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8 TV Shows That Have Become Unwatchable With Age

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, and sometimes, it turns out that the TV shows you used to love actually weren’t worthy—and when we no longer see them through the warped lens of memory, it becomes clear that they don’t stand up. Not all television is built to last, and here are a few old shows that have served their purpose and should never be rerun again.

 
Doctor Who


Before you get too upset, let’s be clear: we’re talking about the original, pre-modern version of Doctor Who. While much of the series’ continuity and long-running themes were established during the days of Hartnell, Baker, and McCoy, it’s difficult to sit through a three- or four-hour story arc with rubber monsters and a floundering Doctor. Sure, some of it has a bit of value for the ridiculous alien costumes alone, but for viewers accustomed to modern production values during an era in which television has risen to an art form, the camp and general plot-holery make the show hard to endure. Vintage Who barely stands up against Star Trek, and that’s some serious camp. Just sit down and watch “Time and the Rani.” If you make it out alive, you’ve probably used up one of your regenerations.

 
Daria


Many kids of the ’90s look back on their grungy years of sarcastic indifference with a bit of regret, but at the time, nothing was cooler than casual nihilism. Emblematic of that attitude was Daria, the Beavis and Butthead spinoff that focused on the duo’s smart, seemingly utterly indifferent classmate. At the time, it was relatable animation for people who were stuck between being kids and being adults. In retrospect, we know that Daria’s unrelenting ‘tude was an obstacle to valuable life experiences, and it can be hard to watch today—not to mention that every other character in the show is obviously a terribly broad caricature of high school stereotypes. And it seemed so real at the time.

 
Scrubs


At its best, Scrubs offered an entertaining comedy counterpoint to the glut of medical dramas on television. And there was even a time when Zach Braff’s Dr. John Dorian was a sympathetic character whose everyday trials and heart of bronze was kinda worth watching… but as the show progressed, Dorian became less and less likable—and less insightful during his endless monologues. Finally, Braff left the show partway through the ninth season, leaving it to limp awkwardly to an anticlimactic conclusion.

 
Full House


If you were like most kids in the late ’80s, you were probably parked in front of ABC’s family-friendly TGIF block every Friday night. And your parents probably hated every second of it, because a little bit of Steve Urkel’s insatiable lust for cheese goes a really, really long way—and Full House’s saccharine morality and terrible puns were always hard to stomach. A hundred terrible catchphrases later, we’re reminded just how awkward and unfunny the original show was, especially now that the series’ continuation, Fuller House, has been given a second season on Netflix.

 
Married… with Children


Pushing against the borders of television decency was a pretty risky thing to do back in the days of Married… with Children, and no one pushed harder than Fox’s original hit sitcom. That level of borderline-repulsive sass was something different in the ’80s and ’90s, but watching the exploits of Al Bundy now, it’s clear that the program was pretty much an equal mix of embarrassingly easy fat jokes and sex jokes… and nothing else. Seeing what Ed O’Neill and Katey Sagal are truly capable of as actors just makes the broad, lowbrow junk of Married more embarrassing to watch. While it has a place in TV history, it should probably just stay there.

 
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys


It’s really hard to imagine a time when Hercules was seriously considered a watchable TV show, but six seasons can’t be wrong. While the sword-and-sorcery adventure was one of the more popular syndicated TV shows of its era, its villain-of-the-week formula, grating soundtrack, and widespread overacting haven’t withstood the test of time. TV audiences have come to expect a sense of continuity in a multi-season TV show, but Hercules completely ignored the linear flow of time and just did whatever, whenever, including rewriting the characters’ own stories multiple times without any regard for the past. Once you have Herc witnessing the birth of Jesus, you’ve gone too far. At least we had Xena…and who needs a plot when you have Lucy Lawless?

 
Rugrats


It may be sacrilege to disparage any classic Nicktoon, but a show that once seemed like a clever look at the world through the eyes of infants has lost a lot of its charm—not least because it’s hard to look past the constant baby talk and the grossly negligent parents. Angela never gets the discipline she needs to straighten out, everyone just keeps on having more babies, and anyone could have guessed that Chuckie would still be just as awkward in the show’s unnecessary continuation, All Grown Up! Until someone comes along to animate the characters as balding, overweight 30-somethings struggling with depression and mortgages, we should probably just stick with Doug.

 
How I Met Your Mother


It’s a sitcom about a dad who keeps his kids on a couch for nine years while he tells them, in great detail, about all of his greatest sexual conquests. The show’s titular question was barely even answered by the end of the series, and in retrospect, the circuitous non-conclusion to the story fatally undermines How I Met Your Mother’s replay value. (The forced in-jokes and cloying humor don’t help, either.) Now that the nine-year nightmare’s spell has been broken, we can live our lives again. Avoid the reruns; go forth and be free.

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