cries of “DAMNIT, TED,” or “SHUT THE F*CK UP, SOOKIE” should give you a little thrill of joy. Not pain. And for those of you who say life’s too short to hate watch don’t understand that it makes everything else look so much better by comparison. So here are 9 shows that were once great, or aspired to greatness but never quite had greatness thrust upon them.
“Glee”: We can all agree that most of Season 1 was pretty f*cking solid. The sharp and snarky high school satire was amply peppered with fun musical bits. But as the characters became more and more inconsistent and unbearable, as plot lines were picked up and abandoned and as the musical numbers were autotuned to hell and back, the whole thing became a hot mess. What’s still enjoyable? Kate Hudson’s Leotard Ke$ha, Sarah Jessica Parker’s massively weird fashion editor and that kid Blaine (who sings like an angel).
“How I Met Your Mother”: Lo how the mighty have fallen. This show suffers from a premise stretched to the absolute breaking point and an enraging protagonist. Oh please, for the love of god, shut the f*ck up, Ted.
“Newsroom”: Your mileage may vary on Sorkin, but I love him and his bloviating, condescending ways. Can’t turn a blind eye to the weakness of a lot of the female characters, though. So it’s a love tinged with disgust. The best kind.
“Once Upon A Time”: There is so much sloppy, mawkish, wtf*ckery going on in this show. At the same time, it’s where many of Pajiba’s most beloved TV writers have chosen to focus their energy. Jane Espenson, you’re better than this! Much of the frustration with “OUAT” comes from thinking about what could have been, if the focus had been more “Fables”-inspired and less terrible CGI and melodrama.
“Grey’s Anatomy”: Why is anyone still watching this show as it lurches along into its 9th season? Two words: Sandra Oh. And also the vindictive pleasure of seeing characters meet a grisly end season finale after season finale. I mean, c’mon, look at that weeping chipmunk. How can you resist?
“Smash”: After a bizarre and terrible first season, this show is back with another polished singer, Jennifer Hudson. Why watch at all? The musical numbers are pretty good and there’s a delicious satisfaction in watching Anjelica Huston toss a drink in someone’s face. Rumor has it the whole show formula has been rejiggered for Season 2, but if they expect me to swallow the idea that McPhee is better than Hudson (let alone Hilty), they’ve got another think coming.
“True Blood”: What differentiates this from “The Vampire Diaries”? The showrunner, Alan Ball. Yeah it’s soapy and slippery and has way too many characters and an obnoxious female lead and with an even more obnoxious male lead. But it also has Vampire Pam. And for that we are eternally grateful.
“Nashville”: This is verging on pure hate, but I’m still hanging on to watch the hemlines on Hayden Panettiere’s dresses get ever shorter, to wait for the occasional pieces of music that don’t blow and for Connie Britton and her shiny shiny hair.
“Downton Abbey”: Don’t you even DARE yell at me for including this. Do I love “Downton”? I do. All praise Maggie Smith. Is it a melodramatic mess? It very much is. They character assassinated Bates, Elizabeth McGovern can’t act her way out of a hat box, Lady Mary cured Matthew’s broken penis with her TEARS. With her tears, people. I can’t quit this show, but I also can’t praise the writing staff. Come at me if you will, I’ll have my most withering Lady Mary eye roll at the ready.