Awful TV Show Formulas That Won't Die

Cut it out, TV. We know all of your tricks. Time and again, your friendly television recycles the exact same formulas and expects different results. Occasionally, an amazing ensemble cast manages to pull a formulaic show out of the depths of dreary repetition, but more often than not, it's just more of the same regurgitated trash slapped together for easy consumption and a quick buck. Give us something new, television, and please stop making shows that follow these tired, terrible formulas.

Awful, worthless reality families

It's as though television has an ongoing need to prove that rich people are people too, but worse. What started with The Osbournes, who were dumb but redeemable human specimens, snowballed into Paris Hilton's fake fame with The Simple Life, the ape-focused suburban documentary of Growing Up Gotti, and eventually, absolute destructive trash like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, and anything involving a Duggar or a thing called a "Honey Boo Boo". Put these horrible broods under a microscope, not on a pedestal. Or better yet, stop paying attention completely.

Hospital dramas

Hospitals are pretty dramatic places even without caring about which doctor is checking which other doctor's temperature. Doogie Howser was cute, ER was even absorbing at times, and Childrens Hospital looks at the miserable genre as a parody of itself, but a hundred doctor shows later, it's time to just chill on watching people die while Doctor Hotstuff makes out with Nurse Tightpants and questions his identity as a whatever for the tenth time. With 14 doctor dramas launched between 2013 and 2016 alone, it's time to vaccinate TV against this nonsense.

Naked anything

It's obvious to see why shows focused on blurred and artfully-blocked naked people might be titillating to people who have no Internet access, but the formula is so low-brow that the pandering is downright insulting. Viewers who tune in are generally dense enough to believe that somehow something exciting will slip through the editing process, but it never does, and everyone just goes to bed sad. From shows that pretend to be art, like Naked Vegas and Skin Wars, to downright stupid "survivor" shows like Naked and Afraid and Naked Castaway, to that show about selling real estate to nudists who just have to be nude during the process, it's enough to make you want to shower with your clothes on.

Internet commentary

It's not clear who decided that funny or weird Internet videos would be funnier or weirder with an off-putting TV host making jokes about them, but that person needs a punch in their one good tooth. The video commentary formula was relatively okay when America's Funniest Home Videos had exclusive access to the raw materials, but now there's nothing new to see by the time it makes it to TV, and Chris Hardwick just makes it embarrassing. Dear Daniel Tosh: the edgelord stuff is so very old. And Failosophy: there's a reason you didn't last past one sad season. The Internet doesn't translate to TV, and the sooner we realize this, the more evolved we'll be as a species.

Adaptation of an animated film

There's no one who ever wanted to see the continued adventures of Otis, the gender-confused cow from Barnyard, but somehow, it happened. We've also been stuck with Madagascar's stupid penguins, The Lion King's grandson or something, and the doomed dinosaurs from The Land Before Time. Animated spin-offs are a weird way to dilute and cheapen movies, which are generally pretty carefully-crafted, singular experiences. Instead, we get 25-minute doses of weaksauce because someone already paid for the expensive 3D models and someone's gotta use them.

Trio of evil-fighting ladies

Charmed, Charlie's Angels, Cleopatra 2525, Birds of Prey—while there's absolutely nothing wrong with girl power, this formula is more often exploited for sassy costumes than used for any actual plot or character development. If there's a studio out there that can actually embrace more than one woman at once as individual human beings, there's nothing wrong with an all-girl crime-kicking squad, but we've got to start getting it right before slipping another trio into revealing costumes.

Manufactured stardom

It's one thing for your talent and hard work to propel you naturally to stardom, but it's another thing entirely to skip that whole "hard work" thing by winning a contest. Even though shows like American Idol and The Voice filter out hundreds of less-than-talented hopefuls, the kind of fame earned through reality TV is still fleeting and sad. How many people can name the winner of P. Diddy's Starmaker or the ghoulish R U the Girl? While it's amusing to watch delusional people fail and genuine people succeed, let them at least succeed in a genuine way and stop trying to build celebrities.

Villain-of-the-week superhero show

Comic book readers are accustomed to meeting a new villain every few issues, and the constant development of a villainous rogues gallery is a standard superhero trope because it works well. Unfortunately, that kind of pacing rarely works when it comes to television, where character development and realism need to be just a bit more natural. Shows like Lois & Clark, The Flash (both modern and previous incarnations), Arrow, and even Gotham are guilty of using the formula. But it's about time that we had a few more superhero shows that focus less on evil superpowers and more on people.

Animated family with dumb dad

The whole "dumb dad" thing can only go so far, and Homer Simpson has already mastered it to an unapproachable level, so everyone else can stop trying. Whether it's South Park's Randy Marsh or The Amazing World of Gumball's Richard Watterson, or Peter Griffin, or Bob Oblong, or whoever, no one is going to do anything new with the dumb dad thing. It's okay for mom to be dumb too, TV writers. Or maybe you could just write a family without any glaring mental deficiencies, because cheap laughs are easy, but quality is hard.