There have been some truly phenomenal television shows produced over the last 10 years. Works of art that will continue to be appreciated and discussed for years to come. But what's the fun in talking about that?
For each great show created since 1998, there have been at least five or six terrible ones. Often these truly odious programs have a mercifully short lifespan. Occasionally, one will unexpectedly survive and thrive, shining proudly on screen and mocking the infinitely more creative, entertaining and intelligent programs that it has outlasted.
Acknowledging the fact that there have been far too many vomit-inducing shows to include in a single list, here are the top 10 to represent them all. There are probably quite a few deserving entries that were left off, but that is an inevitable result when discussing awful television.
The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
This little "gem" caused quite the uproar prior to the 1998-1999 television season. A politically incorrect version of "Benson," this period piece starred Chi McBride
as a British gent shipped out of his native land who then takes up residence in the White House, serving as the Lincolns' butler and voice of reason.
The controversy had to do with claims that the show was racist (a humorous take on slavery) and it negatively portrayed some historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln. Quick example: In one episode honest Abe is caught engaging in "telegraph sex," a precursor to cyber sex.
The political incorrectness of the show is not what made it bad. There have been a lot of very creative, non-politically correct programs that managed to be intelligent and entertaining. Unfortunately, "The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer" was not one of those. It was dull and unfunny at best, downright painful to watch at worst. Mercifully, it was canceled after just four episodes.
Does anyone remember Emeril Lagasse's
short-lived Fox sitcom? Hopefully not, because it was known to cause nausea, chills and intense pain to those who watched it. Emeril burst onto the scene in the 90s as the premier Food Network personality, and he certainly added his signature "essence" to the two very popular cooking shows he hosted on that network. It only seemed logical that a fictional sitcom about Emeril the chef would also be successful, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.
Married by America
People probably remember this show more for the FCC fine than for how appallingly bad it was. Fox was fined after receiving complaints from a couple of prudes about inappropriate content, but that is not the reason that this show is on the list. No, not by a long shot.
The concept is just atrocious. Male and female contests appear on the show, and they receive votes from the viewers (of which there were very, very few) at home. The pair who receives the highest vote totals has the privilege of getting married on air! It is still a debate as to what is sadder: the network execs who greenlit the show, or the contestants who appeared on it.
Are You Hot?
Not to be outdone by Fox and "Married by America," ABC offered up this little treasure around the same time. The premise was quite simple. It was a reality show where contestants appeared and were judged based on how physically attractive they were. That's it. That's the show. Newton Minnow thought that TV is the 1960s comprised a "vast wasteland?" Wonder what he thought of 2003?
The Michael Richards Show
The first casualty of the "Seinfeld
Curse," this was also quite possibly the worst television program of the 2000-2001 season. Despite having a talented cast (which in addition to Richards included William Devane
, Bill Cobbs
and Tim Meadows
), this series provided viewers with an agonizing half hour featuring a main character who was simply a stripped down and unfunny version of Cosmo Kramer. It wasn't particularly offensive or disastrously bad, just really, really boring. And a chore to watch.