32 TV Shows So Bad, They're Actually Good

Weird special effects, odd plot devices, dated references—and enough awareness to make it funny.

tv shows so bad they're good glee
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Good television is a deeply satisfying pleasure, to be sure, but have you ever laughed your way through a so-bad-it's-good TV show? There's nothing like it: An ill-conceived idea, bad acting, hilarious special effects, strange plot devices, dated references, or perhaps a healthy dose of all five...Before you know it, you've made yourself popcorn and are four seasons deep.

Now, before you feel hurt that one of your favorite shows is on here: All of these fall into the category of "guilty pleasure." We like what we like! I'm not here to judge, but I am here to tell you which bad/good TV shows are worth your time.

'Pretty Little Liars'

bad tv 'Pretty Little Liars'

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This show has...aged! There's stereotyping and weird, problematic plot points (like a relationship between a teacher and student??) but boy, if you want to remember what we were all watching in the 2010s, throw this show on and re-acquaint yourself.

'Big Brother'

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This show is being live-streamed 24/7, which means you can literally watch it while it's happening (which is what separates it from, say, Survivor). The Big Brother community is die-hard obsessed with following the contestants, and you might get addicted quickly.

'Pawn Stars'

bad tv Pawn stars

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Even viewers of this show admit it's a guilty pleasure: The show centers around a pawn shop in Las Vegas (it's as quirky and weird as I just made it sound). Apparently, the items that come in can be strange and cool, so just getting a glimpse into this world is fascinating.

'Ultimate Spider-Man'

bad tv Ultimate spider man

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This rebooted Marvel-Disney series was, compared to previous movies and shows, low-quality (think: voice acting, plot, and general effort). But, as a long-running series that contains one of the most beloved superheroes ever, fans still enjoy semi-hate-watching it.


bad tv gotham

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The quality of this show was a bit all over the place, the last season in particular, but the acting is...surprisingly good, in a lot of cases! And the retelling of the Batman story in a modified Gotham universe meant that we had some fun villain origin stories.

'America's Next Top Model'

bad tv America's next top model

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This show was wild: The drama between contestants (and judges and literally everyone in a hundred foot vicinity). The made up words from Tyra ("smize" and "tooch," anyone?). The "makeovers" and increasingly over-the-top challenges. It had everything!!

'Dark Angel'

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If you're curious about Jessica Alba's acting career before she became a baby products mogul, start with Dark Angel. The first season wasn't bad, actually, but an ill-advised plot point in the finale (no spoilers) painted the show into a corner, fast. But Alba's pretty good in it!

'Once Upon a Time'

bad tv Once upon a time

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Like other shows on this list, it started with a fascinating premise (fairytale characters IRL!) and then got wild quickly (wait, Cruella De Vil and Ursula are here now? Anna and Elsa from Frozen, too??). But the show came up with tons of interesting ideas even if execution was...up and down.

'Degrassi: The Next Generation'

bad tv Degrassi next generation

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This show is a well-known guilty pleasure that, despite its not-so-awesome writing that includes a lot of character and plot repetition, yielded some fan favorite characters. It also gave us actors including Nina Dobrev, Shay Mitchell, Stephen Amell, and Drake!

'The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.'

bad tv Girl from uncle

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The TV show that was somehow sillier and less interesting than The Man From U.N.C.L.E., this only lasted one season. But it's a fun little time capsule these days, and unintentionally quite funny. (Like listening to them say the evil entity, THRUSH, a million times an episode.)

'The Mist'

bad tv The mist

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Note: This is not the (very good, very chilling) movie of the same name, both based on the Stephen King novella. This is the one season of TV that was described as "relentless" in terms of depressing plot points. In hilarious news, though, you end up rooting for the mist.

'The 100'

bad tv the 100

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Speaking of up-and-down series, this wild premise (juvenile delinquents are sent back to Earth a century after the apocalypse) evolved into an OTT, ridiculous set of plot points. But fans who love it looooove it, and you may find yourself accidentally binging it.

'Rules of Engagement'

bad tv "Rules of engagement"

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There are a ton of fluffy, unremarkable sitcoms, but this is apparently the most impressively empty sitcom people love to watch and rewatch (while retaining very little of any of the plot and characters). David Spade and Patrick Warburton are in it! So!

'Penny Dreadful'

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The first season or two of this show really tried to be coherent, with retellings of some major 19th century characters (Dorian Gray, Mina Harker, Frankenstein, etc.)—with a lot more sex and violence. The next seasons got wild, but it's still got a lot of those two elements!

'American Horror Story'

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Depending on which season you're talking about, you could be talking about OTT horror fun, or you could be talking about an alien-abducted Amelia Earhart. Check the reviews to see what you're getting into, and watch out if you're averse to (so much) gore, but there's still schlocky fun in here.

