The 20 worst TV shows your favorite actors starred in this year

The 20 worst TV shows your favorite actors starred in this year
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Scene from "Velma"; Katherine Heigl on "Firefly Lane"
"Velma" and "Firefly Lane" had strong casts but weren't favorable with critics.Max; Netflix
  • 2023 saw the release of new shows and seasons, but many of them weren't well received by critics.

  • Amanda Seyfried and Tom Holland built anticipation for "The Crowded Room," but the show fell flat.

  • "Class of '09" and "Velma" were packed with big-name stars but never stuck the landing.

From new seasons of returning franchises to brand-new series, there were plenty of star-studded TV shows this year.

Despite their strong casts, not all shows were a hit with critics.

Here are 20 of the worst TV shows your favorite actors starred in throughout 2023.

"Firefly Lane," starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, wrapped up its final season to little fanfare.

Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke in "Firefly Lane."
Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke on "Firefly Lane."Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Summary: Tully (Katherine Heigl) and Kate (Sarah Chalke) have been best friends since childhood, but nothing could have prepared them for the ups and downs of life and love.

Critics largely agreed that "Firefly Lane" had a lot of faults, but Heigl and Chalke's chemistry was not one of them.

"The series is about eight episodes too long, the wigs are uniformly awful, and the writing is barely worthy of Lifetime, but it works in fits and starts thanks to Sarah Chalke and Katherine Heigl and the believable friendship between their characters," Dustin Rowles wrote for Pajiba.

Critics thought Rob Lowe's comedy series "Unstable" was somewhat forgettable.

Fred Armisen as Leslie, Rob Lowe as Ellis in episode 102 of Unstable.
Fred Armisen and Rob Lowe on "Unstable."John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 67%

Summary: The father-son comedy follows shy Jackson Dragon (John Owen Lowe) as he tries to keep his eccentric father, Ellis Dragon (Rob Lowe), from spiraling after a life upheaval.

Though it's not the most egregious release, "Unstable" earned its fair share of negative reviews.

"While the show is very predictable and can become grating with its repetitious comedic bits, when taken in smaller doses, the touching story at the center captures a lot of heart and makes for some endearing watching," Chris Joyce said in a review for Movies and Munchies.

Sarah Jessica Parker returned for "And Just Like That…" as the show struggled to win over some critics.

Sarah Jessica Parker is seen on the set of "And Just Like That..." in November 2022
Sarah Jessica Parker on "And Just Like That..."James Devaney/GC Images/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%

Summary: The second season of "And Just Like That…" follows Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) as they navigate friendship in their 50s.

Though the second season of the "Sex and the City" continuation earned more praise than its first, "And Just Like That…" still stuck out to critics as a franchise that didn't need reviving.

" … The show is still a sometimes annoying and dull nostalgia-fest offset by clumsy dollops of self-awareness about living in the 2020s," Caryn James wrote in a review for BBC.

Matthew McConaughey voiced the titular character in "Agent Elvis," which critics said was just so-so.

Still of Elvis character on "Agent Elvis"
Elvis was voiced by Matthew McConaughey.Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Summary: The animated comedy follows Elvis Presley (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) as he leads a double life as a secret agent.

A splash of star power wasn't enough to keep critics coming back for episodes of "Agent Elvis."

"Putting too much into the pot by way of violence, celebrity cameos, and random jokes, 'Agent Elvis' turns into a downer that has outstayed its welcome," Mini Anthikad Chhibber wrote for The Hindu.

According to critics, Brian Tyree Henry and Kate Mara couldn’t redeem "Class of '09."

Brian Tyree Henry in "Class of '09"
Brian Tyree Henry on "Class of '09."Richard DuCree/FX/Hulu

Rotten Tomatoes score: 59%

Summary: A class of FBI recruits (including Brian Tyree Henry and Kate Mara) learn to use artificial intelligence to prevent future crimes across three different timelines.

Henry and Mara received shout-outs for their memorable performances, but they weren't enough to elevate the entire series.

In a review for Exclaim, Matthew Simpson wrote that the show "is a little too uneven and unrefined to be great."

Abigail Breslin appeared in the dramatic Fox series "Accused," which had critics split.

Abigail Breslin on "Accused"
Abigail Breslin on "Accused."FOX

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%

Summary: Each episode of the crime anthology series delves into the backstories of various defendants sitting trial in court.

Abigail Breslin guest-starred in the dramatic series that had critics split on whether it was engrossing or overly simplistic.

"While I keep waiting for 'Accused' to improve, I have been consistently disappointed," Matthew Gilbert wrote for The Boston Globe. "An hour is not enough time to set up and look into some of the complex issues the writers are addressing."

"Digman!" had a strong voice cast — Andy Samberg, Melissa Fumero, and Tim Robinson — but a weak reception.

