The 50 worst US TV shows in modern history, according to critics

CavemenABCABC’s ‘Cavemen.’

Many of the worst television shows originate from some highly questionable concepts that make you wonder how they ever got approved.

ABC’s “Cavemen” series in 2007, for instance, was based on characters from a short-lived Geico commercial, and Fox’s 2014 reality show “I Wanna Marry Harry” saw 12 women compete for the chance to marry a Prince Harry look-alike who they thought was the real Prince of Wales.

Both shows were critical disasters, and each lasted only one season — as many of the worst reality shows, dramas, and sitcoms have.

To find out which programs critics hated the most, we turned to the review aggregator Metacritic for its list of the worst TV shows, which goes back to 1995. The list ranks show seasons by their composite critical reception.

Check out the 50 worst TV shows from least to most objectionable, according to critics:

50. 'South Beach' (UPN, Season 1)

UPN

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 8.6/10

What critics said: 'A preposterous and pretentious drama series.' -- The Washington Post

49. 'Hidden Hills' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 29/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'This series reflects the way wealthy, neurotic, overly busy and sex-obsessed TV executives and producers think America lives, in other words, the way they live. They're wrong.' -- The Detroit News

48. 'American Inventor' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 5.1/10

What critics said: 'A bloated disappointment that spends more time on the judges than the inventors and their inventions.' -- Houston Chronicle

47. 'Big Brother' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 5.2/10

What critics said: 'Five days a week of people in a cramped house full of IKEA furniture is like a bad college flashback.' -- Variety

46. 'Rob' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 3.8/10

What critics said: 'There's hardly a moment or performance in 'Rob' that doesn't reek of the leftover and the second-rate.' -- USA Today

45. 'Ghost Whisperer' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: 'At times during 'Ghost Whisperer,' the sentiment is so thick you might want to go away from the light -- the light from the TV set, that is.' -- Boston Globe

44. 'The Return of Jezebel James' (Fox, Season 1)

Fox

Critic score: 29/100

User score: 5.2/10

What critics said: 'Miscast and only intermittently funny, 'Jezebel James' misfires on all cylinders.' -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

43. 'Sex Box' (WE, Season 1)

WE

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 3.0/10

What critics said: 'Watching it is kind of like bad sex -- the clock watching, the profound embarrassment, the desire to check your email.' -- The New York Times

42. 'Painkiller Jane' (Syfy, Season 1)

Syfy

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 6.1/10

What critics said: 'The show is long on concept and short on execution which would actually be OK if the writing and acting were not so simply terrible.' -- Los Angeles Times

41. 'The War at Home' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 3.9/10

What critics said: 'If 'The War at Home' spent more time on good jokes instead of recycling every gimmick ever seen on TV, it might merely be mediocre, but it's worse.' -- San Francisco Chronicle

40. 'Love Inc.' (UPN, Season 1)

UPN

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 7.5/10

What critics said: 'A grating comedy.' -- Chicago Tribune

39. 'Murphy's Law' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 28/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'A series so monumentally meaningless, so pathetically puerile, so irredeemably ridiculous that, within my limited professional context, it prompts the Biggest Question of them all: Why is there television?' -- Newsday

38. 'Rules of Engagement' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 7.5/10

What critics said: 'The series quickly begins to resemble one of those fake sitcoms you'd see in a snide movie that likes to take easy potshots at low culture.' -- L.A. Weekly

37. 'Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 3.8/10

What critics said: 'Moving on from the prevalent misogyny of the original 'Criminal Minds,' CBS' new spinoff 'Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders' is a pure distillation of xenophobia.' -- The Hollywood Reporter

36. '$#*! My Dad Says' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 28/100

User score: 4.4/10

What critics said: ''$#*! My Dad Says' is a dismal show, harboring the worst qualities of every lame, four-camera, laugh-tracked sitcom on television.' -- Slant Magazine

35. 'Dirty Dancing' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 27/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'Play(s) like an extended shampoo commercial and lacking the edge and joyful vigour of the movie on which it is based.' -- Los Angeles Times

