9 Shows We Stopped Watching This Year
There's only so much room on our DVRs...and in our hearts.
1. The Affair
To be fair, I fell in loathe with this series, which debuted on Showtime last year, after loving the "he said, she said" structure in the first episode. I grew beyond bored and increasingly frustrated with the writers' attempt to make me feel empathy for Noah (Dominic West) — who was cheating on his wife, Helen (Maura Tierney), with whom he has four children — and Alison (Ruth Wilson) — who was cheating on her husband, Cole (Joshua Jackson), with whom she'd lost a child. (Yes, of course, that latter element is fucking terrible.) I certainly wasn't rooting for them, their courtship wasn't romantic, and after a while, I really was only in it to find out why the series was interspersed with glimpses of Noah and Alison being questioned at a police station. The answer, we learned way too many episodes later, was because Cole's brother Scott (Colin Donnell), a character the audience barely knew and certainly did not care about, was murdered. When Noah got arrested for said homicide in the Season 1 finale, I laughed, but sadistically stuck around for the Season 2 premiere. It opened with a dream sequence, and we had to wait 25 minutes to find out Noah and Alison were still together. Then, they danced to Damien Rice. I barely made it through the end of the episode — and I have no regrets. Farewell, Noah. Farewell, Alison. Farewell, theme song, aka worst use of Fiona Apple ever. —Jaimie Etkin
2. American Horror Story: Hotel
When Jessica Lange revealed she really wasn't coming back to AHS after four seasons as its centerpiece, I knew it was the end of an era. And at the risk of the wrath of Little Monsters everywhere, I wasn't too thrilled to hear Lady Gaga would be taking her place. (I mean, give it to the Supreme, for god's sake!) But AHS is one of my favorite series, and I didn't think twice about giving it a chance. That first bloody AF orgy scene between Gaga and Matt Bomer's characters was promising, and Denis O'Hare's fabulously bedazzled Elizabeth Taylor gave me life, but after four episodes, nothing else gripped me: not vampire children, not blonde tourists in their underwear, not Sarah Paulson's character's teeth falling out in a recreation of the nightmare everyone's had. Usually, I have FOMO about missing out on a show I know everyone's talking about, but it didn't seem like it this season. So those episodes are still sitting on my DVR, but not even Bomer's "Hotline Bling" moves are enough to reel me back in. —J.E.
Is it fair to say you quit a show when it only has one season so far? It seems like it should be when the show in question is a Netflix original in which a baker's dozen episodes are dropped at a time. Netflix makes binge-watching as frictionless as possible, so the fact that I tapped out of Bloodline halfway through feels more active a choice than when I forgot that Elementary was on the air because CBS series don't go directly to Hulu. Bloodline looked like a drama I'd enjoy, with its flash-forward-heavy Florida Keys family secrecy and a phenomenal cast — Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek! But not even the promising presence of my beloved Ben Mendelsohn, with the best crumply face in the business, could make this series compelling enough to me. The pace, sluggish even by Netflix standards, and the dreary self-seriousness of the whole affair just turned me off. My viewing petered out five or six episodes in, and I never went back. —Alison Willmore
4. The Daily Show
There are a lot of great things about The Daily Show as a series: It rivals Saturday Night Live in finding topflight comedy talent; its writers approach the news with a degree of skepticism and incredulity often sorely lacking on cable news channels; and it provides a forum for authors and public figures who would likely never get any airtime on other late-night talk shows.
But the reason I watched The Daily Show was Jon Stewart. He had a singular and unmistakable point of view on the events of the day earned from a lifetime of work in comedy and TV broadcasting. Even when the news made it impossible for Stewart to be funny, I found checking in with him every night to be deeply comforting. Every time I've checked in on Trevor Noah's tenure anchoring The Daily Show, however, it's clear that he's reading from a teleprompter and still figuring out what his own thoughts are about the news. Noah comes off like, well, a really handsome young comic who was handed the gig after bigger names with established points of view and years of experience turned it down. Stewart's recent appearance on The Daily Show alongside Noah only made the contrast between the two more stark. Noah may get there eventually, and as the 2016 presidential campaign kicks into full gear, I will likely check in with The Daily Show again. But for now, I've deleted my season pass, and I haven't looked back. —Adam B. Vary
I've been having trouble explaining exactly why I quit Empire after being totally on board for the swing-for-the-fences first season of Lee Daniels and Danny Strong's musical drama. It wasn't like there was a particular plot twist or any major shift in the Fox series that did me in. I'd just...had enough. Empire, and in particular its central, ferocious breakout performance (Taraji P. Henson) and character (Cookie Lyon), has never been a show designed to modulate its rhythms. The Season 2 premiere, with Cookie in the gorilla costume, Chris Rock as a secret prison cannibal, Marisa Tomei as a scheming lesbian investor, and a hostile takeover of a hostile takeover, had more plot than most shows would attempt in 10 episodes. But it also sketched out a circular path of future betrayals and shifting alliances that wasn't that appealing to me. Cookie's triumphant Season 1 return and love/hate relationship with Lucious (Terrence Howard) were all I really wanted from Empire, and I'd gotten my fill. I fell behind, and after a while, I fell off the show completely. —A.W.
