And with every action, there is reaction. And with the great, there is also the horrible. These were the shows that were more than disappointing. They were just bad; though for all the good television in the year 2020, these just didn’t live up to expectations.
For what I loved this year, you can see that list here.
Here we are again, and shame on me this time. After two awful seasons, what made me think that the third would be better? Well, bringing in Aaron Paul as a veteran with PTSD symptoms and a penchant for criming was going to help; giving Tessa Thompson more screen time should’ve fixed a lot; taking the show out of the “Westworld” setting could’ve improved it. None of that did. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy reverted back to many of their old tricks from the previous two seasons, which basically boils down to being a show for a Reddit thread to try to unspool. No amount of Marshawn Lynch could’ve saved the unnecessary twists and turns.
If ever there was a tale of an excellent cast hamstrung by its creators and story, it was the Sam Esmail-produced Briarpatch. This show tried its damnest to be some sort of Twin Peaks whodunit, but it landed flatter than the West Texas-by-way-of-New Mexico setting. The show starred Rosario Dawson, Kim Dickens, Jay Ferguson, and countless other great actors, but the only enjoyment it produced was when Jay Ferguson’s character was on screen. Dawson was seemingly given the instructions never to emote and Dickens had little to do than scheme off screen. The worst fault, though, was the quirk on top of quirk on top of quirk. It was pulp with too much “look at what we can do to surprise you!” That’s too bad, but showrunner Andy Greenwald may may learn from his mistakes and come back with a stronger series in the future. Luckily, it won’t be Briarpatch, which saw its end with the one season.
No television show suffered from tonal shifts in 2020 quite like Amazon’s Hunters. This one had no idea what it wanted to be and couldn’t juggle any of its attempts: Comedy? Not unless you think it’s hilarious to see someone eat dog shit (that really happened). Thriller? It never sustained that sort of engagement because it was too busy. Action? Can anything this boring be called an action show? Poor Al Pacino was just about the only good thing here, and he — SPOILER ALERT! — turns out to be a plot twist in the guise of a character. He was the man they were trying to look for all along! He had plastic surgery! This was the weakest bit of writing on TV this year, and it showed in nearly every scene, which is too bad because a show about Nazi hunters starring Pacino, Logan Lerman, Carol Kane, Kate Mulvany, and Jerrika Hinton shouldn’t be this terrible. (Josh Radnor as a master of disguises was bad, but that’s a given.) It really felt like Amazon was feeding viewers the shit with this one. Avoid at all costs.