Making a hit TV show is a tough business. It seems like the best shows get canceled too soon, while some of the most hated TV shows stick around far too long. Show creators must appeal to the widest common denominator to get the ratings necessary to stay on air while satisfying their creative vision and making a show that’s original, thoughtful, and well-written enough to get decent reviews from critics.
Even though making a television program is far from easy, the following shows from the 1990s are enough to make you wonder what their creators were thinking. From talk shows to sitcoms to police procedurals, the entries on this list run the gamut from unknown duds to an extremely successful, truly awful show that’s still on the air today. We culled our choices from fan reception, critical vitriol, and TV Guide’s widely cited 2002 list of the worst TV shows of all time.
1. Baby Talk
This weird, short-lived TV show ran for just a single, disastrous year in the spring of 1991. Loosely based on the Look Who’s Talking movies, the show was about a baby with a very adult internal monologue voiced by Tony Danza. The audience follows the struggles of the baby’s single mother, including her efforts to start dating again, through the eyes of the child. Notably, one of her suitors is played by a young George Clooney.
The show got terrible reviews from the start for the weirdness of the baby’s voice and the generally bad writing. Those bad reviews caused star Julia Duffy to drop out of the lead role and get replaced by Mary Page Keller, meaning the show had two different lead actresses during its one-year run. Clooney also left as soon as he could and considers Baby Talk a particular low point in his career, according to IMDb. Baby Talk was thought to be one of the worst shows on television during the year that it aired, and its bad reviews resulted in a 30 Metascore on Metacritic. Even if the writing had been better, the idea of a baby with an adult-level internal monologue is pretty creepy and weird.