The 15 Most Hated Popular TV Shows
Hit series like The Big Bang Theory and Riverdale have some serious haters.
Even the most popular shows have their fair share of haters. In fact, there are some crazy successful TV series that are just as loathed as they are loved, depending on who you talk to. Just ask anyone around you how they feel about shows like The Big Bang Theory, Riverdale, and Glee, and odds are that they'll share strong opinions one way or the other. And there are plenty more divisive series that inspire the same dramatic reactions. Here are some of the most hated TV shows out there that also have fervent fan bases.
The Big Bang Theory
If you're a fan of science jokes and general dad humor, then The Big Bang Theory might be right up your alley. And evidently, quite a few people are fans of this kind of comedy: As Deadline reported, the show had 18 million people tune in for its final episode after a 12-season run. Within three days of its live airing, the episode had 23.44 million total viewers, making it the most-watched non-sports series program of the 2018-19 season.
But though the show broke records with its viewership, not everyone is a fan. In fact, there are hordes of people out there who kind of, well, hate it. In 2018, Stuart Heritage at The Guardian even went so far as to pen an article about "the inexplicably popular geek sitcom" titled "The Big Bang Theory is ending—our long nightmare is finally over." In it, he writes, "The Big Bang Theory is dead. If you need me, I'll be dancing on its grave." Ouch.
On the surface, popular teen drama Riverdale is a show about a group of teenagers doing what teenagers do: dating, fighting, partying, drinking milkshakes at the local diner. But if you watch the comic book adaptation, then you know that the series is also about masked murderers, mobsters, organ harvesting, and literal magic.
If you're new to the show and questioning how in the world people could enjoy watching it, you're not alone. In a Quora thread titled "What's wrong with Riverdale?", user Kenny Nguyen explained that the problem with the series is that "it went from a simple 'who killed him' story with [a] likeable cast and [an] engaging story, to a softcore supernatural TV show whose characters are defined by their sexuality and appearance."
To be fair, the reasons some people have for hating the show are the very same reasons others list for why they love it. In another Reddit thread, one user noted that while they think Riverdale's plot is "beyond crazy," they're "totally addicted to it for some reason."
This Is Us
This Is Us won over the majority of viewers when it premiered back in 2016. And the show, which follows a single family throughout different phases of their lives, has shown no signs of slowing down: Since its debut, it's been nominated for 27 Emmys, 3 of which it won.
But not everyone is a fan of this saccharine NBC drama. "This Is Us continues to reach for emotional heights without laying a proper foundation," culture writer Alison Herman wrote in a 2016 article for The Ringer. And Insider writer Taylor Tobin similarly noted that the "overrated" show "relies on emotional manipulation" but "isn't interested in doing the heavy lifting required."
When New Girl premiered on Fox in 2011, it did so to a huge audience. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show's debut episode brought in 10.1 million total viewers, making it the then-highest-rated show on broadcast during primetime. And remarkably, in an age when streaming services dominate, the show was able to maintain a devout audience for seven straight seasons.
But while some people loved Zooey Deschanel's adorkable portrayal of a bubbly schoolteacher on the show, others really didn't. "Zooey Deschanel isn't quite funny enough to lead a sitcom," wrote Amy Roberts at Film Daily. "We all know 'kooky' is Deschanel's personal brand, but her vibe also smothers the show to the point where it feels like a series of quirks, zany mishaps, and random fun times just slapped together with some glitter glue and unicorn spit."
How I Met Your Mother
The 12.9 million viewers of How I Met Your Mother's series finale might not have been pleased with how it ended, but others hated the sitcom long before that. "HIMYM never jumped the shark, because [it] was always terrible," wrote EJ Dickson at Salon. She listed a lack of character development, shallow romantic relationships, and "narrative gimmicks" as reasons for her negative opinion of the series.
Pretty Little Liars
The Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series Pretty Little Liars was so absurd that it almost makes Riverdale look restrained. (Almost.) And sure, the paranormal presences, the long-lost twins, and the creepy doll costumes were weird, but what was really troubling was the fact that significant plot points were just dropped entirely from commercial break to commercial break. HuffPost writer Julia Brucculieri summed it up well in 2017 when she said that "the Freeform series had so many flaws, and we haven't forgotten about them."
Some people were able to look past these issues, though—so much so that by its final season, the show still had an average viewership of 1.1 million viewers. What's more, Deadline noted that the show's final episode brought in 1.4 million viewers, an 18 percent rise compared to the prior season's finale. At the end of the day, some people just can't resist the allure of a whodunit mystery.
When Girls was on the air from 2012 to 2017, it had a zealous fanbase and even received some top-tier accolades, including Golden Globe Awards and Emmys. Naturally, that doesn't mean the Lena Dunham-led show wasn't without its haters. Even many millennials—to whom the show was supposed to cater—felt that it was "an awful, overrated show about terrible people who do terrible things to each other," as Elite Daily writer (and millennial) Talia Koren put it.
