The Worst Netflix Original Shows
Netflix has made a name for itself as a major player in the scripted television landscape, but not all of its original shows are winners. While the streaming service has earned plenty of critical acclaim for award-worthy dramas like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, some of its series haven’t been quite as well-received among critics and audiences.
Check out 10 of the worst Netflix original TV shows ever made.
1. Fuller House
Netflix’s revival of the classic family sitcom may hold a certain nostalgia-fueled appeal for diehard Full House fans, but most others would probably agree the show has little to offer besides that. The series follows the recently widowed D.J. Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure) as she recruits her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber) to help her raise her three sons,Jackson (Michael Campion), Max (Elias Harger), and Tommy Jr. (Dashiell and Fox Messitt).
Almost all the original cast members make a cameo at some point or another and there is admittedly some fun in seeing the ol’ gang back together. But that alone isn’t enough to make up for the show’s wildly bad jokes and overly contrived scenarios. As the Boston Globe put it, “Fuller House never justifies its own existence, let alone why the uninitiated should give it a chance.”
Despite the poor reviews, the show is one of Netflix’s most widely-watched series, so it’s no surprise the streamer renewed Fuller House for both a second and third season.
2. Hemlock Grove
Based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, the horror thriller series examines the strange happenings in Hemlock Grove, a fictional town in Pennsylvania. Starring Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron, the show follows Roman Godfrey, heir to the town’s wealthy Godfrey family, and the town’s newcomer, Peter Rumancek as they work together to shed light on a series of brutal murders.
Hemlock Grove was one of Netflix’s earliest original titles, premiering just a couple of months after the acclaimed House of Cards, and it proved to be a big misstep. The show was universally panned, with critics slamming the series for its poor acting and painfully slow pace. Time even named it one of the worst ten shows on television in 2013.
Despite the widely criticized freshman season, the show was renewed for two more seasons before finally ending its run in 2015.
Viewers may have expected more from this series, considering it was developed by the charismatic Will Arnett and Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz. But the Netflix show proved to be mostly disappointing in its eight-episode freshman season. Starring Arnett as a self-appointed ”guru” named Chip who falls for the object of his best friend’s desire,
Flaked relies way too heavily on the antics of grown men acting like children — an element that’s not entertaining or substantial enough to carry a series. Perhaps that’s why it feels like the show can’t quite make up its mind as to what it is, instead settling to become a dramcom that Entertainment Weekly describes as ” too cute to be serious and too lame to be funny.”
The first French original production for Netflix, Marseille stars Gerard Depardieu as Robert Taylor, the long-serving mayor of Marseille who enters into a war of succession with his former protégé turned rival Lucas Barres (Benoît Magimel). The show may use subtitles and star French actors, but other than featuring some lovely views of the city, it doesn’t feel particularly European.
Why? As critics have pointed out, the series relies oddly heavily on clichés lifted straight from American procedural dramas, from the drug-addled characters to the stylized gunplay to the dark opening credits to the splashy indoor sets. But instead of becoming more internationally appealing as probably intended, all of the glossy trappings just make the show feel overly familiar.
Throw in predictable writing and an overbearing score and it’s not hard to see why the show was critically panned in its debut. Despite that, it’ll get a second chance to prove itself. Netflix has renewed the show for a second season, set to air in 2017.
5. Marco Polo
The historical drama series earned a lot of hype in the lead-up to its 2014 debut and for good reason. Netflix shelled out a whopping $90 million for the 10-episode freshman season, marking one of its costliest and most ambitious projects ever. But the series failed to live up to its impressive price tag.
Critics called the show, which follows Venetian explorer Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) through his adventures in 13th-century China, “lifeless,” “sluggish” and “emotionally empty” — basically the opposite of its obvious inspiration, Game of Thrones. In an attempt to deliver both big-scale fun and historical accuracy, the show ends up just feeling like a middling creative mess.
Netflix gave it a second chance, but its 10-episode second season (which premiered in July 2016) didn’t fare much better. The streamer officially pulled the plug on Marco Polo in December 2016.
