10 shows that aren’t worth the hype

The cast of Stranger Things stands around a table next to each other.

Are we still living in the so-called Golden Age of Television? However confusing as the term might be right now, it’s undeniable that both streaming and cable produced some all-time great shows in the past decade, like Succession and Veep. For its part, the late ’90s and 2000s kickstarted the trend with outright masterpieces like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.

And yet, while many of these shows live up to the hype, and others are accurately rated, considering their overall quality, a few can be described as absurdly overrated. These TV offerings have received overwhelming acclaim, usually within a determined period, with both critics and audiences lauding them as absolute triumphs of the small screen. However, hindsight will reveal their acclaim is vastly overblown, and, at the end of the day, they’re really not worth the hype.

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

The cast of Parks and Recreation.
Universal Television

Never has a show been more intrinsically tied to its specific time and place as Parks and RecreationSNL standout Amy Poehler stars as Leslie Knope, a midlevel bureaucrat whose can-do attitude leads her to try to inspire all those around her while working in the Parks Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana.

Parks and Recreation is perhaps the best representation of the overly hopeful attitude that plagued pop culture during the Obama years. Thus, rewatching it now means rolling one’s eyes more than a few times, especially whenever Leslie’s wide-eyed optimism becomes too much. In fact, if it weren’t for Poehler, the character would often come across as a caricature, which is never great unless it’s intentional. Parks and Recreation is funny and sometimes endearing, but as a testament to the 2010s, it’s also frustrating, at times annoying, and way too overhyped by those who stuck with it for seven years.

Parks and Recreation is available to stream on Peacock.

The Queen’s Gambit (2020)

Anya Taylor-Joy ponders a chessboard in a scene from The Queen's Gambit.

2020 saw audiences take refuge in streaming to escape from the bleak reality of what seemed like a crumbling world. Thus, every show seemed like a lifeline; average projects looked good, and great ones became outright masterpieces. Such was the case for The Queen’s Gambit, a seven-episode Netflix miniseries starring Dune: Part Two‘s Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy dealing with numerous personal demons.

The Queen’s Gambit boasts flashy production values, a haunting score, and a mesmerizing performance from Taylor-Joy in what would be her breakthrough role. However, the direction is uninteresting, the writing expected and sometimes lethargic, and the resolution underwhelming, to the point where it invalidates everything that came before. Luckily, The Queen’s Gambit features a stellar ensemble that helps Taylor-Joy keep things afloat, but in hindsight, it’s puzzling that this show stayed atop Netflix’s charts for so long and earned as much acclaim as it did. It really was a desolate entertainment landscape for The Queen’s Gambit to explode in such a way.

The Queen’s Gambit is available to stream on Netflix.

The Boys (2019-Present)

The Boys characters standing and looking ominously from The Boys on Amazon Prime Video.
Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has its fair share of hit shows, but perhaps none is bigger than The Boys. Based on the eponymous comic book series, the show is set in a world where superheroes are common. It follows the titular group, vigilantes who target “supes” who abuse their abilities, especially The Seven, the most powerful superhero team working for the powerful Vought Corporation.

What’s funny is that The Boys started as a ruthless satire of the gross consumerism surrounding the superhero genre, only to live long enough to become the thing it once tore down. Amazon is now churning out spin-offs like nobody’s business, slowly turning The Boys from a subversive entry that stood out amidst an overly crowded genre to just another entry in a never-ending, factory-produced line. Indeed, the only differences between The Boys and the average Marvel movie are some gallons of blood and a great deal of F-words.

The Boys is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present)

Dr. Grey and others from Grey's Anatomy season 17 on Netflix.
Image via ABC

If ever there was a show that embodied the phrase “This is still on?” it’s Grey’s Anatomy. The ABC show started in 2005, featuring an ensemble cast led by Ellen Pompeo and following the personal and professional lives of a group of interns working at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. What originally distinguished Grey’s Anatomy from the many other medical shows out there was its emphasis on romance and its willingness to be soapy.

At its peak, Grey‘s was a TV juggernaut, earning accolades left and right and attracting high ratings. However, as seasons went on and cast members dropped out, the show began to shift, becoming increasingly over-the-top and entering an increasingly absurd state of being. In its defense, it’s at least self-aware enough to pull it off, but even its most devoted fans must admit its glory days are long gone. More importantly, rewatching its early seasons makes it clear that the show was never that great to begin with, which probably means it should bow down with whatever grace it has left and stick to being a staple on Netflix.

Grey’s Anatomy is available to stream on Netflix.

Ted Lasso (2020-2023)

Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso.
Warner Bros. TV

Apple TV+ is among the most fascinating streaming services. It has some of television’s most underappreciated gems in SiloFor All Mankind, and Servant, and many of the most overrated shows, like The Morning Show and, of course, Ted Lasso. The latter, based on a character star Jason Sudeikis played in promos for NBC’s sports coverage, follows a Kansan American college football coach hired as coach to an English soccer team.

