Skip To Content
    Updated on Sep 19, 2020. Posted on Sep 16, 2020

    15 TV Shows That Probably Should Not Have Aired

    How did anyone think these were a good idea?!

    We're lucky to live in an era of some pretty great TV shows. But it hasn't always been that way. For all the terrific shows in the world, there are a few that are decidedly less so.

    CBS

    Here are a few shows that had some...questionable premises, to say the least. Some might even make you wonder how they got on the air to begin with.

    1. Cavemen (2007)

    ABC

    Do you remember those GEICO caveman commercials that had the slogan "So easy a caveman could do it"? Well, they made a TV show about them. Does a 30-second commercial not seem like enough to build a whole show around? You'd be right to think so.

    Cancellation: It was canceled after 13 episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    2. Cop Rock (1990)

    Sheryl Crow in Cop Rock
    ABC

    Law and Order and Glee somehow went back in time to 1990 and had a baby. That baby is this show. Eventually Glee would come along and nail the form of the musical TV series, but Cop Rock and its blend of rock music, musical theater, and police drama (yes, all of these) missed the mark. The middle woman in the image is Sheryl Crow, singing as an undercover police officer.

    Cancellation: It was canceled after 11 episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    3. Man Up! (2011)

    ABC

    Three men hate their lives and feel like they've been emasculated because they do things like help raise their children and listen to their wives. I'm sorry if that sounds like a bummer because it is meant to be a comedy. Man Up!'s short run followed Will, Craig, and Kenny as they figured out how to be "real men" again.

    Cancellation: It was canceled after 13 episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    4. I Wanna Marry "Harry" (2014)

    Fox

    Imagine if Prince Harry (pre-Meghan, of course) starred in his own version of The Bachelor. Now imagine if, instead of Prince Harry, the lucky bachelor was actually a Prince Harry lookalike named Matthew Hicks. This fake Prince Harry made the contestants fall in love with him and revealed that he was not, in fact, the Duke of Sussex in the final episode. I don't know how a show like this could be legal since Prince Harry is a real person, but there you have it.

    Cancellation: Eight episodes of I Wanna Marry "Harry" were filmed, but only four aired.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    5. Who's Your Daddy? (2005)

    Fox

    In each episode of Who's Your Daddy, an adult who had been put up for adoption as a baby would stand in a room with 25 men and try to guess which one was their father. If the subject guessed correctly, they'd win $100,000, but if they guessed incorrectly, then the person that they incorrectly selected would get the money. It was super controversial, which does not surprise me one bit.

    Cancellation: Six episodes were produced in 2005, but only the first one aired due to the blowback.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    6. The Proposal (2018)

    ABC

    The Proposal is like The Bachelor, but instead of picking someone at the end of the season, the bachelor/bachelorette picks someone to propose to by the end of the episode. Each episode ran like a beauty pageant, with groups of contestants being eliminated after each round until there were only two left. I actually watched the first episode of The Proposal and remember being deeply uncomfortable as a group of women walked around a stage in bikinis while the bachelor decided which ones he'd eliminate WITHOUT EVEN SPEAKING TO THEM.

    Cancellation: The Proposal was canceled after the first season.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    7. The Briefcase (2015)

    CBS

    Two families experiencing financial hardship are each given a briefcase with $100,000. They have 72 hours to learn about the other family and decide if they're going to keep all the money or share it with the other family. What neither family knows is that the other one was also given a briefcase and that they're both gonna get the money.

    Cancellation: It was canceled after six episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    8. Almost Family (2019–2020)

    Fox

    This show actually had a great cast, but the premise was just a hot damn mess. A fertility doctor gets into trouble when it becomes public knowledge that he used his own sperm to inseminate at least 100 women, and his daughter (Brittany Snow) learns that she has a bunch of half siblings running around (one of them is Emily Osment!). Appealing cast, appalling premise, canceled show.

    Cancellation: Almost Family was canceled after 13 episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    9. Kid Nation (2007)

    CBS

    It's Survivor but with children! What could go wrong? The answer is a lot.

    Cancellation: Kid Nation was canceled after 13 episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    10. Viva Laughlin (2007)

    CBS

    This show was musical comedy meets murder mystery meets family drama, all set in a Las Vegas casino. If that sounds like too many different things for one show to handle, you are correct because it did not last very long. Oh, and it also starred Hugh Jackman and had a brief appearance by Anna Kendrick. The most bizarre thing about this show was the fact that the actors sang along to the original tracks during the musical numbers. For example, you could hear Elton John's voice the whole time during this cover of "I'm Still Standing," and that's just odd.

    Cancellation: Two episodes aired before the show was canceled.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    11. Temptation Island (2001–2003, 2019–present)

    USA

    Several couples go on a tropical retreat with a group of single people to see if they're going to stay with their current partner or cheat on them on national television. As one of the contestant puts it in the trailer, "This is a really bizarre social experiment."

    Cancellation: A sixth season hasn't been announced, so we don't really know what the future holds for Temptation Island.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    12. The Biggest Loser (2004–2016, 2020)

    NBC

    This is another popular one, but you'll know why it's on this list if you ever watched an episode of The Biggest Loser. It turns out that the near-constant body-shaming and extreme dieting/exercising promoted on the show aren't healthy habits. The first episode ever made is on YouTube, but it's difficult to watch.

    Cancellation: The Biggest Loser was on the air for 17 seasons from 2004 to 2016 and was revived for an 18th season in 2020. The trailer below is for the revival. It's supposed to be a gentler approach than the original version, but it's still hard to watch.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    13. Rob (2012)

    CBS

    Rob Schneider starred as Rob, a man who married a much younger Mexican American woman and had to get used to her big family. This isn't the most original premise in the world, but it's not necessarily awful. What made this one pretty rough were the broad, inaccurate stereotypes of Mexican culture.

    Cancellation: Rob, or ¡Rob! as it was written on the title card, was canceled after eight episodes.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    14. Work It (2012)

    ABC

    Two men realize that the reason they can't find jobs is because of their gender, so they decide to dress like women for more career opportunities. Direct quote from the trailer: "Women are taking over the workforce! Soon, they'll just start getting rid of all the men. They'll just keep a few of us around as sex slaves." One of the main characters likes their new boss and uses his disguise to get close to her and comment on her body under the guise of friendship.

    Cancellation: 13 episodes were made, but only two aired in the United States after they were criticized for being transphobic.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    15. And finally, The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer (1998)

    UPN

    Desmond Pfeiffer, a Black man from England, becomes President Abraham Lincoln's butler after he's chased out of the UK for gambling debts. Before it even aired, the series was protested because of its comedic take on the history of American slavery. There are clips available online, but you might be better off just skipping them.

    Cancellation: Nine episodes were filmed, but only four aired. The show's pilot was so offensive that it was never shown, and the show was broadcast starting with the second episode.

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form