TV Shows We Love to Hate-Watch

You made us love you — we didn't want to do it.

by | December 7, 2016 | Comments

There are shows that you love. There are shows you hate. Then there are shows you love to hate — you know you shouldn’t keep watching, but you just can’t tear yourself away. Here are a handful of our favorites.

The Walking Dead 81%

The Walking Dead - walker (Gene Page/AMC)

RT’s Ryan Fujitani says: Look, I get it. There’s only so much you can do with a TV show when your central theme is “zombies are bad, but people are worse, and life generally sucks.” But The Walking Dead has hammered that point home so often and so ham-fistedly that one wonders if it will ever have anything else to say. I also get that it’s based, more or less, on an ongoing comic book series with no end in sight, and without an underlying narrative backbone to drive its story forward, the series has felt like it’s been spinning its wheels for several seasons now. We’ve seen the same pattern — Rick and Co. find a home, meet bad people, kill bad people, and find a new home — play out, what, four times now? Five? Why do I keep falling for the same trick? These are just a couple of the myriad quibbles I have with the show, so why do I keep watching? This is the worst part: I have no idea. The production values are great, I love Carol and Daryl, and it tickles me every time Rick yells, “CORRRLLL!” But is that enough? I guess it must be.

Pretty Little Liars 81%

Pretty Little Liars - Troian Bellisario, Julian Morris (Eric McCandless/Disney)

RT’s Zoey Moore says: When the writers at Saturday Night Live were coming up with Stefan’s character, they were probably inspired by me trying to explain what’s happening on Pretty Little Liars five years after everyone I know has stopped watching it. This show has everything: murder, text messages, double identities, hot doctors, hot teachers, hot hackers, a jungle kidnapping — I think there’s even a witch in a couple of episodes. It’s every YA novel you’ve never read. Regardless of the bizarre turn the show has taken, this hodgepodge of bad ideas and actors with eyebrows that give me life, I’m hooked. I’m here. I’m invested. I’m on Twitter complaining about the “A” reveal with a bunch of other hate-watching children of the ’90s who also cannot believe you made CeCe “A” when it was so clearly Wren. And come April, when the series finally ends, I will still be here, hate watching and probably crying; both from the ending and the lack of closure I will have BECAUSE IT WAS WREN, MARLENE KING, IT WAS WREN, AND YOU KNOW IT AND I KNOW IT.

Black Box 23%

Vanessa Redgrave, Kelly Reilly in Black Box (Giovanni Rufino/ABC)

RT’s Kerr Lordygan says: ABC’s 2014 series Black Box fills that common void in the soul that can only be filled by a medical drama featuring a bipolar leading lady who slips into spells of dancing in the rain and sleeping with strangers when groovy, sensual jazz tunes flare up to accentuate the undesirable behavior — but only when she fails to take her meds. Starring Kelly Reilly and — wait for it — Vanessa Redgrave (as her shrink), this quickly canceled melodrama could only be faced by staring directly into it like the sun. It was so beautifully atrocious, we had to watch every episode. The poster art alone only partially reveals the severity of the calamitous buffoonery, but the trailer may divulge more of its beauty. It’s not the worst show of all time (Dads, are you out there?), but it ought to go down in history as one of the most priceless abuses of a Redgrave’s talents, no matter the artsy-fartsiness of the cinematography. It can be seen on iTunes. And that may be it.

The Affair 86%

Ruth Wilson as Alison and Dominic West as Noah in The Affair (season 2, episode 1). (Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME)

RT’s Tim Ryan says: There are a bunch of reasons why I continue to find The Affair to be almost completely maddening, but most of them come down to the fact that I still don’t know what this show is trying to do — and I’m not convinced that it knows, either. What was initially intriguing about The Affair was its use of multiple perspectives to chronicle the dissolution of one relationship and the beginning of another, sort of like a cross between Rashômon and Husbands and Wives; however, beneath its sleek veneer beats the heart of a late-1980s erotic thriller. In her review of Nocturnal Animals, Georgia Straight critic Janet Smith wrote that it “feels like a tawdry paperback but looks like a Taschen coffee-table book,” which is exactly how I’d describe The Affair. How else to categorize a show that swings from scenes of painfully truthful marital discord to borderline-incomprehensible whodunit plotlines? Still, I’ve watched both seasons, and I’ll almost certainly watch the third, mostly because I love watching Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Joshua Jackson, and especially Maura Tierney, no matter how infuriated I get with the show they’re in.

Superhero TV

RT’s Debbie Day says:

Dear TV superheroes,
It’s not you, it’s me. I don’t hate to watch you; I hate that I like watching you. I’m addicted to your conquering spirit and boundless hopefulness. Do I need to know what misadventures Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) gets up to each week? Flash (Grant Gustin)? Arrow (Stephen Amell)? Those Legends of Tomorrow? Or the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Do I need to watch the endless TV cycle of executive beatdowns? Not really. Do I eat up every detail of their deeds all the same? Yes. Yes, I do. I could be reading a book, balancing my bank account, scrubbing bathtub grout — but no, I’m debating the will they/won’t they of Supergirl and the series’ latest hotness Mon-El (Chris Wood). Damn you, supers, for making me love you!

Tell us which shows you can’t stop watching even though you hate them (because you love them). Leave your picks in the comments.

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