At the start, Ted Lasso‘s irresistible charm and cheery attitude seemed like an antidote to the otherwise cynical and gloomy entertainment landscape, a direct consequence of “prestige television.” Enthusiasm for the show’s own shameless enthusiasm led to instant mainstream recognition, including back-to-back Emmy wins for Outstanding Comedy Series. It didn’t take long before everyone realized the show was all fluff, and its initial allure faded quickly. Nowadays, the show stands as a perfect example of pandemic content, arriving at the right time and place but working solely within those parameters. Here’s hoping Ted Lasso doesn’t return for a fourth season; we really don’t need it.

Ted Lasso is available to stream on Apple TV+.

Squid Game (2021-Present)

The guards in Squid Game: The Challenge.

From the moment it premiered in mid-September 2021, Squid Game took the world by storm. The South Korean show follows a group of people who, in desperate need of money, agree to participate in a series of deadly children’s games for the chance to win a 45.6 billion won prize.

Few streaming shows have been such juggernauts as Squid Game. It’s currently the most-watched original show in Netflix’s history, boasting an absurd amount of watched minutes that all but dwarves its competitors. The show is thrilling and features an original premise, but it’s far from perfect, and its flaws only become more apparent with the benefit of hindsight. Aside from being plagued by real-life controversies, it also inspired a reality show called Squid Game: The Challenge, possibly Netflix’s most reprehensible original effort this side of Love Is Blind. Like The Boys, Squid Game‘s legacy has become tainted, as what began as a harsh critique of capitalism became another cog in the system, rendering itself all but useless.

Squid Game is available to stream on Netflix.

Stranger Things (2016-Present)

Eleven with modules on her head looking angry in a scene from Stranger Things.

Why is it so hard to make a great science fiction show? There have been many noteworthy examples, but few maintain the momentum throughout the seasons, and most end as echoes of what they once were. Such is the case for Stranger Things, arguably Netflix’s crowning jewel. The show centers on several characters living in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, and dealing with supernatural threats from an alternate dimension known as the Upside Down.

Stranger Things‘ main issue is that it hasn’t been able to keep the same level of quality it had during its stellar debut season. Its ability to craft pop culture-defining moments remains intact — Kate Bush should know it! — but its glory days are long behind. An upcoming fifth and final season will finally bring the show to a close, but there’s no way it can end on a high note, especially considering its past two seasons have seen a considerable decline. Like other shows behind it, Stranger Things suffers from overhyping from its loyal followers. Sadly, once you actually see it, it just doesn’t live up to it, at least not in the way you’d expect.

Stranger Things is available to stream on Netflix.

The Bear (2022-Present)

Carmy standing in a white T-shirt, Marcus in the background in a scene from The Bear.
Image via Hulu

Hulu has a good collection of shows, including some of the best in current television. Yet, the only people seem to be talking about is The Bear, starring Jeremy Allen White as one of the most delightfully pathetic guys in mainstream TV. The series follows Carmy Berzatto, an award-winning chef who returns to Chicago to take over his late brother’s sandwich shop.

The Bear is possibly the epitome of a show whose qualities have been absurdly blown out of proportion. For starters, it’s not a comedy, considering it has more drama than the average episode of Six Feet Under. The writing is good, but nothing out of the ordinary, as are the performances — for example, White was far better in the frustratingly underrated Shameless. Don’t get me wrong, The Bear is a great dramedy, but award shows and audiences keep treating it as Christ’s second coming, which it most certainly isn’t. If you’re looking for an actually funny comedy on Hulu, turn to Only Murders in the Building instead.

The Bear is available to stream on Hulu.

Euphoria (2019-Present?)

Zendaya looking straight into the camera, sad look on her face, in a scene from Euphoria season 2.
Image via HBO

In the early 2000s, the criminally underrated show Mad TV made a joke, boldly claiming, “It’s not television, it’s porn.” While it made the quip about the acquired taste that is Sex and the City, the claim is a better fit for Euphoria, Sam Levinson’s neon-colored look at overgrown teenagers dealing with sex, drugs, and other forms of excess.

Euphoria is very clearly aimed at a very specific target audience, one which I left behind several years ago. However, pretty much anyone can see the show for what it is: an exploitative and profoundly average effort from an extremely egotistical mind only elevated by the talent of its impressive cast. Euphoria exists as an expensive and highly elaborate form of wish-fulfillment for Levinson, quite possibly the best example of that old Hollywood idea of “Here’s what a 30-year-old thinks teenagers are like.” It’s silly at best, questionably problematic at worst, and certainly blown out of proportion.

Euphoria is available to stream on Max.

The Office (2005-2013)

Michael screaming in "The Office."

The Office is a bizarre show. Steve Carell stars as the ridiculous Michael Scott, regional manager to the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch paper company Dunder Mifflin, whose cringe and often offensive attempts at humor provide much of the comedy. Carell is joined by a cast of oddballs that go from the funny to the weird to the outright disturbing.

The issue with The Office is that it has some moments of true comedic genius that single-handedly elevate it to the peak of comedy. However, like many of its 2000s peers, it also aggressively relies on stereotypes at the expense of pretty much every character. Some jokes are great, and others are lazy to the point of being boring. In the end, the success of The Office depends on how funny you find creepy and annoying characters like Michael, Dwight, and Creed; if your tolerance for their brand of awkward, uncomfortable humor is low, chances are you’ll find The Office grossly overrated.

The Office is available to stream on Peacock.