It can be hard for a TV show to maintain a compelling storyline and fresh writing, no matter how promising it was when it first started. Unfortunately for fans, the longer a series remains on the air, the higher the risk there is for it to go off the rails. Case in point? These five TV shows all made a strong debut, but have definitely taken a turn for the worse in recent seasons. Check out the once-great, now dismal small-screen titles below:
1. 2 Broke Girls
The chemistry between lead stars Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings made this CBS show enjoyable (or at least, watchable) in its early seasons, but the always predictable gags have become even more tedious and one-note in the years since. Now set to enter its sixth season this fall, the show has reached a new low: the jokes are less funny and staler than ever before, making it impossible to root for — or even care much — about the characters of Max (Dennings) and Caroline (Behrs). The amateur, stereotype-pushing writing has become so bad in recent seasons, its even led some to wonder whether 2 Broke Girls is the worst sitcom currently on TV.
2. Sleepy Hollow
Fox’s supernatural drama started off promising enough, providing a fun twist on a classic and great chemistry between leads Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. But the show saw some trouble behind-the-scenes after Season 2, resulting in a change in showrunners and a critically derided third season. Whether the backstage drama was to blame is up for debate, but the hugely disappointing Season 3 (including that shocking finale death) left fans unenthusiastic and significantly less interested in the show’s future. Despite that, Sleepy Hollow was renewed for Season 4, which is set to premiere during midseason 2017.
When creator and showrunner, Eric Kripke first brought Supernatural to television (on WB, now known as The CW), he made it clear that he only envisioned it as a five-year series. Flash forward seven years later and Supernatural is still on the air and about to kick off its 12th season. Despite Krikpe’s wishes, the network has allowed the show to stretch on and on, essentially just spinning its wheels with no clear idea of where to go. While many critics agreed that Season 11 marked a bit of a creative resurgence for the show, the series has clearly overstayed its welcome — and the network seems to have no particular endpoint in sight.
Shonda Rhimes has transformed Thursday nights on ABC with her #TGIT (“Thank God It’s Thursday”) line-up of compelling dramas. But though Scandal may have been the strongest of the pack back in its heyday, recent seasons have proved to be much more disappointing.
The show first started going off the rails in Season 3 and things have gotten continuously worse since then. Though there have been some notable bright spots (like “The Lawn Chair,” the episode on police brutality and institutionalized racism in Season 4), the vast majority of recent installments have been messy and difficult to watch. Season 5 was no exception, with Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope becoming the latest in Scandal‘s long line of formerly beloved characters to go irredeemably bad.
Whether Season 6 will help repair the damage or only continue to go off track remains to be seen, but fans will have to wait a while to find out. The drama isn’t set to return until midseason 2017.
5. Modern Family
There’s no question that ABC‘s flagship family sitcom has had a celebrated and acclaimed on-air run. But even the show’s most loyal fans have to admit that the series has outlived its glory days at this point. As other fresh family comedies have popped up on TV, Modern Family has continued to run on the same old formula — which, though once effective, now just feels tired and complacent. As the Boston Globe put it at the start of Season 7, “Once mighty, the show has become so formulaic it has fallen into the category of bland TV comfort food.”
Despite that, the network seems determined to keep the show around, with Season 8 kicking off this fall.
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