The 16 worst HBO shows, according to critics

Throughout its history of original programming, HBO has delivered some of the greatest TV shows of all time, including “The Wire,” “Deadwood,” and “The Sopranos.”

But with every string of success comes at least some failure. Although HBO hasn’t made nearly as many terrible shows as networks like CBS, NBC and ABC in the long run, it’s certainly released quite a few stinkers.

But which HBO shows are the worst? We ranked its shows according to their ratings on Metacritic, which aggregates critic reviews and assigns each season of a show a score between 1 and 100.

For shows with multiple seasons, we averaged their scores. And to break ties, we brought in the audience score.

Here’s how HBO’s shows rank, from worst to best, according to critics on Metacritic.

(Note: We left off animated, children’s, documentary/reality, and foreign programming, as well as miniseries, with a few notable exceptions.)

16. 'The Newsroom' (2012-14), three seasons


Average Metacritic score: 61.7

'The series is kind of a mess ... but one you can't really look away from.' -- SFGate

15. 'Carnivale' (2003-05), two seasons

Average Metacritic score: 61

'A bloated mess ... 'Carnivale' is a little too full of itself. Believing that it has a fascinating story to tell with all the complex themes you could imagine, the series nevertheless fails the first test of television: Move forward.' -- SFGate

14. 'Unscripted' (2005), one season


Metacritic score: 60

Audience Score: N/A

'A faux documentary on actors who are not famous but who are struggling to be isn't inherently interesting to non-actors ... 'Unscripted' isn't a complete flop. It's just rare that HBO fails like this.' -- The San Francisco Chronicle

13. 'Divorce' (2016-present) one season

Macall B. Polay/HBO

Metacritic score: 60

Audience Score: 5.2

'The laugh-out-loud viciousness of the opening, which involves both a gun and vomit, is clearly the work of series creator Sharon Horgan, who also co-writes and stars in Amazon's brilliant 'Catastrophe.' But 'Divorce' isn't always as biting as it is in those moments, leading to a solidly acted but somewhat mundane exploration of a breakup.' -- The AV Club

12. 'Ballers' (2015-16), three seasons

Average Metacritic score: 59.3

'(Dwayne) Johnson himself is the best part of 'Ballers,' a charismatic, mostly responsive force that is our window to the precarious world of retirement from football. His perspective on the life of the partying ball player is one of nostalgia. But in the absence of forward momentum, the camera turns to looking for shock value anywhere it can.' -- Salon

11. 'How to Make It in America' (2010-11), two seasons

Metacritic score: 59

'As a portrait of struggling Manhattanites, 'How to Make It' effectively homes in on that hope-filled effervescence historically associated with the idealised American dream.' -- Slant Magazine

10. 'Hello Ladies' (2013), one season

Metacritic score: 58

Audience Score: 7.4

'We've seen this show before, in fresher settings, with stronger comic structure -- from, in fact, the same creators: (Stephen) Merchant and American 'Office' writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky.' -- Newsday

9. 'Tell Me You Love Me' (2007), one season

HBO/Tell Me You love Me

Metacritic score: 58

Audience Score: 6.0

'Unfortunately, it is difficult to stay interested in what happens to any of these characters because most of them are so absurdly unlikable.' -- Los Angeles Times

8. 'Sex and the City' (1998-2004), six seasons

Getty Images

Metacritic score: 52

Audience Score: 8.0

'Parker's irresistible charm keeps us on Carrie's side even as the character's act grows old.' -- People

7. 'The Brink' (2015), one season


Metacritic score: 52

Audience Score: 7.6

'The show operates at a tone of constant hysteria, which, as justified as that may be, begins to feel exhausting.' -- Variety

6. 'Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons' (2016), one season


Metacritic score: 51

'His interview style is an effective one -- opinionated without being overbearing, with just enough smugness to give some of his questions a provocative edge.' -- Yahoo

5. 'John from Cincinnati' (2007), one season

Metacritic score: 50

Audience Score: 7.4

'Watching HBO's surfing drama 'John From Cincinnati' is like sitting through a bad play at a tiny experimental theatre. ... In short, if Gary Busey were a TV series, he would be 'John From Cincinnati.'' -- The Boston Globe

4. 'Angry Boys' (2011), one season

HBO/Angry Boys

Metacritic score: 50

Audience Score: 7.3

It 'leaves only the flashes of comedic brilliance, and even they don't light up the sky very often.' -- The Wall Street Journal

3. 'Lucky Louie' (2006), one season

YouTube/Lucky Louie

Metacritic score: 47

'A show so vile, it makes you think the company's arrogant It's Not TV -- It's HBO slogan isn't a brag -- it's a threat.' -- USA Today

2. 'Real Time with Bill Maher' (2003-present), 15 seasons


Average Metacritic score: 43

'Why would HBO, cable's most innovative network ... think it's a good idea to let Bill Maher bring the skeleton of his canceled ABC show, 'Politically Incorrect,' and stuff it into the tattered corpse of 'Dennis Miller Live'?' -- Entertainment Weekly

1. 'Ja'mie: Private School Girl' (2013), one season

Metacritic score: 40

'It's a painfully obvious shtick, so camp and arch it's impossible to enjoy the joke.' -- TV Guide

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