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10 Failed TV Shows That No One Should Have Approved

Debra Kelly


There are many terrible TV shows that make it to air. There are shows that will make you lose your faith in the human race as a whole, shows that make you wonder why people are famous, and shows that make you think that maybe—just maybe—we’d be better off if the apocalypse did happen after all.

10 Welcome To The Neighborhood

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On the surface, Welcome to the Neighborhood was a reality show that dealt with tough issues like race, religion, and prejudice. Developed as a social experiment and filmed in its entirety in 2006, the show was slated to run on American network ABC before an uproar over its violation of federal housing laws.

The story was based in a Texan neighborhood that took pride in its white, Republican, and Christian populace. The reality show was an experiment in breaking the mold; families who didn’t fit the area’s standard profile would compete to move into a home in a cul-de-sac community dominated by their homogeneous neighbors.

The four-bedroom house would be awarded to whichever family was chosen by three judge families. Families competing for acceptance included a gay couple and their young son, a Wiccan family, a Hispanic family, a family with mother who was a stripper, a family with two heavily tattooed parents, an African-American family, and an Asian family.

The show was ultimately pulled because of outrage from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the National Fair Housing Alliance. Regardless of the outcome, they said, it was extremely dangerous to allow the kind of prejudice and racism that was flung around during the first few episodes of the show to continue.

Behind the scenes, though, the story had a happy ending. The Wrights, the gay couple with the young son, won the home. They now have standing dinner dates with one family who previously condemned their lifestyle, and the teenage daughters of another family are their go-to babysitters.


9 Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay

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In 2004, Fox pulled the plug on a reality show after it too got the attention of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay was a two-hour special in which two men competed against each other for a $50,000 prize. The two straight men simply had to convince people that they were gay.

The official statement from Fox said that the show was pulled from its schedule because of “creative reasons.” The Executive Director of GLAAD was less kind, saying that the show was nothing less than “systematic humiliation.”

In interviews between segments, contestants said that the experience was like living through their worst nightmare. In order to pass as gay, contestants hit gay clubs, picked up guys, and attempted to get second dates with them while reportedly trapped in their own private hell.

That was how Fox originally marketed the show, too. One of the first press releases from the show stated, “It’s a heterosexual male’s worst nightmare: turning gay overnight.” Even though they retracted the press release, people who saw the show before it aired were concerned about the portrayal of gay stereotypes, including one scene in which a contestant says he only joined the wrestling team in school because he liked sweaty men.

8 All My Babies’ Mamas

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Picked up by Oxygen, All My Babies’ Mamas sparked outrage and online petitions for its cancellation well before it aired. The Parents Television Council didn’t just condemn the show, but also any companies irresponsible enough to buy advertising during its air time.

The reality show was going to follow the mishaps and misadventures of one . . . we’ll call it a family for simplicity’s sake. At the center was rapper Shawty Lo, surrounded by his 11 children and the 10 different women who mothered them. Most of the show followed the women as they tried to get his attention—financial and physical—while their children were caught up in the drama.

The portrayal of negative stereotypes triggered outrage. It was called misogynistic, demoralizing, and suffocating, glamorizing stereotypes and images that people still fight against every day. The network tried to salvage the project by stating that they weren’t branding his lifestyle that of a normal family, but instead presenting them as the exception. Several online petitions and tens of thousands of signatures later, the show was canned in spite of Shawty Lo’s attempts to get it back.



7 The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pfeiffer

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The 1998 UPN series The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer was lambasted from every direction. Viewers disagreed about why it was a horrible series, but they all agreed that it was, in fact, a horrible series. The show focused on Desmond Pfeiffer, servant to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Pfeiffer was the only intelligent character in the entire show. The Lincolns were portrayed as sex-crazed, bumbling idiots.

In one scene, Mary Todd Lincoln complains that the Civil War gets in the way of her needs while her husband conspicuously carries on an affair via telegraph. Any way you look at it, Abraham Lincoln and Civil War–era socioeconomics just don’t sound like the ingredients for a winning sitcom. Organizations like the Brotherhood Crusade spoke out against the show for making light of life as an African American during the period.

Others who didn’t necessarily see a problem with the premise took issue with the show because of its lack of comedic value, likening it to a failed Saturday Night Live sketch. Ultimately, the show premiered on October 5 and was canceled on October 19.

6 Good Grief

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Lifetime TV had an ironically morbid series set to air on July 23, 2014, but it was pulled from the rotation when the owners of the mortuary featured in the show, the Johnson Family Mortuary, were served arrest warrants for the abuse of corpses.

Good Grief was supposed to revolve around the mortuary’s owners, Rachel and Dondre Johnson and Dondre’s twin brother, Derrick. The “Undertaker Twins” tried to bring life and fun back into the business of death. However, after the Johnsons were evicted from their funeral home for non-payment of rent on July 15, authorities were horrified to find eight bodies in various stages of decay.

Dondre and Rachel were both charged with corpse abuse (brother Derrick wasn’t included in the charges), a misdemeanor under Texas law. Bizarrely, the day they were evicted—and the day the decaying corpses were discovered—Dondre spoke with the media outside the funeral home and thanked them for all the attention they were giving them, as it would do nothing but boost the ratings of their reality show.

Critics of the show, many of whom said that it trivialized mortality and the process of mourning, were relieved by the death of this show.

5 Who’s Your Daddy?

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Fox has another entry on the list with Who’s Your Daddy?, an unorthodox way for adopted children to meet the biological father they never knew and win some money if they could pick him out of the crowd.

Originally planned as a series, the show was edited down to a 90-minute special featuring only one of the potential families after public outcry reached a peak. In the show, a child is introduced to eight men and tries to figure out which one really is her father. If she’s right, she wins the cash prize. If she’s wrong, the “dad” who’s conned her takes the money.

