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The Ten Worst Television Shows of the Aughts

By The Pajiba Staff | Lists | December 3, 2009 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Lists | December 3, 2009 |

10. Hey Paula: Watching the spectacle of “Hey Paula” unfold is every bit the confusing and delightful train wreck you’d no doubt expect it to be. We move along to the ill-fated “Idol” satellite publicity tour, and — much like Titanic — we all know how that ends. Messy and fucking horrific — with a big helping of the weepy jags. Unless you failed to turn on a computer throughout the entire month of January, it was hard to miss the smattering of Internet videos of Paula bombing interviews like a kamikaze in a Kubrick film, thereby capturing her crazy inebriated behavior for immortal YouTube posterity. Forever Your Girl, indeed. — Stacey Nosek

9. Britney and Kevin: Chaotic: The expression in Britney Spears’ bodyguard’s face pretty much sums it up, in this clip from the show:

8. Joey: Quality-wise, perhaps “Joey” isn’t as bad as some of the other shows on this list, but given the way that NBC took one of its most popular “Friends” characters, moved him to a new city, created an entire new situation around him, and basically ruined a perfectly decent comedic foil by turning him into a leading man, the boneheaded quotient worked its way into this ranking. It was a horrible show — flat, lame dialogue; ear-piercing laugh track; unconvincing situations; and seriously weak secondary characters. “Joey” represented an even steeper drop-off to the quality of “Friends” in its waning years — and a once good supporting character was turned into a grating caricature of his own “Friends” caricature. We get it. Joey liked sandwiches.

(You could just as well add any of the other Thursday night “Must See” stop gap shows into this slot, as well (“Inside Schwartz,” “Cursed,” “The Weber Show,” “Leap of Faith,” “Four Kings,” and “Good Morning, Miami”), if only because the theory of television relativity commands it.) — Dustin Rowles

7. Living Lohan: This show is so awful and painful to watch it should be flat out against the law. Saying that Dina Lohan is a “bad” mother is like saying that George W. Bush is a “bad” president. Not that it’s not true, mind you, but grossly understated when there are far more apt descriptors like vindictive, conniving, manipulative, incompetent, irresponsible, exploitative, and just plain fucking stupid, which coincidentally can all be used to characterize either Bush or Lohan. And not totally unlike the president, Dina Lohan also indignantly vows to protect and defend her daughters from the corruptions of society despite being the primary fucking reason those corruptions exist in the first place. It’s a mind-numbing, catch-22 situation, and unfortunately the big losers here are her clearly misguided offspring. — Stacey Nosek

6. According to Jim: The real shame is that, while other, more deserving shows get the early axe, it’s “According to Jim” that lives on, like a television cockroach. You throw it into the toilet and it just crawls back out, more shit encrusted and emboldened than before. “According to Jim,” neither relies on a viewer’s patience or intelligence. It’s a cheap, disposable placeholder with fairly familiar faces and plotlines that have been recycled since the ’70s, tied up with a neat little moral lesson. Moral lessons work when you give a shit about the characters, when they’re someone you want to emulate. They don’t work when every character on a show is a loathsome, vile tub of gooey retardation. I want to throw feral cats at all of them. — Dustin Rowles

5. Knight Rider: I watched the initial two-hour backdoor pilot of “Knight Rider” knowing it would be bad. And indeed it was. Nevertheless, I also found myself watching the fall premiere of the show. Again, I knew it would suck. But I thought it might not be so heinous that it couldn’t be background noise while at work. Boy was I wrong. At nine minutes in, I had to shut my SlingPlayer software down because I think my computer was getting stupider just for having “Knight Rider” stream through it. I mean, in those nine minutes, Kitt (voiced by the sounds-like-he’s-heavily-dosed-with-Valium Kilmer) fucking transformed twice. Transformed. Like a shitty Michael Bay transformer. Into an attack mode car and into a truck. And we got a bad “CSI”-style glimpse into Kitt’s inner workings in order to see how he/it achieves Turbo Jump. And there was the bad acting. And the bad dialogue. And the bad effects. And bad action. And oh dear god the bad acting. — Seth Freilich

4. Tyler Perry’s House of Payne: A boisterous laugh track; a collection of terrible stereotypes; a “baby-daddy” joke a minute; and barely a premise to speak of (three generations of an African American family live together; hijinx ensue). “House of Payne” wishes it were awful — that would be a compliment. There’s some aborted roadkill knee-deep in a landfill somewhere in Jersey — “House of Payne” is the meconium of that fetus, smeared in battery acid, and flung against a television screen. And those are the better episodes. — Dustin Rowles

3. American Idol: No more karaoke bar/lounge singer/wedding singer analogies. No more flat renditions of “I Have Nothing,” or “I’m Every Woman,” or “Inside Your Heaven.” No more “keepin’ it real,” or “Dawgs,” or “make it your owns.” No more watching the scripted tussles between Ryan and Simon or the mildly homophobic barbs they exchanged. No more two-hour spectacles, replete with Smokey Robinson, self-aggrandizement, balloons, and Coke commercials. No more watching contestants flash numbers with their fingers like a four-year-old telling you his age. No more beat boxing. No more soul patrol. No more McPheever. No more impossibly cheesy Ford music videos. No more washed-up Bee Gees or reconstituted Herman’s Hermits. No more cutaways to C-list celebrities in the audience hyping the next Fox television travesty or weeping to Bette Midler numbers. No more season-long makeovers, watching a contestant’s actual personality die a little each week. No more keys to the city or small-town mayors naming streets, not after important historic figures, but after people in a singing competition. No more fucking “American Idol.” — Dustin Rowles

2. Cavemen: There are many things that do not work with this show. But the biggest problem with “Cavemen” is that, despite the fact that it features Cavemen, it’s absolutely no different from any generic male buddy comedy. These are four meathead guys, and we’re supposed to laugh at their work foibles, and their dating foibles, and their at-home foibles, etc. Yes, they’re Cavemen, and the writers forcibly work this point in again and again. But you could take the stupid caveman makeup off these guys, and make them black or Latino, and the show would be entirely unchanged. If “Cavemen” is the evolution of comedy, it’s no wonder so many in this country don’t believe in evolution. — Seth Freilich

1. My Super Sweet 16: For the uninitiated, “My Super Sweet 16,” in a nutshell, is basically what’s wrong with the youth of America. It’s not bad enough that these spoiled, bubbly-letter princesses expect to be thrown lavish birthday parties, but the douchedads and trollop moms are so goddamn smug and amenable that it’s them you want to take out behind the woodshed and unleash a bag of switches upon. What’s worse, at least in my mind, is the number of idiot hangers-on who choose to cling to the birthday girls, and the acne-addled dejected who aren’t even cool enough to be contrarian about it. In the hellish world of “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” everyone wants to be like the birthday girl; there are no gothy counter-culture cliques or punk-rock kids who might reject the mentality behind these parties. There are only the haves — who demand, and cajole, and sulk, and squeal like brats with silver spoons shoved into their alimentary canals — and the slavering have-nots, the truly pathetic who actually aspire to be like them. — Dustin Rowles

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.