Throughout its 23-season (and counting) run, ABC's reality dating competition The Bachelor has inspired countless memes and punny Etsy merchandise. But not everyone tunes in to watch Chris Harrison and Ben/Colton/Ari/whoever hand out roses. Even Kelly Ripa has said that the show disgusts her. You either love to hate-watch The Bachelor, or you just love to hate it.
Netflix's Insatiable courted controversy even before it was released on the streaming service. Why? Well, it stars Debby Ryan as an overweight high school student who loses weight and becomes a literal beauty queen after she has to have her jaw wired shut, which is… tricky terrain to navigate. People were so mad about the show's alleged body-shaming narrative that in 2018, a Change.org petition calling for it to be canceled received hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Yeah, the plot is problematic, to say the least—and yet, some viewers can't seem to get enough. As Sophie Charara put it in an August 2018 article for NME, "the most shocking thing about Netflix's controversial new 'dark comedy' Insatiable isn't the fat girl gets revenge body plotline or the onslaught of un-PC 'jokes.' It's that audience seem to… like it?"
In September 2018, Netflix surprised the series' detractors by renewing the show for a second season. That season, which was released in October 2019, currently boasts a 100 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ryan Murphy's musical TV series Glee was so popular that it inspired its own fandom of so-called gleeks. Generally, these fans stuck with the show through its six seasons either because of the actors (we love you, Jane Lynch!) or because of the catchy covers.
Haters, on the other hand, could never get over the fact that the series used its songs as a distraction from the absurdity and inconsistency of some of its story arcs. It's "sometimes hard to believe the Fox series aired for six whole seasons," Teen Vogue writer P. Claire Dodson wrote in 2018. Around the same time, a Twitter thread documenting everyone's "favorite terrible glee [sic] plotline[s]" went viral. (Evidently, there were quite a few.)
Game of Thrones
Up until its final episode in May 2019, Game of Thrones was easily one of the most popular shows on television. And it wasn't just fantasy fans who enjoyed the book adaptation: Throughout its eight-season run, the HBO series earned 160 Emmy nominations, winning a staggering 59.
But for every fan that Game of Thrones has, there's a person out there who refuses to watch the show. Why? As Alex Moreland at Metro noted, it's "a program drenched in casual brutality, with little interest in actually developing beyond that." Yes, the acting is award-winning, the fights are intense, and George R. R. Martin's fantasy world is fantastic, but some people just can't look past all the sexual violence and exploitative nudity.
On May 23, 2010, 13.5 million viewers tuned in for the series finale of the sci-fi thriller Lost. During its six-season run, the show about plane crash survivors living on a mysterious island was a breakout hit for ABC, not just because of its talented ensemble cast, but also because people wanted answers.
The people who didn't watch Lost (or who did for a while and then stopped) felt pretty strongly about it, too—just in another way. "Lost is actually a terrible TV show and [is] not deserving of all the attention it got over [its] six seasons," Matt Burns wrote in a TechCrunch article ahead of the series finale. It "has the making of a great show, but there are simply too many loose ends."
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Keeping Up With the Kardashians has inspired numerous spin-offs and launched the careers of several A-list stars, so the show can undeniably be considered a success. However, that doesn't mean that everyone loves the reality series—or the family it follows.
Critics claim that the Kardashians exploit private moments for ratings, no matter how personal they are. What's more, many think that the show isn't even real: In 2017, The Cut ran an article by Mariah Smith titled "5 of the Most Obviously Staged Moments in Kardashian History."
How to Get Away With Murder
How to Get Away With Murder is full of the Shonda Rhimes drama that made both Scandal and Grey's Anatomy successes, but while some people find this appealing, others can't get on board. Rhimes' lack of direct control—Peter Nowalk was the showrunner from the beginning—probably hasn't helped things either.
"Not even beautiful and multi-talented Viola [Davis] could salvage the utter garbage this show turned into," noted Deja Easter in The Odyssey. "It gave us a mix of characters, but inundated their stories with harmful stereotypes of their culture."
The Real Housewives Franchise
It's not hard to see why people both love and hate this Bravo franchise, which began with The Real Housewives of Orange County in 2006 and will soon be expanding with the just announced Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. For those in favor of watching these series, there's money, there's table-flipping, and everyone in the cast is (theoretically) an actual human being just living their life. That's the beauty of reality TV.
Those against the franchise, though, find that the money and the table-flipping actually make it unwatchable. And there are a lot of Housewives haters: In a Ranker poll of which TV shows should be canceled, five of the top ten shows on the list are Real Housewives series.