Weekend Roundtable: Hate-Watching TV

This week’s Roundtable was inspired by a couple of TV shows currently on the air. Have you ever found yourself hate-watching a show just so that you could complain about it afterwards, or at least so that you’ll understand what other people are complaining about? We sure have.

Shannon Nutt

For those of you who follow my recaps in this blog, you probably already know I’m less than thrilled with CBS’s ‘Under the Dome‘, but since I’ve made a commitment to blog about it, I still sit through every episode.

Another show I haven’t learned to quit is HBO’s ‘True Blood‘. In my opinion, this series hasn’t been any good since at least Season 3, and you’ll find some people who argue that it hasn’t been any good since its first season. The problem is that each season has tried to top itself with more and more mythical creatures. Where we once had a show about just vampires, as of last season we had a show about vampires, shape-shifters, faeries, witches, werewolves and even a were-panther in there somewhere.

I must confess that the only reason I’ve kept on watching over the years is because I hoped the show would get better. It never did. This final season promised a return to the show’s roots, which has basically amounted to, “We’re going to kill off as many characters as we can in one season.” I’m now of the opinion that the only good ending for this series is if every character dies before the end of the finale. I wouldn’t shed one tear.

Aaron Peck

The Killing‘ isn’t dead yet. Netflix picked the series up for another season. So, just to keep score: It ran for two seasons, was canceled. Then AMC brought it back for a third season at the last minute, only to cancel it again. Then Netflix picked it up for a fourth season.

All the while, I’ve hate-watched it more than any other show on television. There’s something about the show’s overt dreariness, its insistence that Seattle rains more than the Amazon, and the tenuous unspoken love affair between detectives Holder and Linden that keeps me coming back. I just can’t quit it, no matter what I do. Now, Netflix has announced that Season 4 will harness premium cable-type language and content. How can I not watch? At least with Netflix I’ll be able to bang the episodes out in a hate-watch binge session, instead of stringing it out week after week.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I was genuinely into ‘Heroes‘ for most of its first season. I’m not saying that the first run of episodes was wall-to-wall incandescent brilliance or anything, but it scratched a live-action, heavily serialized comic book itch I didn’t even know I had. ‘Heroes’ may not have been great, but it was at least good enough.

It’s just that those early episodes kept seeming like they were building and building to some jaw-dropping battle royale climax, and then… nope. Instead of a colossal, two-page-spread of a super-powered throw-down, the whole thing just fizzled out. That freshman season went out not with a bang but a whimper. All that sound and fury signifying nothing. I can keep rattling off quotes like that, but you get the idea.

Still, there was enough I dug about those early episodes to keep me onboard and hopeful for Season Two. There were scattered highlights that year – or, okay, maybe just Kristen Bell as the only person on the bill who looked to be having any fun — but it was pretty clear that the writers didn’t have more than a cocktail napkin-length sketch of the season as a whole. Not only did they have absolutely no idea what to do with the small army of returning characters, but they introduced a slew of new ones to waste. (I’m looking at you, Maya and Alejandro!)

If you felt like being generous, maybe you could excuse the general disastrousness of Season Two on the 2007 Writers’ Strike. I don’t know how you grade the last two seasons on any sort of curve, though. This is a series where NBC’s marketing revolved around the idea of “No, wait, we know Heroes was abysmal for a while there, but give it another shot! It’s good again!” Only it never really was. An insistence on repeating itself at every turn, too eagerly mashing the reset button, shattering established characterization whenever it seemed like it’d play better with the plot-of-the-week, tin-eared and overbearingly expository dialogue, superhero-versus-supervillain battles that were almost always someone getting flung into a wall… Aargh! Still, I doggedly tuned in every week and even sought out the season sets on Blu-ray, mostly so that I could snark endlessly about them in reviews and on message boards. Was it worth it? You tell me.

Brian Hoss

There are plenty of shows I hate, but I can rarely maintain hate-watching, especially for a show that nosedives. Two important exceptions I can recall were ‘Star Trek: Voyager‘ and ‘Seven Days‘. Back when the internet was a lot less ubiquitous, these were both great shows to watch, observe the writing fail, and then talk about with friends who also watched with low expectations.

