Netflix has had a lot of success with its original programming – both movies and television series. But its TV shows are really where the streaming service has scored major hits. From House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black to Daredevil and Stranger Things, Netflix has kept its members happy by offering unique, interesting and fun programs that they can’t find on cable or other streaming services. Of course, not every Netflix original show fielded has been a slam dunk. There have been several clunkers along the way too. Here are the 20 worst Netflix original series to date.
20. Friends From College
With a cast comprised of names like Cobie Smulders, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Savage, and Billy Eichner, Friends from College should have been one of the best new comedy series of 2017 but its strong stable of actors is about the only thing this disappointing sitcom has going for it. Following a group of old college friends, as they navigate their messy, intertwined (and often romantic) lives while living in New York City, Friends from College tries to be a Friends for a new generation but lacks the one thing that made that ’90s sitcom so beloved: actual friendships.
Pretty much every character in Friends from College is written as a selfish person who treat each other awfully, which leaves you questioning how these people are even friends. It also doesn’t help that the show puts a heavy emphasis on a misguided adultery storyline rather than relatable early mid-life issues, which only makes these characters even more unlikable. The cast (Key especially) do their best to elevate the subpar writing by being as funny as possible, but it’s still not enough to make Friends from College a show worth recommending to your actual friends (unless you’re looking for a way to lose them forever).
A psychological thriller series starring Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup, Gypsy had the look of an A-list prestige series but a great cast and high production values couldn’t mask what was at its core was just another bland drama. Watts stars as a Manhattan therapist who starts exploring a second life through an emotional affair with a female barista (Sophie Cookson). Gypsy ends up playing out like a watered-down version of Showtime’s The Affair, as its “dual lives” premise ultimately falls flat and is nowhere near as provocative as it thinks it is. One could best sum up Gypsy as having all the necessary components to create a compelling TV drama but has no idea how to employ any of those components effectively. Unsurprisingly, Netflix canceled this expensive misfire after only 10 episodes.
Based on the true story of Sophia Amoruso, a startup millionaire who hit the big time with her vintage fashion brand Nasty Gal, Girlboss is a scripted comedy series that comes off as more annoying than funny. Much of this can be attributed to the show’s main character, as the fictional Sophia (played by Britt Robertson) could very well be one of the most irritating TV protagonists in recent memory. The self-centered and spoiled Sophia makes Girlboss an incredibly frustrating viewing experience and it’s even more disappointing considering Robertson’s performance is pretty good (yes, performance can be good and unlikable at the same time). Based on its premise, Girlboss should have caught on as an empowering feminist series but poor reviews and viewer apathy prompted Netflix to cancel it after only one season.
Netflix has produced several food shows, but not all of them are on the same level of quality as the fascinating documentary series Chef’s Table. Case in point: Cooked, a documentary series that follows host Michael Pollan as he explores cooking’s connection to major world issues such as health and the environment. Sounds like a fascinating and important topic, right? While Cooked undeniably raises the bar on food documentaries in terms of coverage, its actual execution leaves much to be desired.
The main problem with Cooked is that its short length and lack of any real solutions or insight into the issues it highlights undermines its effectiveness. It makes for a viewing experience that is designed to make you feel bad about the food you eat but offers little in the way of alternatives. Cooked’s message of culinary advocacy is commendable, but it will probably leave an awful taste in your mouth.
16. Chasing Cameron
A reality series following social media influencer Cameron Dallas and his life of internet superstardom, Chasing Cameron could have been a valuable exploration of a subset of internet culture many are still trying to understand and come to grips with. Instead, the show is little more than a self-promotional tool for its star, who serves as an executive producer.
One gets the sense that Chasing Cameron is the product of two conflicting creative viewpoints: production team Magical Elves’ attempts to present a “warts and all” look at Cameron Dallas and Cameron Dallas’ desire to show a manufactured version of himself that plays well with his fans. Unfortunately, it’s the latter vision that gets the most screen time and indeed, Chasing Cameron played well with the social media star’s legion of followers. But then, if you’re not already one of the converted, it’s hard to know why you would bother watching a show like Chasing Cameron, to begin with.
