TV Shows That Aged Seriously Badly
Some shows just aren’t made to go back to. I have no doubt, for example, that Riverdale is going to be looked back upon with bafflement and as a cosmic glitch in the space-time continuum – but today (for once) I’m not talking about Riverdale. No, I want to take a look at some of the shows from yesteryear that just don’t stand up to closer inspection – okay, some of these may not be that old, but I think it’s time for me to jam my nose into them and get down to some good snarkin’ anyway. To the list!
Ugh. I watched 24 for the first time last year, at the behest of my practically prehistoric partner (well, he’s five years older than me) who was on a major early-noughties nostalgia kick at the time. And honestly, yeah, I was pretty interested – I can get behind high-concept drama-thrillers that take themselves a little too seriously and have Dennis Hopper in them. But this…this just looks straight-up bad by today’s standards. Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jacqueline “Jack” Bauer in a performance that’s been so heavily parodied since it’s impossible to take the original seriously anymore. Dennis Hopper is really barely trying, and the twenty-four episode runtime feels like a grinding drag towards double-crosses that you figured out six episodes ago, especially compared to modern prestige TV like Game of Thrones and their relatively lean dozen-episodes-or-less seasons. Also, Rick? Rick. Fucking Rick.
2. Family Guy
I have ragged on Family Guy gloriously and with great aplomb for many years now, but I wish to put it on this list anyway so I can gloat about the fact that it’s not just me who hates it now – no, it seems like even those who grew up with the show are getting tired of its non-antics. At almost twenty years old, perhaps it’s no surprise that yelling “A man walks into a bar…the eighties!” isn’t as funny as it once seemed. We’re in the era of post–empty-edgy humour, where warmer, denser comedy like Nanette, Bob’s Burgers, and Bojack Horseman are finding great success. And, in this, Family Guy and it’s endless commitment to jokes that have nothing to say and don’t even have the good graces to actually be organically funny has lost its place. Thank goodness.
3. How I Met Your Mother
Now, this one is an odd one for me, because I used to love this show. Love it! It was billed as our generation’s Friends, but more than that, the meta-narratives and playing with timelines and point-of-view retellings really was my first introduction to all these forms of storytelling. And then I went back and watched it again and…yeesh. Even aside from that godawful ending (but, you know, let’s talk about that), the show just seems so damn miserable compared to how I remembered it. It’s bad-tempered, Barney is a creep with a redemption arc that still involves him emotionally tormenting his beloved, and the show is packed full of slut-shamey, not-like-the-other-girls bullshit that really gives it that distinct pre-woke mid-noughties flavour. Best left unrewatched. Just go look at Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway, instead.
Oh, God. Do you remember how hyped we all were for this? And how good it was when it first came out? I’m right there with you – I thought these were brilliant, anarchic takes on the classic stories that I loved so much, matched with those superb performances from Cumberbatch and Freeman to boot. But then…then that Christmas special. And then that final season. And then that final episode. And suddenly, I was looking back and realizing that this show had really never been much more than some cute gimmicks that basically ignored some fundamental truths about the Conan Doyle stories (Irene Adler falling in love with Sherlock and losing against him, ugh) to slap on post-production overlays and fanservicey peeks at shit they were never going to actually deliver on. Oh, all the while having Martin Freeman yell “We’re not gay!” over the top of the lot of it. Les mots justes.
What shows have you gone back to and found lacking? Let me know in the comments below, and, as ever, if you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon.
(header image via Insider)
I’m sorry to say it, but Buffy has gotten problematic in hindsight.
Basically every time Buffy has sex, the consequence is terrible. (Even her most “normal” sexual relationship threatens to open some kind of black hole that will destroy everything around it.)
The “gay now” bi erasure.
Sexually aggressive characters are always evil (and Faith becomes much less aggressive when she goes good.)
Magic goes from symbolizing girl-love to symbolizing hard drugs. I’ve always disliked this one a lot.
The origin of the Slayer is an all-male Watchers council tying up a helpless girl so she can be violated by demonic spirits. This gives her “power” to fight evil. Her successors live short, brutal lives, still overseen by a council of men. This is portrayed as necessary, even when it’s railed against.
I especially agree about Family Guy. As of late, the cutaways are unfunny and nonsensical and the episodes themselves barely have plots.