Animated characters on "Digman!"
Saltine and Rip were voiced by Mitra Jouhari and Andy Samberg, respectively.Comedy Central

Rotten Tomatoes: 57%

Summary: The animated comedy follows retired adventurer Rip Digman (voiced by Andy Samberg) as he travels to the ends of the earth to restore his legacy as a celebrity archaeologist.

Critics said "Digman!" was front-loaded with jokes but failed to stick the landing.

"There is enough material, and genuinely good laughs, present in 'Digman!' for a pretty good one-off short, maybe even a 90-minute Saturday matinee," Huw Saunders wrote for Cultured Vultures. "Unfortunately this has been spread thinly over eight half-hours."

Zoe Saldaña, Nicole Kidman, and Morgan Freeman starred in "Special Ops: Lioness," which raked in mixed reviews.

Zoe Saldana as Joe in "Special Ops: Lioness."
Zoe Saldaña on "Special Ops: Lioness."Greg Lewis/Paramount+

Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%

Summary: CIA officer Joe (Zoe Saldaña) leads the charge of a new Lioness program with rookie operative Cruz Manuelos (Laysla De Oliveira).

The star power for "Special Ops: Lioness" was undeniable, but the story itself never solidified to anything that wowed critics.

"That 'Lioness' fails to ever really roar is a shame, given the pedigree of talent before and behind the camera," Louis Chilton wrote for The Independent.

Not even actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn could make critics love the Marvel series "Secret Invasion."

Ben Mendelsohn as Talos on "Secret Invasion."
Ben Mendelsohn on "Secret Invasion."Gareth Gatrell/Marvel Studios

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%

Summary: Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) work to uncover a conspiracy by alien renegades.

Despite being in the capable hands of a stellar cast, "Secret Invasion" failed to thrill critics.

" … Along with the fantastic cast (with Olivia Colman elevating the whole enterprise with her portrayal of top MI6 agent Sonya Falsworth), the entire series is defined and dogged by a lack of necessity," Melanie McFarland wrote for Salon.

Critics felt like "FUBAR" rehashed tropes from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early career.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Luke Brunner in episode 103 of Fubar.
Arnold Schwarzenegger on "FUBAR."Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

Summary: After lying to each other about their secret identities for years, Luke (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro) discover they are both CIA operatives who must work together on their next mission.

Many critics said "FUBAR" felt like an AI-rendered fever dream of past Schwarzenegger scripts.

"The series is all cliché, followed by painful cringe and then rounded out by dumbfounded confusion," Kelly Lawler wrote in a review for USA Today. "There are humans talking, but I don't believe humans wrote the dialogue."

Matthew Broderick starred in the critically divisive dark comedy "Painkiller."

Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler on "Painkiller," with OxyContin plush mascots visible in the background.
Matthew Broderick on "Painkiller."Keri Anderson/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

Summary: Based on the true story of Purdue Pharma's influence on the opioid epidemic, "Painkiller" follows billionaire Richard Sackler (Matthew Broderick) and his part in the crisis.

Critics said the show's first mistake was trying to turn the opioid epidemic into a dark comedy.

"Broderick's potent performance of smiling evil is somewhat diminished by the script's absurd suggestion that Richard might be growing a guilty conscience over time," Peter Travers wrote for ABC News. "If so, too little, too late."

"Citadel" had names like Stanley Tucci, Richard Madden, and Priyanka Chopra, but critical reception was lukewarm.

Priyanka Chopra on "Citadel"
Priyanka Chopra on "Citadel."Amazon Prime Video

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%

Summary: Top spy agents Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra) chase down their pasts when their memories are erased.

Critics said the ambitious action series failed to meld into anything cohesive.

"The show —in just six episodes — is trying to include everything: massive set-pieces, steamy romance, breathless fun, and save the world angst," Craig Mathieson wrote for The Age. "The plotting is fantastical, and the leads solid, but the series struggles to rise above the piecemeal."

Giancarlo Esposito was in the underwhelming thriller “Kaleidoscope.”

Kaleidoscope
Giancarlo Esposito on "Kaleidoscope."Courtesy of Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 49%

Summary: Master thief Leo Pap (Giancarlo Esposito) pulls his crew together to take on their biggest heist yet, but betrayal and greed complicate their $7 billion steal.

Though the show was marketed as a series that could be watched in any order, critics were left unimpressed no matter how they viewed it.

"There's just not enough story or character development here to warrant eight episodes, let alone eight episodes that are juggling a gimmick," Nina Metz wrote for the Chicago Tribune.

Critics said Jennifer Garner’s lead performance was a silver lining in "The Last Thing He Told Me."

Jennifer Garner on "The Last Thing He Told Me"
Jennifer Garner on "The Last Thing He Told Me."Erin Simkin/Apple TV+

Rotten Tomatoes: 45%

Summary: After her husband Owen (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) mysteriously disappears without a trace, Hannah (Jennifer Garner) tries to protect her stepdaughter Bailey (Angourie Rice).