Disjointed follows the daily life of cannabis legend Ruth Feldman (Kathy Bates), as she lives out her dream of running a marijuana dispensary with the help of her newly graduated son Travis and other ‘budtenders.’ Now, while that may sound like the perfect ‘binge-worthy’ show for you and your mates, it’s so much worse than it looks. Sure, Kathy Bates running a dispensary is indeed funny from a conceptual standpoint but unfortunately, the show’s writers didn’t get the memo. Other than Bates and Carter the security guard (Tone Bell), the cast is completely forgettable. Making matters worse, the two annoying stoners who turn up in every episode — Dank and Dabby — will make you want to mute the TV and join a youth group.
In all fairness, the show does attempt to shed some light on the medical benefits of medical marijuana, but they did such a poor job, that it will confuse the unaware and turn away the converted. With a better cast and stronger writers, Disjointed could have been another hit for Netflix but instead, you can put it in the bargain bin with the Iron Fists of the world.
14. The Ranch
The fact that Ashton Kutcher has a starring role in this comedy series is quite fitting considering The Ranch is essentially just a Two and a Half Men ripoff, with the key difference being a shift from Charlie Sheen’s Malibu beachfront property to the ranchlands of Middle America. That said, Kutcher and the rest of the show’s cast, which includes Kutcher’s old That ’70s Show castmate Danny Masterson and the always fantastic Sam Elliott, are the least of The Ranch’s problems. The most glaring fault with this formulaic show is that it tries to strike a balance between being a traditional sitcom (laugh track and all) and a more edgy, topical brand of comedy offered by something like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia but ends up doing both formats a disservice.
The other main issue is that The Ranch largely wastes the talents of its cast, especially when it comes to Kutcher and Masterson who, despite their best efforts, can’t seem to achieve the chemistry they shared back in their That ’70s Show days. The Ranch had the potential to become one of the better sitcoms on not just Netflix, but television as a whole but with so many better comedic offerings out there, it’s hard to want to waste the time on the antics of the Bennett clan.
13. Haters Back Off
Billed as a comedy, Haters Back Off is more cringe-worthy than funny, focused on an unlikeable character and central concept that just can’t sustain a longer episode format. The series follows fictional YouTube star Miranda Sings as she attempts to launch her online career. The conceit is that Miranda is so bratty and overconfident that she’s unaware how lacking in talent she is when it comes to singing, dancing, acting, and modeling. That being said, the actress/creator behind Miranda Sings, Colleen Ballinger, is undeniably talented and specific audiences will find a lot to enjoy about the show’s particular brand of comedy. The best litmus test is to watch a two-minute Miranda Sings YouTube clip; if you can make it through that and enjoy it, you’ll probably like Haters Back Off. Otherwise, it’s probably best to save yourself the headache and move on to something else.
Netflix’s first French original production, Marseille is a procedural crime drama starring Gerard Depardieu as the long-serving mayor of Marseille as he enters into a war of succession with his former protege, Lucas Barres (Benoit Magimel). Anyone who has watched a lot of procedurals knows that there are some distinct differences between ones produced in the United States and the UK when it comes to the subject matter and visual styles, so one would assume that a French production like Marseille would have a distinctly Francophone flavor.
However, outside of the setting, there is almost nothing unique about Marseilles, a show that borrows liberally from American dramas to the point where even it’s opening credits feel like they were stolen from the latest edition of Law & Order. In a market already crowded with many excellent European crime dramas, Marseille is certainly not worth your time unless you’re especially fond of cliched writing, hammy dialogue, or an overwhelming desire to see some (admittedly lovely) shots of the Marseille cityscape.
11. W/ Bob & David
Let us say off the top that we wanted to like this series, as it is an update (or continuation) of the cult sketch comedy series Mr. Show with Bob and David that aired on HBO in the late 1990s. It also stars Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame and David Cross, who plays Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development. Like a lot of fans of Mr. Show, we were primed for W/ Bob & David to revive the greatness of that series and update it for the 21st Century. Sadly, as is often the case with projects like this one, too much time has passed since the original series aired. Both Odenkirk and Cross (who were unknowns when Mr. Show debuted on HBO) are considerably older now and known for other work, and the sketch comedy format just doesn’t seem to translate well to a streaming service. The jokes seem flat and stale, and several of them were simply resurrected from the old Mr. Show series. W/ Bob & David ended up being a disappointment.