'The Vampire Diaries'

bad tv Vampire diaries

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The vampire-human love triangle for the ages, The Vampire Diaries was a sort of Buffy-light experience (also, if you watch and fall in love with the show, it's a franchise by this point). If you want to see hot people conflicted about their feelings, throw it on!

'Emily in Paris'

bad tv Emily in Paris

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Ridiculous premise aside, and ridiculous relationship subplots aside: If you want to ogle some fancy fashion and Lily Collins prancing about in high heels while she does her improbable job, go for it! This is probably the definition of light, frothy, silly, and fun.

'The Librarians'

bad tv the librarians

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Ancient organization The Librarians are trying to save the world from evil! While dressed as librarians! There's also movies and a spinoff, apparently, so that premise wasn't enough to dissuade fans. I'm always happy to see Rebecca Romijn, so sure.

'Southern Charm'

bad tv Southern charm

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This Charleston-based show about socialites mostly consists of parties and people being mean to each other. It's featured plantations, I'll say that much! If you like hate-watching shows and feeling better about your own decisions, this might be up your alley.

'The Bachelor'

bad tv The bachelor

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To quote the Mean Girls musical, it's "that guy who gives those roses to those women." I know this is a controversial choice, given the popularity of the show. It's just that I think that in this day and age, the premise is dated (none of those 24-year-olds want to get married!); Bachelor in Paradise is the more authentic representation of dating (chaos!!).

'Man v. Food'

bad tv Man v food

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Watching Adam Richman doing horrible things to his body as he travels to restaurants to do food challenges is not for the faint of heart (or tummy). It'll simultaneously make your stomach hurt and...actually make you a little hungry, to be honest? I don't know.


bad tv Westworld

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Based on the movie premise, Westworld had the coolest idea and started strong: Super-lifelike robots are inhabiting a park where guests can come and enjoy a hyperrealistic Western environment. Then the show lost its way a bit. But apparently the last season was better?

'Lindsay Lohan's Beach Club'

bad tv Lindsay Lohan beach club

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This was a strange show, with the titular Lohan not showing up all that much and the effect being a Vanderpump Rules-light experience. But if you like that sort of uncomfortable interactions, it's an intriguing look at the strange period before Lohan was back on our screens as an actor.


bad tv goosebumps

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The quality of this show varied from episode to episode—like, it was designed to scare 10-year-olds, and I was terrified, but the quality is not very good. But for a little nostalgia (especially if you liked the books), please enjoy this highly dated spookfest.

'Flavor of Love'

bad tv Flavor of love

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Lol, remember this show? (And remember New York??) I cannot believe this show was only 10 episodes; It felt both shorter and longer. Remember how there weren't enough beds for the contestants? And that was in the first episode! Go watch it.


bad tv glee

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This is probably another controversial pick, since Glee was highly beloved at the time. Really, I'm viewing the show from a modern lens, from the toxic workplace allegations to the fact that some of the pop songs were completely incongruous to the plot (seriously, pay attention to the lyrics on that one). It's as funny now as it was relevant then.

'Walker, Texas Ranger'

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This show had over 8 seasons! Chuck Norris is hilaaarious as the cop doling out justice via roundhouse kicks. The acting is bad, the stunts are bad, the bad guys are hilarious, and if this montage of the most unintentionally funny bits from the show speak to you, watch the series.

Magnum P.I.

bad tv magnum pi

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"Nuns don't work on Sunday." The now-memeified show, which had ridiculous plot points (including, yes, Tom Selleck's character shooting a faux-nun off a ladder) is also a loving ode to Selleck in short shorts and pastels. It was the '80s! Go rewatch it for a laugh!

'Murder, She Wrote'

bad tv Murder she wrote

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Was there ever anything more terrifying to a criminal than amateur detective Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) popping out of a hedge and nabbing them for murder? Many jokes were made about abnormally high body count in the author's vicinity, but within all that silliness is a fun mystery or two.

'Xena: Warrior Princess'

bad tv xena warrior princess

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For queer people such as myself, Xena: Warrior Princess was high art: It was a campy network show that extremely, strongly implied that its lead was bisexual and her "gal pal" Gabrielle was in fact her soulmate. It was never stated out loud, but, like...go back and watch. You'll see.


bad tv dynasty

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Frankly, this whole show is worth going back to revisit Joan Collins' big hair and enormous shoulder-pads. The show started out at about a 10/10 on the ridiculous scale and only went up from there. There's literally a made-for-tv movie called Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure!

'Knight Rider'

bad tv knight rider

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David Hasselhoff talks to a sentient car. All episode! Have I sold you?? KITT, the talking car, is the star of the show, but I always find Hasselhoff's backstory (undercover detective shot in the face and nearly killed and then they reconstructed him a new face) to be just as wild.

Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.