Not surprisingly, adoption agencies across the country spoke out against the violation of ethics. Finding and meeting biological parents is an emotional ordeal. Even though the show’s creators stated they were just trying to add a little fun to the occasion, that idea didn’t fly.



4 Kid Nation

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Kid Nation aired for an entire season—13 episodes, from September to December 2007. It was canceled in 2008 after its original air date was pushed back amid an impressive controversy.

The basic idea of the show was that 40 kids, aged 8–15, were sent to a ghost town in the desert of New Mexico and instructed to create their own society. If it sounds a little bit like Lord of the Flies, that’s because it absolutely was. The children were presented with wagons loaded with gear and told they’d need to drag everything to camp, about a mile away. Their 12- to 14-hour days didn’t end until they’d killed their dinner, among other age-inappropriate trials. Several kids accidentally drank bleach that was left in an unmarked bottle. Another was burned with hot grease when cooking.

New Mexican authorities weren’t aware the shooting was underway until they received angry letters from parents whose children had suffered injuries. In the meantime, the executive producer of the show stated that New Mexico was chosen specifically for its lack of regulations governing the use of children in television programs.

CBS got around much of the controversy surrounding the series with a 22-page contract specifying that even though the children were paid $5,000 with the possibility to win more, they weren’t employees of the station and weren’t subject to the same protections. The contract also included confirmation that the children were to do whatever they were told, whenever they were told. Parents agreed to waive their rights to pursue action against CBS for things like emotional distress, the spread of STDs and AIDS, pregnancy, or death.

In spite of all their protective paperwork, Kid Nation didn’t have a second season.

3 All-American Muslim

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All-American Muslim was TLC’s attempt at chronicling the lives of five ordinary Muslim families from Dearborn, Michigan. The show ran for an entire season before it was canceled.

Advertisers pulled their support for the show for reasons they never stated directly. Home improvement giant Lowe’s was one of the major corporations to pull its advertising, vaguely saying that the show didn’t meet its advertising guidelines. This was only after it had received letters of complaint from parties like the Florida Family Association, who was concerned about the message they were sending by advertising during a show about Muslim families in America.

TLC received a number of complaints from Christian and Jewish groups that Muslims weren’t portrayed accurately because the families weren’t extremists. Some conservative Muslim groups were upset because the families weren’t Muslim enough. There was absolutely no way for this show to win.

Although the show originally had fairly high ratings and a good number of viewers, interest quickly dwindled. The families were shockingly non-controversial. TLC made an attempt to show Muslim families as they actually are: just as boring as yours.

2 Lake Shore

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If there’s any American television success story worth recreating, it’s Jersey Shore. At least, that’s what Canada tried to do with their epic reality show Lake Shore and—miraculously—they managed to scrape down even farther to the bottom of the barrel.

Their take on the “Shore” concept was to select eight individuals based on their ethnic stereotypes, then put them all in a house together. The cast includes “The Turk,” who claims she hates everyone (especially the Jews) and “The Albanian,” who doesn’t have a problem with people who are gay, as long as they stay away from him.

Just like its New Jersey counterpart, Lake Shore was all set to follow its eight upstanding examples of their ethnicities around Toronto as they drank too much, yelled at each other, clashed over differences of opinions, and then drank some more. In one sweep of a casting call, they managed to find someone who was specifically chosen to insult his or her heritage the most.

The show never got picked up. Networks immediately condemned the entire concept as unbelievably racist just by looking at the teaser snapshots of the cast.

1 Ford Nation

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Photo credit: West Annex News

Toronto mayor Rob Ford has taken controversy and scandal to a new level. In May 2013 a video surfaced showing the mayor smoking crack and spewing homophobic and racist sentiments. He denied its existence. His driver was arrested on drug charges. Toronto police recovered the video, and although they couldn’t charge him with anything, his political career took a dive.

Ford and his brother had long hosted a radio show every Sunday afternoon. Its subsequent cancellation freed them up for some other things, like Ford Nation on Sun News.

The show was advertised as a place where the brothers could talk with their supporters as well as those who were lobbying against them. The show was a massive hit with viewers, but it wasn’t such a hit with production. According to Sun Media, the show wasn’t economically viable. The amount of filming and editing it required was astronomical, and it was axed.

The brothers regaled viewers with stories of support from the public, but marketers and advertisers were less than thrilled with their antics. Some went so far as to release statements distancing themselves, their companies, and their values from the brothers’ show.

+ Heil, Honey I’m Home!

Heil, Honey I’m Home! isn’t like the others on this list in any way, shape, or form. It’s not a reality show, it’s not a news show, and it lacks any semblance of historical accuracy.

The bizarre sitcom follows the misadventures of the Hitlers. Adolf and Eva Braun have moved to the suburbs of Berlin and are quite happy there. That is, until they meet their new neighbors, the Jewish Goldensteins. Hilarity theoretically ensues.

Not only are the neighbors as painfully stereotypical as you could possibly imagine, but the show is filled with little reminders that the writers did, in fact, remember who their characters were based on. Hearing Adolf and Eva argue through the shared wall, the Goldensteins remark that they’re surprised he doesn’t get enough of a chance to yell and shout at work without bringing it home.

In 1990, eight episodes were filmed, but only one was ever aired. Because nothing ever truly dies on the Internet, you can find the first episode on YouTube. It’s done in the campy, over-the-top manner of 1960s sitcoms, but this one misses the mark.

Debra Kelly

After having a number of odd jobs from shed-painter to grave-digger, Debra loves writing about the things no history class will teach. She spends much of her time distracted by her two cattle dogs.

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