10. Chelsea Does
Another Netflix original that seems to suffer from its formatting is Chelsea Does. Billed by Netflix as a “documentary series,” Chelsea Does follows comedian Chelsea Handler as she explores different subjects – from marriage to drugs to Silicon Valley. Just how does Handler tackle these subjects? Well, she mostly sits around talking to her friends, most of whom are other comedians, as well as some of her family, and a few psychologists. The whole set-up and “handling” (pun intended) of the series are strange. It’s not a traditional documentary and it’s never very funny. Only four episodes of the series were made for Netflix when it debuted in January 2016 and no plans for a second season of the show have been announced. That’s probably best, as the whole project is pretty lame and you’re never quite sure why you’re watching Handler discuss racism with Reverend Al Sharpton.
9. Marco Polo
Another series we wanted to like is the big-budget Marco Polo. Netflix spent nearly $100 million producing the first season of this historical drama about the famed explorer. And that kind of spending generated a lot of hype, leading up to the 10 episode freshman season dropping on the streaming service. Alas, the ambitious project ended up being a letdown. Viewers seemed indifferent while critics were harsh; labeling the show that follows Marco Polo through 13th-century China as “lifeless,” “sluggish” and “empty.” Many critics labeled this show a Game of Thrones rip-off. The whole thing feels like an expensive debacle. Yet despite the lackluster performance, Netflix renewed the show for a 10 episode second season, which premiered on July 1, 2016. It was officially canceled for good in December 2016.
8. Richie Rich
Generally speaking, the track record for anything associated with Richie Rich is not great. The comic book source material was never that good, to begin with, and only really appeals to very young readers. A 1994 movie starring Macaulay Culkin was atrocious. So there was no reason for folks at Netflix to think that a live-action program of Richie Rich would work. Nevertheless, this show probably didn’t deserve the lambasting it took online. Internet trolls had a field day with this Netflix original, which stared tween actor Jake Brennan as the world’s richest kid. Unlike the comics, Richie Rich in this series is a self-made “trillionaire,” and lives in a mansion filled with toys, contraptions, and a robot maid. The whole show is a mess and comes off like a terrible live-action Disney program. Richie Rich was part of a partnership with DreamWorks to boost Netflix’s original kid’s programs. It ran for two seasons before Netflix quietly canceled the program.
Another muddled and weird Netflix original program is Between, a sci-fi drama about a pregnant teen (Jennette McCurdy) in the small town of Pretty Lake who discovers that a plague has killed everybody over the age of 21. The series is co-produced by Canada’s CityTV, which is an odd partnership. However, Between is also different in that its episodes air on a week-by-week basis, rather than being released all at once like almost every other Netflix original series. Critics and viewers don’t seem to think it’s worth waiting for the next episode to land. Though the acting has gotten a little bit of praise, most reviewers criticize the series for lacking depth and any kind of interesting storyline. The Hollywood trade magazine Variety called Between “an utterly ho-hum addition to Netflix’s original lineup.” Still, the series has been renewed for a second season.
Actor and comedian Will Arnett are great. And when it was announced that he was reteaming with Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz for a Netflix original series, people got excited. But the Netflix show that resulted proved to be a serious disappointment. The eight-episode first season of Flaked follows Arnett as a self-appointed “guru” named Chip who falls for the object of his best friend’s desire. It’s not that funny and not that dramatic; Flaked depicts grown men acting like children. There also doesn’t seem to be enough of a story to justify an entire series, which might explain why it only has eight episodes. Entertainment Weekly summed it up best when they said that Flaked is “too cute to be serious and too lame to be funny.” Of course, the show has been renewed for a second season anyway (but it’s only six episodes).