Though the series itself left much to be desired in the eyes of critics, it was partially redeemed by Garner's central performance.

" … If the emotional side of the story never quite clicks, it's a treat seeing the ever-appealing Garner back in resourceful investigative mode," Marianka Swain wrote for The Telegraph.

Fresh off the set of "The White Lotus," Alexandra Daddario starred in "Mayfair Witches."

Alexandra Daddario sitting down next to a small table in AMC's "Mayfair Witches"
Alexandra Daddario on "Mayfair Witches."Alfonso Bresciani/AMC

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%

Summary: Based on Anne Rice's trilogy "Lives of the Mayfair Witches," the supernatural thriller follows neurosurgeon Rowan Fielding (Alexandra Daddario) as she discovers she comes from a lineage of powerful witches.

Critics said the latest attempt to adapt Anne Rice's work fell flat upon execution.

"Simply put, the series took too long to spark excitement," Melody McCune wrote for Geek Girl Authority.

Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu, and more lent their voices to the animated flop "Velma."

Velma and Fred on season one of the animated series "Velma."
Velma and Fred were voiced by Mindy Kaling and Glenn Howerton, respectively.HBO Max

Rotten Tomatoes: 39%

Summary: The reimagining of "Scooby Doo" centers on teenage Velma Dinkley (voiced by Mindy Kaling) as she attends high school with Fred (voiced by Glenn Howerton), Daphne (voiced by Constance Wu), and Norville (voiced by Sam Richardson).

The show's edginess seemed to aim for every type of potential audience but was instead received by some critics as an isolating, lazily written comedy.

"Every episode is a cringy, eye-rolling slog that doesn't seem to have any idea who its audience is, yet seems to despise them all the same," Heather Hogan wrote for Autostraddle.

Amanda Seyfried and Tom Holland couldn’t save "The Crowded Room" from bad reviews.

Tom Holland in "The Crowded Room."
Tom Holland on "The Crowded Room."Apple TV+

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%

Summary: After getting arrested for a shooting, Danny Sullivan (Tom Holland) is interviewed by interrogator Rya Goodwin (Amanda Seyfried) for his involvement in the crime and everything that preceded it.

Although Seyfried and Holland seemed to give it their all, critics agreed that "The Crowded Room" told a muddled and repetitive story.

"Apple TV's muddled new drama benefits from an A-List cast, but it's not enough to make it worth a watch," Valerie Ettenhofer wrote in a review for Film School Rejects.

Scott Caan was in the Fox misfire "Alert: Missing Persons Unit."

Scott Caan on "Alert: Missing Persons Unit"
Scott Caan on "Alert: Missing Persons Unit."FOX

Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Summary: Jason Grant (Scott Caan) and Nikki Batista (Dania Ramirez) investigate missing-persons cases for the Philadelphia Police Department while trying to find their missing son.

Critics admired Caan's performance but found little else to like in the sappy procedural.

"Fox's missing persons drama 'Alert' is straight-up bad TV, perverting what most often happens in missing-persons cases to up the show's dramatic stakes," Rob Owen wrote for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Critics thought Mark Ruffalo’s talent was wasted in "All the Light We Cannot See."

aria mia loberti and mark ruffalo in all the light we cannot see. they are holding each other close in a crowd of worried looking people
Aria Mia Loberti and Mark Ruffalo on "All the Light We Cannot See."Timea Saghy/Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes: 27%

Summary: Based on the book by Anthony Doerr, "All the Light We Cannot See" follows teens Marie-Laure LeBlanc (Aria Mia Loberti) and Werner Pfennig (Louis Hofmann) as they come of age during the height of World War II.

Despite its serious subject matter and strong cast, which included Mark Ruffalo as Marie-Laure's father, the show was received as a thinly veiled attempt to collect accolades ahead of awards season.

"Knight and Levy aim for an uplifting, inspirational tale of connection that transcends division, distance, and prejudice, but instead deliver a flat, jumbled story that lacks the desired effect," Alison Herman wrote for Variety.

Lily-Rose Depp starred opposite The Weeknd in the critically panned drama "The Idol."

The Idol
Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp on "The Idol."HBO

Rotten Tomatoes: 19%

Summary: Following a canceled tour due to a mental-health scare, Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) meets Tedros (Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye) and becomes enveloped in his new-age cult.

Although the drama attempted to deconstruct the worst parts of Hollywood, critics said the show fell victim to the same faults it was criticizing.

"For a show that attempts to satirise how out of touch successful celebrities can be, it's a bit ironic to see just how embarrassingly pleased the people who created this seem to be with themselves," Rohan Naahar wrote for The Indian Express.

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