‘Seven Days’ always hinged on its seven-days time travel premise. You just had to wait for it to play out. For ‘Voyager’, it was always Gel packs, Delta Flyer, Tom Paris’ holodeck hot rod, holo-doctor gone crazy, “Janeway’s farewell,” or time-traveling Borg. You knew the show was trying, but was set up to fail. (Thanks, Rick Berman.) Either I’m less naive now, or as it seems like shows these days such as ‘NCIS’ and ‘Haven’ have embraced being intentionally bad with a wink-wink, which makes them too sickening for me to watch at all.

Luke Hickman

I don’t have time for crap TV. Especially crap that airs week after week. I simply can’t do it. With three kids, a part-time morning radio job, a full-time day job that keeps me extremely busy, and a night filled with press screenings, I can hardly fit in the shows that I want to watch, let alone those that I’d watch just to hate on.

I’ve never hate-watched a series. Life has always been too busy for me. Now, I’ve watched plenty of other shows that other people love to hate (‘Lost’ probably being the most notorious), but I actually loved it from A to Z. I’ve watched shows that would eventually turn into something hate-worthy, like the U.S .version of ‘The Office’, but I quit watching once it jumped the shark. (Or, as I like to say in regards to ‘The Office’, once the GPS drove them into a lake.)

If any show looks promising, I’ll give it a shot. I gave ‘Mad Men’ seven episodes before realizing that I’d been bored the whole time. I watched that whole lengthy ‘Battlestar Galactica’ mini-movie kick-off thing just to see if I’d like it – which I didn’t. ‘Under the Dome’? No thanks. I made it one episode in and gave up. ‘Revolution’ got an episode-and-a-half out of me before I fell asleep, which is a sure sign of a no-watcher. There’s just too much good stuff out there to see, so why waste time on something completely unworthy?

Junie Ray

I’m not sure what exactly compelled me to start watching the first season of ‘Temptation Island‘. I’d never gotten into the ‘Survivor’ madness and somehow this lighter fair sounded good. A few episodes in, I realized it was completely awful. Remember when ‘The Real World’ changed its format to primarily cover hook-ups in hot tubs? That was when I stopped watching that one, yet now I was sucked into something similar but far worse with ridiculous scenarios and cruel producers who tortured contestants. Still, I needed to see what happened. I hate-watched the whole first season and probably half of the second. Come to think of it, there have been a few other of these Reality shows that I hate-watched: ‘Joe Millionaire’, ‘Tila Tequila’, ‘The Surreal House’.

If I’m being honest, I started out hate-watching ‘Surreal House’, but really enjoyed quite a bit of that ridiculousness. Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen, Tammy Faye, Christopher Knight… It was good entertainment. I’m not proud.

Josh Zyber

Most hate-watching stems from TV shows that started off being good, but then either outright jumped-the-shark or at least dwindled off into irrelevance. Once I’ve invested a certain amount of time in a show, I feel committed to seeing it through to the end. I think most fans can acknowledge that ‘The X-Files‘ peaked in Season 5, and everything after that point was a downhill slide. The final season (the ninth!) was just painful to watch. The show ret-conned its narrative so many times that nothing about its central mythology made any sense at all. Yet there I was, week after week, watching through to the bitter end hoping for a final payoff that would tie everything together. It never came. The series finale was the worst two hours of television I’ve ever sat through.

Other once-great shows that I was forced to hate-watch after they turned bad include ‘Nip/Tuck’, ‘Alias’, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ’24’. (I know that Shannon was a big fan of this past season, but I hate-watched most of it.)

Mrs. Z has also asked me to toss in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for her.

What TV shows have you hate-watched long after you stopped liking them? Tell us in the Comments.

14 comments

  1. Glad to see Seven Days get some love/hate. Whens this show gonna pop up on Netflix? I remember watching it as a young lad and loving the ridiculousness of it. I feel like when I just got to college, Spike had acquired the syndication rights and I watched some episodes but I’d really like to have them all at my finger tips so I can binge through them and come to a well informed decision on whether or not the show is good or just nostalgic garbage that I’ll never be able to totally hate.

