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Top 10 Signs That a TV Show is Gonna SUCK

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Sometimes shows look exciting but aren't, other times new upcoming and anticipated shows end up looking pretty boring when you finally see a trailer or preview. It might not always be easy to tell when a show is going to suck, but the signs are almost always there. Welcome to as we count down our picks for the sign a show is going to be terrible before it even beings. Written by Garrett Alden

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If you see any of these red flags, maybe don’t add the series to your watchlist. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 signs that a TV show is gonna suck.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the likely indicators that a TV show will be bad or that you’re unlikely to enjoy it. These are signs that you can notice even before watching the show itself and they aren’t indicators that a show is becoming bad - as that’s another list entirely. Also, these are general guidelines, meaning there will always be exceptions.

#10: It's a Shameless Copy of Another Show

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but it’s hardly the best policy to build a show around. Rip-offs abound in pop culture, as hopping on a bandwagon is a tried and true method for at least marginal success in many areas. In the case of television though, many copycat shows are inferior to those they imitate, as they often only scratch the surface of what made the originals so successful; either mimicking their premise or their aesthetic, but lacking the quality writing, acting, or direction to equal or surpass the ones they ape.

#9: The Trailer Boasts the Show's Technical Achievements & Nothing Else

Trailers are the makers’ way of introducing potential viewers to what makes a show appealing. Usually, these first looks will tout the presence of a certain lead actor or else tell us how critics are raving about the new series. However, it’s rarely a good sign if the foremost thing a trailer emphasizes is a show’s technical achievements. While good effects and innovative work behind the scenes are important, by playing these things up, advertisers are also indirectly telling us that the storytelling and acting aren’t highlights. And really, it’s these latter considerations that make or break a series - not the camera it was filmed on.

#8: It's a Comedy Show & the Ads Didn't Make You Laugh

As we just discussed, advertisements for television shows typically try to put their best foot forward and comedies are no exception, as they usually feature their funniest or best jokes in their promotional material. So when a commercial fails to elicit a laugh or a grin from you, chances are that the show isn’t funny, or at least that it won’t appeal to you. Humor is subjective, true, and while some shows might be saving their best lines for later, trailers are nonetheless indicative of a series’ general style. So, this remains a pretty solid method of weeding out what will and won’t tickle your funny bone.

#7: It Premieres in the Friday Night Slot

Friday nights are typically the ending of most people’s work week, meaning that they often just want to go out and let off some steam, rather than stay home to watch TV. For this reason, shows that air on Friday often struggle in the ratings department. Although some programs are moved to Fridays to make room for others or due to poor ratings, the shows which make their debut on Fridays are largely thought to be considered poor, or at least risky, by the networks themselves. Of course, it’s safe to ignore this rule if the show aired on FOX - no one really knows how they schedule their shows.

#6: It Premieres Mid-Season

Like our previous entry, shows that premiere at the mid-season mark, or early in the calendar year, are primarily held to be of poorer quality or at least seen as riskier by their networks. After all, if they had full confidence in their performance, the networks would have aired them at the beginning of the season in the fall. Shows that premiere mid-season are often brought in to replace previously canceled shows or those that have gone on hiatus, which is yet another indicator that the network, and by extension, us viewers, will probably consider them second-rate.

#5: It's Based on a One-Note Gimmick

A show’s premise is vital to its success. How interesting or strong it is can make all the difference, as it’s the foundation upon which the rest of the series is built. Unfortunately, some concepts simply aren’t designed for the serialized format. Some shows are based on an idea that’s funny at first or in small doses, but which does not lend itself to creating a series with longevity or quality. These sorts of series might have initial appeal, but you need to ask yourself… how long before the novelty of this premise wears off?

#4: It's a Star-Driven TV Show Reboot

Reboots can be risky in any medium. If the original was popular enough to inspire a remake, chances are it set the bar pretty high. In the case of TV shows made popular by the star power of their leads, this can be especially difficult, as the premise is often not strong enough to carry the series without a star actor of equal caliber to the one who made the first version popular in the first place. Like it or not, many of our favorite shows are buoyed up by their stars, and without them, they just don’t shine as brightly.

#3: It's Based on a Star-Driven or Blockbuster Movie

Like our last entry, adaptations of movies can be tough on the small screen, particularly if they were popular because of their star. However, these issues are even more pronounced in the case of film adaptations, as movie plots adapted for TV face the additional challenge of stretching or reconfiguring to fit the format. Movies tell a concise story, whereas television must be extended or tell new stories that may not measure up to their source material - which, along with the lack of star power, often means that the series becomes formulaic. Of course, having a recognizable star with a reputation for low quality films leading a TV series can be just as bad.

#2: It's a Reality Show Based on a Lie

“But WatchMojo, aren’t all reality shows based on lies?” Okay, yes, reality TV shows are often a distortion of what’s actually real, but some of them are a bit less in touch with the truth than others. In most cases, these deceptive programs are based around some sort of contest, either to win a prize that’s not actually worth the effort or else with no prize at all. If we wanted to watch people try hard and get nothing in return, we can see that at work every day, and with that, there’s less of a sense of betrayal.

#1: It's a Spin-Off with Boring, Secondary Characters

TV spin-offs can be a mixed bag, and it’s largely due to what, or rather who, they choose to focus on. It’s a common practice to focus on secondary characters from the parent show who were a big hit with audiences and who still have potential to develop - particularly if the story didn’t have enough time to focus on them. However, some spin-offs are made around characters who were one-note or uninteresting in the first place, in the hopes that simply continuing a previous brand will be enough to attract an audience. Chances are, if you didn’t love the character on the parent show, their show is gonna suck.

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