The mantra of “Must-See TV” has been around since well before NBC co-opted it to market their Thursday night comedies. But there’s also the little-heard-of opposite side of that coin, the “Can’t Unsee Them” moments.
You know what we’re talking about: moments that are cringe-inducing but riveting, ones where you can’t look away but are ashamed of yourself as soon as you’re done watching them, moments that are so memorably repugnant that they’ll be tattooed into your brain for years to come.
Without a doubt, 2011 had a lot of those moments. And some of them were so long, they extended for entire seasons, including the show that tops the list:
The “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” drama: It’s one thing to watch the cast of the most ostentatious “Housewives” series go from cocktail party to cocktail party gossiping and throwing each other under the bus. But the entire second season of the show has been like watching one long, slow-motion car wreck, because of Russell Armstrong‘s suicide. Every time Russell is on screen, his neck veins pulsing in near-rage, or every time Taylor Armstrong is talking about her relationship and teetering on the edge of a breakdown, we want to look away, because of the real-life consequences we know are coming. But, for some reason, we can’t.
The return of “Fear Factor”: All we had to see to know that Joe Rogan and company are back and grosser than ever was watching contestants eat live scorpions in one episode and swim through a vat of cow’s blood in order to find cow’s hearts and pick them up with their teeth. We may have lost a bit of our lunch seeing those challenges, but we won’t forget them anytime soon.
Gus Fring’s demise on “Breaking Bad”: Don’t get us wrong; we think “Breaking Bad” had a fantastic season and a heck of a season four finale. But the more we think about what he looked like after Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Hector (Mark Margolis) conspired to blow him up, makes us cringe a bit. Was blowing off half his face a bit over-the-top? Yes, but it made for one memorable exit for one of the best TV villains ever, as well as the man who played him, Giancarlo Esposito.
Watch a clip from the “Breaking Bad” season finale:
The zombie in the well on “The Walking Dead”: Ewww. That’s all we have to say about the bloated, wet, rotting, flesh-eating carcass that the gang of survivors spent almost an entire episode fishing out of the well on Hershel Greene’s (Scott Wilson) farm. It seemed pointless, considering there were other wells they could have used, but they decided that they’d use poor sap Glenn (Steven Yeun) as “walker bait.” It was the epitome of how pointless a lot of the first half of the show’s second season was.
Will Ferrell as the boss on “The Office”: We understand why the writers of “The Office” wanted to have Steve Carell leave before the season was over: they wanted to end the season with everyone used to him not being there. But bringing in the usually-funny Ferrell to play Deangelo Vickers was a mistake because they only assigned glimmers of story to him; he was basically there to spend four episodes being Will Ferrell and all the wackiness that comes with it. The writers could have written his exit a number of ways, but they ended up crushing poor Deangelo under a basketball hoop. That development felt like something you’d see in “Whitney,” not “The Office.”
Nancy Grace’s “nip slip” on “Dancing With The Stars”: Even if you’re not a “DWTS” fan, you saw the HLN host’s wardrobe malfunction all over the interwebs the morning after it happened. The less said about it, the better; it’s still giving us nightmares.
Watch Nancy Grace sweat it out on “DWTS”:
The finale of “The Killing”: Only because the entire season of the AMC mystery series was such a letdown. Red herrings, one-note characterizations, and a sense that Veena Sud and her writers thought the show was a rainy present-day version of “Mad Men,” when it really was just one long episode of “NCIS.” And the fact that the finale didn’t even resolve the central mystery of “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” just made us even angrier.
The pilot of “Charlie’s Angels”: A show that didn’t need to be remade got a remake, and a heartless one at that. Why tarnish our memories of Farrah Fawcett if you didn’t have to.
“The Chew”: Chefs don’t let chefs do rambling, annoying talk shows. Don’t Mario Batali and Michael Symon have restaurants to run?