The Worst Amazon Original Shows of All Time
Amazon is quickly becoming a key player in producing quality TV programming. In recent years, the online service has released a slew of critically acclaimed original TV shows, including Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, and Catastrophe. But while there are plenty of fantastic titles on Amazon’s lineup, not every one of their shows is a winner.
The company has made a few major missteps, when it comes to picking and choosing new TV projects. So which comedies and dramas should you be sure to avoid watching? Here are nine of the worst Amazon original shows to date, ranked from the not-so-great to the downright bad.
9. Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse
Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse is quite obviously Amazon’s answer to Netflix’s acclaimed Chef’s Table, but it ultimately falls short of living up to the latter. The docuseries, which debuted in September 2016, follows the famous chef around the world as he experiments with local cuisines, sometimes bringing along other well-known names in the food industry for the ride.
From entertaining travels to lots of well-plated, exotic-looking cuisine, the series has pretty much everything you’d expect from a culinary show. Despite that, it’s not as cinematically sophisticated as Chef’s Table, nor as well-structured.
If you’re looking for a fun show with plenty of food porn, Eat the World will do fine. But if you’re a serious foodie looking for an exceptionally high-quality culinary series, Emeril’s journey may not be enough to satisfy you.
8. All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals
In a similar fashion to HBO’s Hard Knocks, this eight-episode docuseries aims to go behind the scenes of a major athletic corporation — in this case, following the Arizona Cardinals for an entire NFL season. There’s plenty to like about this show, including Jon Hamm as the narrator for the full series. But fans should not expect a truly in-depth exploration of the heart and drama at the core of a professional football team.
Part of this is a matter of timing. There were over 1,000 hours of footage shot and we only get to see eight of those. That wouldn’t matter much if those eight hours were unfiltered and delivered an honest portrayal of NFL life. But it’s pretty obvious that every player, every coach, and every detail has been vetted and specifically chosen to make the league — and the team — look good.
If you’re a hardcore football lover or a fan of the Cardinals, you may find the show interesting. However, those looking for a true documentary — one that gets into the nitty-gritty of the sport — will likely want to skip this one.
One of Amazon’s earliest original titles, Betas, follows the comic adventures of four Silicon Valley pals who are working on a mobile social networking app. The show earned solid reviews in its first and only season, with critics agreeing that it was one of the better online series of its time. But though that may have been true in 2013, the series still doesn’t rank as one of Amazon’s better shows.
Why? While Season 1 featured some funny moments and an adequate enough cast, there was nothing particularly standout about the series. If anything, it often delivered gags that were too obvious and on the nose. If it had been more consistent in terms of quality, it may have gotten another chance. As it is, the show was canceled after only one season, with Amazon opting to move on to bigger and better things.
6. Z: The Beginning of Everything
There’s plenty of material to mine from the life of the iconic Zelda Fitzgerald, but this Amazon original doesn’t deliver the compelling portrait that some may have hoped for. Starring Christina Ricci and Gavin Stenhouse, Z: The Beginning of Everything is a splashy and mildly entertaining portrayal of one of history’s most famous couples, but it also has several faults that are too glaring to overlook.
From the start, the show can’t seem to make up its mind on what it is. It boasts a half-hour format and is bafflingly listed as a comedy, despite featuring way more serious moments than actual laughs.
Ricci is plenty talented, but both her and Stenhouse’s performance often feels exaggerated and overdone. Throw in mediocre dialogue and it all makes for a frustratingly unformed series that doesn’t do either its cast or its source material justice. It currently holds a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes.
5. Alpha House
Alpha House has the distinction of being Amazon’s first ever original series and it made for a pretty decent first step into original programming for the company. The drama, which premiered in 2013, stars John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, and Mark Consuelos as four Republican U.S. Senators who share a house in Washington, D.C.
The series aired for two seasons and got solid enough reviews, mostly due to strong central performances and an easy chemistry between the cast. Despite these strengths though, the show wasn’t particularly original and — unlike fellow political satire, Veep — not funny enough to be addictive. That’s likely why Amazon decided to pull the plug after only two seasons.
4. Mad Dogs
Amazon’s Mad Dogs was canceled after only one season — and it’s not hard to see why. The show follows a group of forty-something friends who travel to Belize for a celebration that turns into a nightmare. Despite featuring a top-notch cast, the series earned somewhat lackluster reviews, scoring a mediocre 64% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Among the criticisms? Reviewers panned the series for being too predictable, as well as focusing too much time on “tired and depressing” mid-life observations. Given the not-so-great response, it’s no surprise Amazon ultimately decided to cut the show and focus its attention elsewhere.
3. The Collection
This eight-part drama, co-produced by Amazon Studios, BBC Worldwide, Lookout Point Federation Entertainment, and France Télévision, stars Richard Coyle and Tom Riley as two brothers who have very different approaches to running a fashion house in post-World War II Paris.
The show marks Amazon’s first major collaboration with a continental-European public national broadcaster. Unfortunately, the drama has failed to impress in its first season. Though visually arresting, the series tries to deliver a dark and brooding mystery, but ultimately lacks a compelling enough hook to keep you tuned in. As The Boston Globe described, “The Collection can be pretty to look at, but first impressions will not lead to second glances.”
2. Hand of God
This psychological drama, following a morally corrupt judge who believes he’s getting messages from God, has aired two seasons on Amazon. Though the show boasts a talented cast and an intriguing premise, its freshman season didn’t exactly go over well. Season 1 earned a low 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and was critically panned for being overly bleak and too low on thrills. As Vox put it, Hand of God makes for “excruciatingly terrible television.”
Despite the poor reviews, Amazon decided to give the series a second and final season, which premiered in March 2017.
1. Crisis in Six Scenes
Amazon earned a lot of buzz when it nabbed Woody Allen’s first ever TV show. Unfortunately, Allen’s directorial prowess didn’t translate to the small-screen as well as Amazon may have hoped. The comedy, starring Allen, Miley Cyrus, Elaine May, and John Magaro, grossly failed to live up to everyone’s high expectations. It was labeled “unfunny,” “disengaged,” and “dreary” by critics and scored a dismal 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Unsurprisingly, Allen has since confirmed that there won’t be another season of the show.