Even though shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad have remained evergreen years after they ended, some shows haven’t aged nearly as well. While society moves forward, some series get left in the dust despite the fact that they were extremely popular in their own time.
From sitcom classics like Friendsto sci-fi / fantasy epics like Lost, viewers found a myriad of reasons to tune out from shows that they once loved. With so many dated shows to pick from, users on Ranker took to the site to upvote the shows that they thought aged most poorly.
Though it is considered one of the best sitcoms of all time, Friends is not without its problems when looked back on from a modern perspective. The show follows the lives of six young people who all live in the same building and pursue their lives in the intense world of New York City.
It launched the careers of stars like Jennifer Aniston, but it nevertheless made several marginalized groups the butt of the joke. In the mid-90s, much of the humor was acceptable, but now it can come off as offensive and very much of its time. If the rampant body-shaming was not enough, characters’ sexual preferences and genders are exploited for jokes in a bevy of episodes.
Home Improvement (1991-1999)
While most fans of the show look back fondly on Tim “the Toolman” Taylor’s antics, Home Improvement fails to stand up when revisited for too long. The show follows a man who hosts his own home improvement-themed show while balancing his life as a TV personality and the difficult world of parenthood.
Home Improvement‘s biggest problem is in its treatment of its female characters. Tim is often shown to be a bit of a misogynist, which could be a character trait that is explored, but instead the show seems to adopt his worldview as its own. If the series had taken advantage of his character flaw to tell interesting stories, it would have been ahead of its time. Instead, the audience is simply supposed to think it’s funny and laugh along.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999)
Sci-fi and fantasy shows often fall the hardest when they are seen in retrospect, and shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys are downright cringeworthy. The series follows the life of the Demi-god Hercules as he traverses the countryside looking for adventure.
For its time, Hercules was a compelling and exciting piece of television, and its companion series Xena: Warrior Princess was equally well-loved. However, when compared to the technological advancements of modern television, Hercules seems incredibly weak. Its lack of an overarching story also makes it hard to rewatch, as the audience has very little to latch onto from episode to episode.
Long before Marvel and DC would turn their sights to TV, Heroes attempted to tell compelling superhero stories on the small screen. The show follows a disparate group of people from around the globe who discover that they suddenly possess an array of superpowers.
The show was a ratings juggernaut during its original run, but that could not help it last beyond its meager four-season stint. A lot of fans remember Heroes‘many exciting plot twists and its compelling characters, but they fail to remember just how cheesy it all was. If the failed reboot was any indication, the concept of Heroes was perfect for 2006, but could not stand up to scrutiny in the following decade.
Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001)
Resurrected during the cringe-inducing era of Chuck Norris jokes in the mid-2000s, Walker, Texas Ranger was never really more than fluff TV to begin with. The show follows the adventures of Cordell Walker, a tough-as-nails Texas Ranger who goes above and beyond to stomp out crime.
Cheesy even in its own time, Walker, Texas Ranger was more like a show from the late 1970s than a show from the edgy ’90s. In a decade that was known for its angsty, anti-authority image, the show attempted to capture a bit of law and order, but mostly came off as silly. Even though Chuck Norris is recognized as one of the greatest action stars of all time, his run on Walker was anything but thrilling.
Sitcoms are usually expected to be light TV entertainment, but sometimes a show is given an opportunity to do more. Blossom follows a young teen who has her life thrown into disarray when her mother walks out on the family.
With a premise as ripe for drama as Blossom‘s, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to use the sitcom medium to say something about modern society. Instead, the show devolved into stock-standard sitcom tropes and an abundance of silly humor. Fans who look back on the show fondly probably ascribed a lot more meaning to it than was actually presented by the writing.
Family Matters (1989-1998)
Some shows suffer from their own success, and they become defined by one small aspect of a larger picture. Family Matters concerns the Winslow family as they deal with day-to-day struggles and the weird antics of their neighbor Steve Urkel.
In its time, Family Matters was one of the most dominant shows on TV, and it practically conquered the airwaves for an entire decade. However, in retrospect, it is clear that the show went from being a family comedy to being a platform for the character of Steve Urkel. While viewers were eating up Urkel’s weekly shenanigans in the ’90s, when seen now, the show very quickly becomes a one-note affair.
Just Shoot Me! (1997-2003)
Most nostalgic shows carry some sort of audience forever, and fans frequently return to revisit classic episodes from their past. However, some do the exact opposite and disappear almost immediately after airing. Just Shoot Me! takes place in the halls of a high fashion magazine, and follows a young woman who attempts to break into her father’s business.
In its time it was remembered for its snarky humor, particularly the performance from David Spade, but through modern eyes, Just Shoot Me! is incredibly problematic. The main character’s attempt to bring feminism into the world of fashion is made the butt of many jokes, and the show often pits its female characters against one another in petty and demeaning squabbles.
Lost is often credited for starting a TV revolution, and that assessment is mostly correct. However, that hasn’t stopped the show from aging incredibly poorly. The series follows a group of people who are stranded on a mysterious island after a plane crash.
Though every season of Lost had great episodes, the show seemed to spin its wheels and it ran for too long. When it originally aired, the show was downright compelling, and fans tuned in to see each new wrinkle of the interesting mystery. In retrospect though, the plot was incredibly flimsy and many of the details were underdeveloped compared to the way TV is written today.
No one was kidding themselves when they watched Baywatch during its original run, and what made it beloved in the ’90s is what has helped it age poorly in retrospect. The show tells the story of a group of professional lifeguards who spend their days saving people and navigating their complicated social lives.
The show ran for over a decade, but it is mostly remembered for its unabashed eye toward sex appeal. For all of its cheesy melodrama, the series leaned heavily on its character’s physiques and it seemed as if both male and female characters were objectified at the same rate. Outside of that, the show had almost nothing else to offer viewers in regard to compelling television.
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