    • Yeah, I gave up it ever coming to video a few years ago. I made a DVD box set from VHS to DVD versions for a friend’s wedding gift. I made case art and LightScribed the discs, but the best part was writing the description for the back cover. Here’s an excerpt:
      “And that my friends is the core of project Backstep. Straddling such timeless and culturally relevant issues as failed Soviet technology, Mogadishu POWs, Roswell and Area 51 and Soviet Roswell and Soviet Area 51. Soviet Roswell and Soviet Area 51 are just their American counterparts but more off brandesque. This roundtable of cultural id allows a lone Cosmonaut to time travel (Backstep;) 7 Days. Of course it takes several days of research (guessing and watching the news) to prepare to Backstep, and it always winds up being a random place and time anyways, but still it is not Quantum Leappy…”

  2. This one’s easy for me. The Walking Dead is one of my least favorite shows I’ve ever seen, but I keep watching so I can better articulate my disdain for it. I despise every character except for aybe two. So little happens in the show, which isn’t bad if the character development fills the gaps in plot points. It doesn’t. This last season had one pretty good episode with the little girls, but they destroyed all hope of pursuing a potentially awesome storyline. Argh! I will never understand the fervor behind this show. I can only speculate that it takes a mindless zombie to love it THAT much.

  3. My pick is True Blood. It started as a very addictive show but now it’s just a ridiculous mess. Still, since it’s in its last season, I continue watching it even though every episode is just stupid.

  4. Chris B

    I absolutely loved The Walking Dead for the first two seasons and I absolutely loathe it now. Maybe it was the departure of Frank Darabont midway through season two, I’m not really sure what happenned but I think it’s become a total mess. Dull, unlikeable, uninteresting characters who just kill zombies in ever increasingly brutal ways. I’ve actually started referring to it as “gore-porn” because it’s clearly what the show has been reduced to. There’s no hope, humor, sense of adventure etc. No redeeming qualities or payoff for me as a viewer. I find a good test of a show is to ask oneself the question : “do I feel better or worse after watching this?”. I ALWAYS feel worse…but the wife is hanging in there so I’m just along for the ride…and bitching about the show the entire time.

    Oh, and I also hate “Glee” with a passion, but again the wife likes it…so I shrug and endure.

  5. Deaditelord

    My pick would be House. I actually enjoyed the show all the way up to the season 7, but then the show abruptly ditches House’s relationship with Cuddy (I’m assuming because Lisa Edelstein was leaving the show?) and the remainder of the season was just painful to watch. I finally gave up when House drives the car through Cuddy’s house. It was the series’ jump the shark moment as far as I was concerned.

  6. I got to the final season of How I Met Your Mother and couldn’t take it any more after the first few episodes. Definitely a few seasons too many, from loving it I simply didn’t care about the characters any more. Another show which maybe TV blasphemy to say is The Wire. Have tried four times tk watch it and can never get past the second season. Definitely agree about the XFiles. Watching them back on DVD again and again I usually stop after the first movie although there are a few gems in later seasons.

    • It’s been a while, but I remember not liking Season 2 of The Wire. I think Season 3 is when Omar starts to really shine and the show as a whole gets better.
      I wasn’t expecting such a realistic portrayal of police and detective work when I started the show. When things took a lot longer to happen because of paperwork at first I was annoyed, but I grew to really appreciate the attention to detail.
      It’s not for everyone, but I recommend getting through that second season.

  7. Paul J Anderson

    I hate to admit this, but I am still watching “Revenge” on ABC. I started watching it because I needed a new show at the time and nothing seemed to tickle my fancy, so I gave it a shot. The first season seemed to have promise, as they teased us with a mid season flash during the first episode and then started from the beginning. It kept me interested for awhile, but then they kept introducing even more ridiculous plot lines. It is now a horrific train wreck. Normally I would have jumped ship, but I kept watching for some unknown reason and haven’t stopped. Something about not being able to take my eyes off the horror show unfolding in front of me….

  8. I will say that I absolutely refuse to watch anything deemed “Reality Tv” because it is all shit and everything but reality. I’m not going to mentioned shows, people or tv networks because then I would be talking about those fakes and giving them publicity.

    But for watching something just to say how bad it is? No current shows, but in the past:
    How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family. I tried to finish Blue Bloods a time or two, totally can’t do it!

  9. William Henley

    American Idol for about 3 years.

    Also was going to Hate-Watch Dance Moms, and ended up actually liking the show.

    I hate watched a couple of episodes of Toddlers and Tiarras, but I usually cannot stand more than 5-10 minutes of that show. I don’t know who is worse, the kids or their moms.

  10. Don’t understand people watching things they hate. I only watch things I want to, in fact I watch NO live TV at all. With the amount of things we can watch, why would you ever waste time on something you actually don’t like?

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