Created by Michael McGowan, the sci-fi drama stars Jennette McCurdy as Wiley Day, a pregnant teenage daughter of a minister living in the small town of Pretty Lake, which is plagued with a mysterious disease that has killed everybody who is over 21 years old. The series, a co-production with Canada’s City, marked a change in format for Netflix, with episodes airing on a week by week basis instead of being released all at once. But critics didn’t seem to think it was worth the extra wait.
Though McCurdy earned some praise for her performance, reviewers critiqued the series for lacking depth and a compelling hook, with Variety calling it “an utterly ho-hum addition to Netflix’s original lineup.”
Regardless, the series was renewed for Season 2, which aired in the summer of 2016. A third season has never been confirmed.
7. Richie Rich
A TV show based on a bad movie based on a bad comic is sure to be problematic, even if Richie Rich wasn’t as obnoxious of a story as it is. So it’s no wonder the Internet had a field day with Netflix’s version of the story, which stars Jake Brennan as the eponymous character.
Unlike in the comics, Richie is a self-made trillionaire in the series, but he still lives in a mansion filled with toys, contraptions, and a robot maid. It all reads like a misguided Disney show, with bad directing to boot.
Still, Richie Rich is part of a partnership with DreamWorks to boost Netflix’s original kids slate, which means the streaming service won’t give up on it that easy. The show has run for two seasons so far, with the most recent one ending in May 2015. It’s unclear if the series will get a third season.
Netflix’s four-part documentary series Cooked, based on the book by acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan, explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world. The show follows Pollan as he tries his hand at baking, brewing, and braising to showcase how food is directly related to basically every major issue of the modern world, including health and the environment.
That’s obviously a huge topic to undertake and Cooked could have definitely benefited from some extra episodes. Though the show provides some truly fascinating historical context, it ultimately tries to takes on way too much, lingering too long on some less complex elements of the subject and not long enough on other, more intricate ones.
But perhaps the biggest problem isn’t that the series is overpacked. It’s that, while informative, the show leaves viewers feeling guilty about what they eat, without providing a truly practical solution. Sure, it would probably be healthier if we all had the time to roast our own freshly caught meat over a fire, rather than rely on processed food. But that’s not realistic for anyone, let alone for those struggling to make ends meet.
As the New York Times put it, “There’s a gentrification to Mr. Pollan’s brand of culinary advocacy” and his ideas can’t be applied “to the whole range of human circumstances,” no matter how much this series may try.
Much was made about Netflix’s first ever talk show, which featured the return of Chelsea Handler to TV and was billed as a one-of-a-kind late night series that doesn’t have to adhere to the typical broadcast formula. In the opening episode of the show, Handler says she’s doing away with the monologue and other typical late night shtick and instead treating the show as the “the college education I never got.”
Despite it’s “anti-talk show” billing, Chelsea doesn’t feel particularly different. The comedian still kicks off every episode with her “non-monologue,” followed by an interview with a celebrity or other public figure. To be fair, some names that typically wouldn’t appear on the late night circuit are featured (like TED talk creator Chris Anderson) do show up, but the vast majority of guests are still expected celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Drew Barrymore.
Plus, the anything-goes structure often feels awkward and clumsy rather than loosely appealing, which is clearly the goal. Despite the lukewarm reception, the show kicked off Season 2 kicks April 2017. Handler has since confirmed it will be the last season.
Critics and audiences alike had high expectations for Sense8, considering the show hails from Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the famed sibling duo behind The Matrix. The sci-fi drama, which debuted in 2015, tells the story of eight strangers from different parts of the world who are mentally and emotionally connected.
Given the experimental concept, it’s perhaps no surprise that the show spurred such a divisive reaction among viewers. While some praised the diverse characters and creative interweaving storylines, others called the series “a major slip” for Netflix and criticized its slow pacing.
Despite that, Netflix gave Sense8 another chance, with an 11-episode second season, before pulling the plug on the show for good.
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