5. Grace and Frankie
Actresses Jane Fonda and Lili Tomlin have a history together. They starred in the 1980 movie 9 to 5, you may recall. So perhaps it seemed natural to put these two aging starlets in a Netflix original series about two women who try to pick up the pieces together after their husbands announce that they are gay lovers and have been having an affair behind their wives backs for years. This concept may sound like it has potential, but Grace and Frankie have been plagued by mixed reviews and fan criticism. Some critics claim that the show is well-acted, while others say it suffers by trying to be a comedy. The second, more dramatic season seems to be getting a better reception than the first. But still, we wonder how long this show can continue given the advancing age of its stars and the fact that it can’t seem to decide if it wants to make viewers laugh or cry.
4. Hemlock Grove
Hemlock Grove was Netflix’s attempt at a horror-thriller. And while we applaud the effort, we can’t endorse the end product. The show is based on Brian McGreevy’s novel of the same name, and, like the book, it examines the strange happenings in Hemlock Grove, a fictional town in Pennsylvania. Starring actors Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron, the show follows a wealthy heir and a newcomer to town as they work together to shed light on a series of brutal murders. Hemlock Grove was one of Netflix’s first original titles, premiering just after the acclaimed House of Cards. Yet Hemlock Grove sunk where House of Cards soared. The series was universally panned by critics, who called out the show for its poor acting and slow pace. Time magazine even named Hemlock Grove one of the worst ten shows on television in 2013. Despite the widely criticized first season, the show was renewed for two more seasons before finally getting axed in 2015.
3. Iron Fist
While more recent efforts like The Defenders and The Punisher can largely be seen as a return to form, there was a point not so long ago there where Marvel’s Netflix offerings were on the serious decline. Luke Cage squandered its strong first half with a meandering final batch of episodes that tested viewers’ patience but that series looks like a masterpiece compared to what came next. With its mystical/supernatural-themed source material, Iron Fist could have been something special in the Marvel Netflix universe but instead, it’s a 13-hour slog filled with bad writing, shockingly poor fight scenes, and an absolute snoozefest of a lead character in Danny Rand.
It doesn’t help that Finn Jones turns in a performance that features all the charisma of a wooden door, making it all the more difficult to invest in Rand’s war against The Hand — the mysterious ninja order that, fittingly enough, dragged down the final third of Daredevil’s otherwise excellent second season. On the positive side, at least Iron Fist is largely devoid of essential material, meaning that viewers were able to easily skip it and still understand what was happening in The Defenders.
2. Real Rob
Rob Schneider has never exactly been at the top of the comedy pile, content to ride on the coattails of most successful comedians like Adam Sandler after realizing that no one in their right mind would pay to see a third Deuce Bigalow movie. Real Rob was Schneider’s chance to show everyone that he’s still capable of a) being funny and b) carrying his TV series. Unfortunately, this Netflix Original accomplishes neither of those. Real Rob steals heavily from the concept behind Louis CK’s FX series Louie, depicting an exaggerated version of the comedian’s actual life, with standup sets mixed in, but is a pale imitator on every front.
Almost nothing about this series works, from Schneider’s overreliance on playing into offensive stereotypes to featuring a lead character who is almost completely unlikable. With so many more talented comedians producing better, more insightful comedy series right now (such as Aziz Ansari’s award-winning Master of None, another Netflix Original), Real Rob is about as inessential as it gets and is easily one of the worst things Netflix has produced.
1. Fuller House
This brings us to the worst Netflix original show to date, Fuller House. We’re not saying this series isn’t popular with viewers. We’re just saying it’s bad. Real bad. The main problem is that, despite a wave of nostalgia sweeping across TV-land, there was no reason to make a new version of the popular 1990s series Full House. Yet Netflix did, and we’re all a little worse off because of it. Fuller House has nothing to offer except a nostalgia-fueled appeal to diehard Full House fans. The series follows the recently widowed D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) as she recruits her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber) to help her raise her three sons. Most of the original cast members make cameo appearances in the show, which cutely reverses the situation of the classic family sit-com. But, like the original series, Fuller House is full of bad jokes and silly scenarios. The Boston Globe wrote: “Fuller House never justifies its existence, let alone why the uninitiated should give it a chance.” That about sums it up. Yet, Fuller House is currently one of Netflix’s most widely-watched series on Netflix, and more episodes have dutifully been ordered.