For several years now, we have been in the throes of an era critics like to refer to as a “TV renaissance.” This ostensibly means that since the success of The Sopranos and The Wire, writers, directors and producers have been challenging themselves to make better, more literary and long-lasting series, built upon premises that are worthy of great literature (if not actually based on great literature). It’s gone so far that the medium once known as the brain-rotting “drug of a nation” is now so important that if you don’t watch, you’re willfully extricating yourself from large chunks of American culture. TV, they say, is not what it used to be. It is high art.
Well, we’re calling bullshit. While Jezebel employees spend a collective 6372 hours per week ingesting all manner of television, we also recognize that a number of the shows we passionately cover totally blow. In the spirit of questioning the overinflated bubble of “prestige” shows some snooty fuccboi on an internet forum says we must imbibe (because TV critics are the new film critics), we offer you a very real diary of the shows we stopped watching this year, for reasons ranging from “no time” to “lost interest” to “too tired” to “that shit sucks, b.” We’re not going to stop the boob tube... we’re going to break the boob tube. Etc.
Kara Brown: The first season of Empire had the perfect mix of campiness and lack of self-awareness. As the second season progressed, it became clear that the show had figured out its ethos a bit too much. The plotlines have always been a tad unbelievable, but things got especially ridiculous and I just couldn’t hang. In an ideal world, this was simply a sophomore slump and I can go back to enjoying Cookie in Season 3.
I hate when shows start out with a specific premise and then just switch shit up. The Mindy Project was more or less a workplace romantic comedy but it quickly turn into a bit of a soap opera as soon as Mindy and Danny got together. I know that it has garnered praise recently for successfully tackling important topic but I that’s not what I came here for and it’s not enough to keep me around.
I sort of can’t believe I was still watching this anyway. Lily is still life though.
I haven’t watched an entire season of The Voice in a while but I used to at least commit to the audition rounds because the audition rounds are the best episodes of almost every single reality television competition. This year I couldn’t even muster the energy for that small commitment.
Jia Tolentino: I have seen every episode of South Park up until this season, which is especially telling in context of the fact that (1) I have not had a TV in my house since 2005 and (2) watch maybe 90 minutes of TV tops per week (I will add that, though I think this show is extremely quality, maybe this is just telling of the fact that I have spent a lot of time in bed with boys with whom South Park is the only intersection in our TV interests when we’re high). Anyway, I guess 2015 was the year that I stopped feeling that even the smartest, funniest version of “libertarian devil’s advocate” could be in any way one step ahead.
I am pretty stupid and essentially face-blind—to the point where when I was watching Mr. Robot, I knew B.D. Wong was going to make an appearance in some sort of disguise eventually, because I’d seen people tweeting about it, and so with literally every new character, I was like, “Hey, is that B.D. Wong?” even though...B.D. Wong kinda only looks like B.D. Wong. Anyway, being face-blind and stupid used to be an asset while watching Orphan Black—an extremely dramatic show where everyone has the same faces anyway—but I could not even comprehend this season. If you were to ask me to summarize the eps I saw I’d say “What?”
Stassa Edwards: My feelings about GoT could be summarized by one of the many unbearable thinkpieces about quitting GoT and feminism. Let me know what happens to Jon Snow.
Kate Dries: I have a soft spot for procedurals, hot people, firemen and the city of Chicago. These Dick Wolf shows scratched all of those itches, until I realized I was spending two hours a week waiting for episodes with crossover scenes featuring my one true love Brooke Davis and Lady Gaga’s boyfriend.
I have given up on every show your and my good friend Shonda Rhimes has produced: Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and now How to Get Away with Murder. As the years go on, I’ve dropped each show earlier and earlier in its life, and her latest was no exception: I made it through all of Season 1 and just one episode of Season 2 before throwing in the towel. Sorry Shonda; there’s too much for even me to keep track of.
After a strong commitment to Season 1, I must admit at this point my ability to care about each new twist has dropped in Season 2. I may return but the outlook does not look good.
You kill off my favorite bald head, I don’t see much a point of watching any longer.
Technically I stopped watching this one in 2014, but as Season 3 premiered, it became abundantly clear that after reading a horrifying compilation of stories from incarcerated women, it would be difficult if not impossible to continue watching the much-beloved OITNB and find it remotely funny or enjoyable.
Julianne Escobedo Shepherd: To be frank, I now stop watching this show regularly about three or four weeks in, with intermittent viewings throughout, but this season Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s overt flirtation was so incorrigible I found myself throwing my remote at my television in protest. Of course, the flirting only commenced after their publicists confirmed their romance, which is fine but also made it seem like a very conveniently timed ratings grab. Relationships have begun under more cynical auspices, I guess.
Clover Hope: The cancellation and move to Hulu made it easy to stop paying attention, but even if I did keep watching, I’d have no interest in following the Mindy and Danny baby storyline. As a couple, they were great together at first but it quickly got boring. Their relationship makes a strong a case against satisfying the cliche will-they-or-won’t-they plot line too soon.
The reverse problem that plagued The Mindy Project is what made this unwatchable to me. Everything seemed to fall apart once Nick and Jess broke up. Not to mention, Coach’s presence always felt off to me, comedically. It was one too many voices and he didn’t gel that well with the cast.
These shows were simply a casualty of my DVR cleanse. Every so often I take stock of my recording habits and get rid of all the shows that failed to hold my interest. I didn’t feel like catching up on either of these.