34. 'Does Someone Have To Go?' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 27/100

User score: 3.3/10

What critics said: ''Lord of the Flies'-meets-a-telephone book, and just about as entertaining.' -- Newsday

33. 'In Case of Emergency' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 27/100

User score: 6.9/10

What critics said: 'Somewhere trapped inside this shrill, irritating comedy is a better show that emerges only in fleeting glimpses.' -- Variety

32. 'Desire' (My Network TV, Season 1)

My Network TV

Critic score: 27/100

User score: 7.5/10

What critics said: 'In terms of intelligence, wit and quality, 'Desire' is a serious cut below most prime time drama series.' -- Detroit Free Press

31. 'Liz & Dick' (Lifetime, TV Movie)

Lifetime

Critic score: 26/100

User score: 3.8/10

What critics said: 'A wildly graceless biopic that careens through the decades-long relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton with more petulance than passion.' -- Los Angeles Times

30. 'Truth Be Told' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 26/100

User score: 4.1/10

What critics said: 'Not a single scene feels authentic, even if we excuse the overexplanations we often see in comedy pilots. This show is not provocative. It is not a conversation-starter, it is not thoughtful, it is not sharp, it is not enlightening.' -- Vulture

29. 'Get This Party Started' (UPN, Season 1)

Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Critic score: 26/100

User score: 3.6/10

What critics said: 'UPN's new series has a shot -- in the sweepstakes for the worst reality show of all time.' -- PopMatters

28. 'How to Get the Guy' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 26/100

User score: 7.2/10

What critics said: 'A ridiculous, cloying, condescending, wrong-headed reality show.' -- New York Post

27. 'Dr. Ken' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 26/100

User score: 3.0/10

What critics said: 'A family comedy has to have heart and humour, and 'Dr. Ken' has neither.' -- Los Angeles Times

26. 'Hawaii' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 25/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'The new cop series 'Hawaii' isn't your father's 'Hawaii Five-O.' It's probably not yours, either, or your child's, or anyone's. It's awful.' -- New York Daily News

25. 'Happy Hour' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 25/100

User score: 8.3/10

What critics said: 'Sheer, excruciating pain.... 'Happy Hour' stands a good chance of being named Worst New Show, or at least feeblest new sitcom.' -- The Washington Post

24. 'The Trouble With Normal' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 25/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'ABC has been promoting the heck out of 'The Trouble With Normal,' but the shockingly unfunny ensemble and rotten scripts will undo all that publicity in minutes. On a positive note, this will almost certainly end the TV career of Jon Cryer.' -- Kansas City Star

23. 'Tucker' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 25/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'A dopey comedy deserves a dopey assessment: Tucker sucks. Please make it go away.' -- Detroit Free Press

22. 'The Leisure Class' (HBO, TV Movie)

HBO

Critic score: 25/100

User score: 2.8/10

What critics said: 'There's little reason to waste 85 minutes watching Jason Mann's 'The Leisure Class,' a tonally troubled and reprehensibly dull movie.' -- The Washington Post

21. 'Killer Instinct' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 25/100

User score: 8.5/10

What critics said: 'You won't see any worse acting across the broadcast spectrum. The women-in-peril scenes are vile. The writing is atrocious. The series is horrifically bad.' -- San Francisco Chronicle

20. 'Unan1mous' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 24/100

User score: 3.1/10

What critics said: 'Makes a solid bid to win the Most Unpleasant Reality Show of All Time award.' -- Miami Herald

19. 'Woops!' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 24/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'It could have been the funniest show in the world, if there was a nuclear war, really, and this was the only one show left. 'Woops!' is moronic on so many levels.' -- Newsday

18. 'Modern Men' (WB, Season 1)

WB

Critic score: 24/100

User score: 5.6/10

What critics said: 'Bad sitcom, bad.' -- Chicago Sun-Times

17. '10.5 Apocalypse' (NBC, Mini-Series)

