Friends? Six haircuts, no substance. The Walking Dead? Cool to look at, but nothing ever happens! Mad Men? A pretentious evening soap opera. The Big Bang Theory? Watch it without the laugh track and try to defend it as a sitcom. Let’s debunk televisions most sacred cows.
Friends: Friends was, and still is, the equivalent of a fast food restaurant that is praised for its lukewarm consistency over wit or originality. If Seinfeld was the “show about nothing,” Friends was a show about nothing interesting. It was about six bland twenty-something Gen X’ers, relying on tired old gas for laughs. Friends never grew, it never strived to get better. Watch any episode now and it could realistically come from anywhere in the series. When a show’s legacy is Jennifer Aniston’s haircut, you have to wonder what all the fuss was in the first place.
The Walking Dead: The frustrating thing about The Walking Dead is that it used to be original and exciting. But the slow pacing of the show’s storytelling sucks the life out of fans to where you can watch an entire episode without the advancement of the overall theme of the season. The huge number of viewers and ludicrously high rating of episodes in which next to nothing happens bewilders me! The show has a brilliant make-up artist, I’ll give it that. The narrative however is weak at times. Is the show bad? No, absolutely not. Is it overrated? Absolutely.
The Big Bang Theory: Several volumes could be written about why The Big Bang Theory is overrated, but what it all comes down to is a pandering script, and over-the-top acting, and the show’s laugh track – oh that laugh track. The Big Bang Theory is hailed as the show for geeks and nerds yet, when it isn’t creating humor by simply referencing Star Trek or high school level physics, it makes fun of those very geeks and nerds it’s supposed to appeal to.
13 Reasons Why: Completely average at best. The acting is SO bad and I guess you can blame the writing for this, but seriously the dialogue is some of the most cringeworthy stuff I’ve seen in a very long time. The characters for the most part are all very unlikable. These “teenagers” act like cartoons, they don’t talk or behave like teenagers in the slightest. In short, 13 Reasons Why relies almost completely on sensationalism, and because it’s a critics favorite, it gets a lot more credit than it might deserve.
Dr. Who: Dr. Who is another in a long line of beloved television shows that has treaded water, and relied on its past legacy. As a science fiction show, viewers must give in to truly get on board. Yet, the unrealistic plots that don’t work have nothing to do with space-time or aliens. If aliens are going to assault Earth, would they truly go to London first?
How I Met Your Mother: Maybe TV viewers were so desperate to fill the void that was left when Friends when off the air, they gave How I Met Your Mother a little more credit than they should have, but the show had one great hook (Who was Ted Mosby’s wife?) and beat it to death for nine long seasons. Again, a great concept for a sitcom, and it served HIMYM well for the first couple seasons, but when fans realized the show would never evolve, the show became redundant and overrated.
Family Guy: Ask any Family Guy fan what they think of the show these days, and you’ll get the same response, “The first three seasons were incredible, but quality has declined ever since.” And ever since season 9 or 10, the show seems to have turned into a political soapbox for Seth McFarlane. And like most shows, which have had the luxury of being on the air for over a dozen season, Family Guy has fallen into the trap of writers relying on sight gags rather than focusing on plot.
Stranger Things: Let’s be honest here – if your formative movie-watching years blossomed in the ‘80s, Stranger Things offers nothing new you haven’t seen a dozen times before. But there’s a whole new generation who are new to the show’s old tricks. Don’t get me wrong, the characters are incredibly well developed, and the actors bring their A-game, but Stranger Things suffers from two things. First, the storyline ran out of steam halfway through the first season when pretty much every viewer figured out what was happening and why. Secondly, the show suffered from a case of the emperor wearing new clothes – Stranger Things was so hyped up, there was no way it was ever going to live up to its expectations.
Grey’s Anatomy: There was a time when Grey’s Anatomy was an incredible weekly show – fans would have viewing parties with discussion groups after. Every episode was an event with smart, layered storylines and believable sexual tension between the cast, and the drama seemed legit. Then somewhere around the fifth season, the show became almost solely focused on tawdry sex. It’s about as interesting as a daytime soap opera these days, yet it soldiers on because of its strong early seasons. Nowadays, the majority of the people who watch it do so just to see how this predicable snoozefest will end.
Lost: For six long, seasons, Lost writers kept us twisting in the wind, wondering what it all meant. Oh, they new what it meant in season one, but because the show started off so strong, the show’s producers extended the series by three seasons too long. If Lost would have stuck to its original plan of a few seasons, and kept the storyline mean and lean, it could’ve been one of the greatest shows on TV. Instead, the bloated run gave us polar bears, mystery hatches, and smoke monsters that never summed up to anything. A lot of us wasted six years on this plodding mess.
Seinfeld: It’s practically sacrilege to call Seinfeld overrated, but have you seen an episode lately? Time has not been kind to the show, or its storylines. Does it deserve the reverence it gets now? There have been a few great episodes (“The Contest” and “The Subway” are two highlights), but if you watch all 180 episodes now, there’s a lot of filler in there. Not to mention the fact that Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer are four of the most self-centered, terrible people on television.
Mad Men. It’s easy to see why everyone was taken by Mad Men during its initial run. The sets were pretty and accurate for the time period, the clothes were impeccable, and there were a lot of good-looking people who filled the cast. But the middle seasons of its seven-season run were mostly filler, and Don Draper treaded water for most of it. There were bits of surprise here and there (like Ben Feldmen’s sliced nipple), but other than that, Mad Men was all Don, Don’s alcoholism, sex addiction, and his shoddy parenting.
Downton Abbey. Americans think that anything from PBS, delivered in a British accent with fancy period costumes is inherently more intelligent and important than anything they’ll find on network TV, but that’s not always the case. A perfect example is Downton Abbey. It looks pretty, but it never had the depth to be anything more than filler. Don’t be fooled by the posh accents – it’s a slow-moving walk through an English rose garden, not a historical novel.