Ellie Shechet: Quantico, which premiered this fall, was never going to be a forever show for me. It was more of an “Ooh, should we watch Quantico tonight? Would that be weird?” kind of show. Despite the supreme goddess that is Priyanka Chopra, and the fact that a hypersexualized FBI training program is one of my favorite TV setups ever—part thriller mystery, part Flirt Camp!—it just couldn’t hold my interest. Shelby’s hair extensions are awful, the twins’ plotline makes no sense, and the main love interest is possibly the only character I’m not attracted to. Quantico isn’t a bad show, to which it owes a considerable debt to the talent and charisma of its lead, but it’s not a particularly good one, either.
It’s still early days for Trevor Noah, so, sure, it’s possible that I might regain my lapsed interest. He has had exceptional shoes to fill, however, and so far his performance has been restrained, unimaginative, and pretty fucking dispassionate. The emotional catharsis Jon Stewart hurled at us four nights a week for nearly 20 years has steadily deflated back into its original scripted form; the jokes, when they’re good, are just so clearly not Trevor Noah’s jokes—his jokes, as we’ve warily discovered, are somewhat lacking. The heat isn’t there anymore.
Joanna Rothkopf: I lost my Showtime log in information and I honestly don’t know how else to access it.
I have always had an unusual amount of patience for SNL’s goof-ups. I semi-idolize many of the cast members, and seeing them crack up at a sketch that is less-than-great is often enough to make my viewing experience worth it. And the digital shorts have been so great recently! But then, I volunteered to watch the Donald Trump-hosted episode this November. The only conceivable explanation I can think of for that disaster is that NBC pressured the show into having him on for ratings, and the writing staff staged a peaceful protest by writing him trash. Still—there was seemingly no apology, no self-referential eye rolls or we get it, we’re sorry asides. The whole experience so deeply appalled me that I have found myself unable to watch the remaining episodes this season. I just cannot do it, and that’s that.
Emma Carmichael: For a spell there, I watched a weird amount of House Hunters (mostly International, come on). I enjoyed imagining having millions of dollars to spend on a house in Mallorca, I enjoyed judging the participants’ tastes, and I enjoyed watching the real estate agents dish out “is this bitch for real” side-eyes. I really enjoyed the episode where the 21-year-old college grad’s father buys her a million-dollar apartment in Paris and she says the phrase “Bohemian chic” about once a minute. As my friend Jenna pointed out over drinks once, the show made you “feel like you’d accomplished something” after watching a formulaic-as-ever episode, even if you hadn’t done shit. I enjoyed all of this until one day I decided to Google how the show really works. I will not spoil it for you here; just know that it was enough to make me stop watching, entirely, all at once, and I don’t regret it. Google at your own risk.
Two life skills I have perfected over the years:
- Knowing to leave the bar before the lights come on
- Knowing when to quit a TV show
There are moments in every beloved TV show when we all should have known it was time to stop streaming. In Lost, for example, I gave up the episode where they had to keep pressing that stupid fucking underground button to stay alive. In Grey’s Anatomy it was the episode where the two survivors of a train crash are stuck together via a pole through their torsos, and only one of them can survive. I cried, but I also stopped watching the show (I sometimes regret this). I watched all of Friday Night Lights some years ago and decided to re-watch it this fall; I made it to episode 5 of Season 2 before I remembered, oh right, Season 2 of FNL is absolute garbage. (In show creator Peter Berg’s words: “It was a disaster.” Actor Jesse Plemons: “I never imaged Season 2 to go like it did.”). So I skipped it! I didn’t quit, because FNL is great, but I went straight from that episode to Season 3. I can’t recommend this show hack enough. Skip Season 2 of Friday Night Lights for a good time.
Hillary Crosley Coker: After they dragged last season’s carnival theme across my television screen for way too long, I couldn’t give Ryan Murphy another shot at wasting my time. Sorry Sarah Paulson, I still love you boo.
There are just too many good shows and not enough waking hours. I love The Americans, but in trying not to entertainment-cheat on my husband by watching it without him, I just fell behind. Maybe on Christmas day I’ll be able to catch up. *pulls on a wig, bites down on fake teeth and slips in colored contacts*
The first episode (THE VERY FIRST!) includes a pregnant woman’s belly being cut open in front of a stadium classroom filled with people. As a knocked up woman myself, I couldn’t do it, Clive Owen crush be damned.
Kelly Faircloth: This isn’t really a reflection on Empire, so much as it’s a reflection of my own sad, chronic inability to commit to long-term storytelling. Plus I’ve only got room for one network TV show full of attractive people doing increasingly improbable things, and Quantico hijacked that spot this year.
This is a reflection on True Detective. I got approximately 15 minutes into the new season and bailed. Turns out True Detective wasn’t my thing; it’s just that deep South neo-noir directed by Cary Fukunaga was.
Bobby Finger: I don’t mean I stopped watching them entirely, just that I avoided watching them during their initial runs so that I would be able to enjoy them at my own pace. The first seasons of both included some of my favorite TV moments in some time, and I couldn’t bear the thought of being teased week after week for the continuation of stories I care so deeply about. I can’t wait to watch them both over the holidays.
Madeleine Davies: Did the same thing with American Horror Story: Freak Show—tuned into the first few episodes, dug the style, but spent most of the time it was on checking Instagram or reading Twitter on my phone. Not even Evan Peters calling cocaine “Bolivian racing powder” is his jazzy old-timey accent was enough too keep me tuned in.
I gave up on the UK murder mystery Broadchurch halfway through the Season 1 finale because the killer turned out to be exactly who I thought it was from the first episode and I hate being smarter than detectives on TV.
I wanted to because [see above], but couldn’t because I had to keep covering it for my big stupid job.
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