I meant to have this article done and posted last week to coincide with my Best of 2011 Television articles but I had a little trouble with this one. In a lot of ways, it’s been a great year for television but in a lot of ways, it’s also been a very disappointing year. Some of my favorite shows have had a rough go of it. That meant including some shows on this list that I really hate to admit just weren’t up to par. This list is going to piss some people off. All I ask is that you read the reason I’ve put the shows on the list. If you still disagree, feel free to call me a moron in the comments section.
The appeal of Weeds when the show began was that it was different than everything else on television and that you could really feel for Botwin family matriarch, Nancy (played by Mary-Louise Parker). As the seasons have progressed though, only one of those things has remained true. Weeds is still unique but the days of being able to sympathize with Nancy have long passed. With that, the show really lost a lot of its appeal. In the beginning, Nancy made a lot of bad choices but the viewer could always believe those choices were made with her children in mind. Later in the series, it’s more that Nancy makes the decisions she makes despite, or even at the expense of, her children. She’s cold, manipulative and unabashedly selfish. That works for some characters on some shows (I’m looking at you, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) but not when the biggest selling point the show had to offer was the strong, confident female lead that would do anything for her family. I turned in this season because last season ended with Nancy making an extremely unselfish decision to protect her youngest son, Shane (Alexander Gould). The hope that Nancy was returning to the character she used to be faded entirely rather quickly this season and with it went my loyalty to the show. Not even halfway into the season, I stopped caring what happened to Nancy and stopped caring about the show. I didn’t even tune in for the season finale. From what I heard, the season closed with someone possibly assassinating Mrs. Botwin. To be honest, that’s about the only way I could see myself tuning in again. Her entire family would be better off without her toxic influence. It’s a real shame too. The cast is incredibly talented but unfortunately, their talented is wasted in this one.
Before I start in on Dexter, I want to make one thing clear. Dexter is a great show and I still call myself a fan. This season wasn’t bad in the traditional sense of the word and really got me excited for next season with the big reveal in the season finale but it really did little to save what amounted to a very sloppy season. I’m sure a lot of the open stories will come into play in what is said to be the show’s final two seasons, but it sort of felt like a cheap ploy to keep people tuning in. The major plot points I expected to go somewhere but didn’t include:
- The guy in the grain silo.
- Jonah, Trinity and the motel pen.
- The “Whore of Babylon” saying more than one person was present in the church when she was tied up.
- Quinn’s drunken douchebaggery.
- The entire Brother Sam storyline.
- Dexter’s quickie with the store clerk.
I’m leaving the Ice Truck Killer hand off the list because I’m positive it’s there to set up Lewis as next season’s villain so I’ll allow that one but the rest of them? It felt like forced storytelling at best and sloppy storytelling at worst. Why bring in an actor as talented as Mos only to kill him off before his storyline actually goes anywhere. Disappointing all around. What was worse, there were some moments so predictable, I called them as they happened. “Now Dexter’s going to look over his computer and recognize Doomsday Adam’s wife, thwarting Wormwood.” “Now Travis is going to jump out of nowhere and clobber the cop.” “Now Quinn’s going to rush to Batista’s aid, saving him just in time.” I’ve never been able to do that with this show before and it bothers me that I could this season. I’m excited for next season all the same. I just hope it actually goes somewhere. It would be a shame to see Dexter go the way of Weeds.
Perhaps my expectations were just too high with Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl but honestly, I quit watching after the first three episodes. I just didn’t care about the characters or what they were doing. I got tired of just watching Zooey be adorable. We get it. She’s a misfit. Can we go somewhere with this now? I know a lot of people loved the show but I honestly can’t see why. Not even Justin Long’s appearance could convince me to tune in and I love me some Justin Long. Let’s throw it back to Weeds for a moment. When Zooey showed up on Weeds her character was weird and a little crazy but I loved her. I was sat to see the character written off the show. I suppose I was hoping for something more like that. I got a few laughs from New Girl but there were far more yawns and even more eye rolls. It felt cliché. What a horrible waste of Zooey’s talent. I wanted to like this one. I really did. I was more excited about New Girl than any other new fall show.
I liked The Voice in theory but by there was so very much about it that just didn’t work. The blind auditions were a great and the live shows were decent but the battle rounds – good heavens the battle rounds. They brought the show to a screeching halt. The first episode featuring battle rounds was interesting but then it got old fast. And the coaches? Each one made at least one mind-numbingly bad decision. Adam made several of them. There were a lot of great moments and I think the show could really be something special if they work on the format. Less battle rounds and perhaps a less speedy cut process. The show didn’t allow you any time at all to get to know the contestants. I had my favorites in the finals, but a lot of great contestants (Rebecca Loebe, Devon Barley come to mind right off the top of my head) got lost in the shuffle and got cut far too early. What’s wrong with cutting one person a week? Stop rushing. People like to know who they’re voting for. The biggest disappointment for me though had nothing to do with what was shown on the air. For me, I was most disappointed with the complete lack of Lukas Rossi – the one reason I tuned in for the first episode. Lukas Rossi is a total rock star and really should’ve been on the air.
We get it. Jackie Payton (played beautifully by Edie Falco) isn’t really a great person. She does bad things and makes terrible decisions. I loved the first two seasons of Nurse Jackie because there was so much going on. The third season was a serious let down though. It picked up big time in the last few episodes but had I not been as loyal to the series as I am, I never would’ve made it to the last few episodes. I just stopped caring what happened to Jackie. This season, the secondary characters saved the show and just barely. I really, sincerely hope next season picks up the pace and allows Jackie’s character to grow. Edie Falco is a phenomenally talented actress. Writers please, give her something to work with.
United States of Tara
While Nurse Jackie was struggling through a less than stellar season, United States of Tara was giving viewers its best – and evidently, its last. It blows my mind that Tara was cancelled. One of the most unique shows on television, in confronted mental illness in a very unflinching sort of way but avoided being all about Tara and her illness. The entire cast was comprised of rich, complicated characters with their own stories and the show gave you the chance to see how Tara’s illness not only affected her but her family as well. It was hard to watch at times but that was a big part of the appeal. It felt very real. You believed the characters. You cared about them. You wanted to know what happens. While the writers clearly saw the end was coming and wrote a fitting and beautiful season/series finale, I’m still angry all these months later that we’ll never see what happened to these characters after the season ended.
Poor Ratings for Great Shows
Pan Am? Really people? No one could tune in for this one? Pan Am was one of the best new drama shows of the fall but couldn’t draw viewers? It’s sexy. It’s suspenseful. Christina Ricci. Mike Vogel. Come on! Watch it! Don’t make me throw a tantrum because I’m nearly thirty years old and that would just be sad. It wasn’t just Pan Am that was tragically underrated this year though. Hart of Dixie deserves a lot more viewers than it gets although I admit it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Community is one of the best comedies on the air. Where is the love for Community? Sometimes I really don’t understand people.