I didn't mean for it to happen, my quitting Homeland. And maybe I'll even go back to it, if only because I've stuck with this show through thick and thin, and to give it up now — when it's not actively terrible — just seems stupid. But here's what happened: Yes, we're living in the era of "peak TV," but this fall's scripted offerings tilted, almost uniformly, to being a crop of downers. At night, I would look at what was on my DVR and say, "Shall we watch The Leftovers? Fargo? The Affair?" as my body slumped to the ground. For no particular reason, I didn't watch Homeland's screeners ahead of the season, and then episodes starting piling up. Truly, I thought I would turn to them soon enough. And then! I saw on Twitter that Carrie (Claire Danes) went off her medication! Which I hate SO MUCH, as a plot on Homeland — where it has happened 121 times — or any show. I actively, at that point, decided I was not going to watch this season as it aired, and would wait until people told me that yes, it was worth catching up sometime, or no: run screaming. I've heard both. What do you all think I should do? —Kate Aurthur
7. House of Cards
Do you remember when Season 3 of House of Cards leaked onto Netflix a few weeks early? It seemed so glorious and illicit, and to watch them knowing they would soon be pulled down felt sneaky and fun. It felt that way, that is, until I actually began paying attention to the premiere as an episode of television — because, oh no! Backing up: I have never been a fan of this show, Netflix's least worthy. I've been confused by people thinking it's actually good, and not a trashy yet self-serious soap with high production values. Which certainly could be worth watching, except that it so rarely embraces its campy possibility to full effect. I watched the first two seasons of House of Cards for work, and though it was sometimes a struggle, it was also OK. (No idea what the Chinese plot was in Season 2, though. None.) When the character of Doug (Michael Kelly) was — spoiler alert — killed at the end of the second season, that was fine with me, in part because I don't care about a single one of these people. But also because I cared even less about him. So when the first episode of Season 3, the one I was so giggly watching, revealed that Doug was actually alive, and its entire story was about him trying to get back into Francis's (Kevin Spacey) good graces, I could not believe my eyes. I said goodbye to House of Cards on that day, and will never darken its door again. —K.A.
8. How to Get Away With Murder
I had high hopes for How to Get Away With Murder. It started out strong, with a compelling whodunit plot, a diverse range of personalities comprising the Keating Five, and the morally ambiguous Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). But after the mystery of who killed Lila was resolved and after Annalise's shady husband, who helped drive the show, was killed off in Season 1, HTGAWM really plummeted. Season 2 has essentially been a repetition of the first: Annalise takes on a case to defend two siblings accused of murder, but they're a lot less interesting to watch than the spunky Rebecca (Katie Findlay). And the stakes have felt a lot lower this season: We know nothing bad will ever happen to the Keating Five, since Annalise will just bail them out of any trouble. So I gave up on this show because I couldn't stand another minute of Wes (Alfred Enoch) moping or Connor (Jack Falahee) and Michaela (Aja Naomi King) bickering. And the plot twists — Annalise once dated a woman! Bonnie (Liza Weil) is a killer! She also has a really fucked-up childhood — the gimmicks get old quiiiiick. Not even Viola Davis could hold my attention. —Susan Cheng
9. The Mindy Project
I guess Fox made it too easy for me. When it was announced — for however briefly it remained true — that The Mindy Project would no longer be on the network, I breathed a sigh of relief. There'd be no need to feel obligated to watch a show that made me cringe because what had become the central storyline annoyed me to no end. I was all here for Mindy Lahiri's (Mindy Kaling) quest for love and a work-life balance in the big city, but I simply hated her with Danny Castellano (Chris Messina). Something doesn't feel right with those two. And then they go ahead and accidentally get knocked up?! So when Hulu announced they'd be picking the show up, and considering that I currently don't have a Hulu account, it was easy to tap out. Watching a very pregnant Mindy have a child with the kind of a guy I hate for her wasn't how I wanted to spend 30 minutes of my week. I hear this season is amazing, but unless it's about Mindy and Danny figuring out how to co-parent while Mindy goes off to find the real love of her life, I'm good. —Kelley L. Carter