NBC

Critic score: 23/100

User score: 4.2/10

What critics said: 'The calamities and catastrophes occur with such frequency and ferocity that, yes, indeed, 'Apocalypse 10.5' suffers the curse of being unintentionally funny -- even hilarious.' -- The Washington Post

16. 'I Wanna Marry Harry' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 23/100

User score: 3.0/10

What critics said: 'Instead of just creating the horror show that is 12 women competing for a man, it chooses also to play them for fools.' -- The AV Club

15. 'October Road' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 23/100

User score: 3.0/10

What critics said: 'This wretched show not only features a lead character who is an unredeemable nitwit but dialogue that manages to be leaden, preposterous and pretentious all at once.' -- Chicago Tribune

14. 'Identity' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 22/100

User score: 8.4/10

What critics said: 'Now, you may be saying, 'There he goes again, that elitist toad.' But believe me, even Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Bill O'Reilly would think this show was stupid.' -- Philadelphia Inquirer

13. 'The Game' (The CW/BET, Season 1)

CW

Critic score: 22/100

User score: 8.2/10

What critics said: 'It just isn't funny. At all. Ever.' -- USA Today

12. 'Do Not Disturb' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 21/100

User score: 3.5/10

What critics said: 'This is a show that could bury the (sitcom) genre altogether.' -- The Hollywood Reporter

11. 'Sons of Hollywood' (A&E, Season 1)

A&E

Critic score: 21/100

User score: 3.9/10

What critics said: 'Once again, reality TV invites us to marvel at the idiocy, futility, and self-destructive tendencies of the rich and famous. But this petty, home-movie-level material wouldn't even fly on YouTube.' -- Boston Globe

10. 'Uncle Buck' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 21/100

User score: Unavailable

What critics said: 'The jokes are obvious, the situations cliched, the characters obnoxious. Would you believe a lecherous insurance agent named Doreen Douche?' -- Newsday

9. 'Knight Rider' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 21/100

User score: 6.0/10

What critics said: '(An) almost hilariously cheesy remake of the David Hasselhoff original.' -- Chicago Tribune

8. 'Momma's Boys' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 19/100

User score: 4.3/10

What critics said: 'Executive produced by Ryan Seacrest, this sucking wound of a show introduces three guys and their mums who move into a house filled with women.' -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

7. 'The Real Wedding Crashers' (NBC, Season 1)

NBC

Critic score: 19/100

User score: 4.3/10

What critics said: 'An HD broadcast: Hugely Dumb.' -- The Washington Post

6. 'Cavemen' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 19/100

User score: 5.2/10

What critics said: ''Cavemen,' is pretty bad. It's definitely among the stalest pieces of bread in the loaf, which already includes 'Two and a Half Men' and 'According to Jim.' And it's certainly the most tasteless.
' -- Boston Globe

5. 'Work It' (ABC, Season 1)

ABC

Critic score: 19/100

User score: 1.1/10

What critics said: ''Work It' is dreadful almost beyond comprehension: witless, tasteless, poorly acted, abominably written, clumsily directed, hideously lit and badly costumed.' -- USA Today

4. 'Category 7: The End of the World' (CBS, Mini-Series)

CBS

Critic score: 18/100

User score: 3.7/10

What critics said: 'Here's an early candidate for worst miniseries of the 21st Century.' -- Detroit Free Press

3. 'Stalker' (CBS, Season 1)

CBS

Critic score: 17/100

User score: 7.4/10

What critics said: 'The violence, creepiness and depravity appear to be the point, because nothing of value is offered in balance.... It's unforgivable.' -- Los Angeles Times

2. 'Dads' (Fox, Season 1)

FOX

Critic score: 15/100

User score: 3.7/10

What critics said: 'A crass generation-gap sitcom with the wit if not the intelligence of an elementary-school flatulence contest.' -- Miami Herald

1. 'The 1/2 Hour News Hour' (Fox News, Season 1)

Fox News

Critic score: 13/100

User score: 2.8/10

What critics said: 'The conservative answer to 'The Daily Show' ... Sometimes the humour is so heavy-handed that it seems almost like self-parody.
' -- The New York Times

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