The 5 worst TV shows of 2021

2021 was a good TV year, with buzzy shows such as “The White Lotus” and gems like “Yellowjackets.” However, it also had some serious clunkers — and we’re not just talking about some of the more bizarre reality TV offerings.

From ill-advised sequels to overly ambitious superhero epics, these shows had big goals…and fell short.

Here are five of the worst TV shows of 2021.

“La Brea,” (NBC)

One of the many, many shows that are still trying to be “Lost,” years after that show’s time in the zeitgeist ended, this one involves a sinkhole opening beneath LA. Naturally, this sends people to a mysterious primeval land (so, it’s got a dash of “Stranger Things” as well). High concept sci-fi should be interesting and fun, and this one simply didn’t get the memo. A derivative slog. 

Chiké Okonkwo as Ty Coleman, Natalie Zea as Eve Harris, Diesel La Torraca as Isiah, Nicholas Gonzalez as Levi Delgado in “La Brea.”
Sarah Enticknap/NBC

“Clarice” (CBS) 

It’s never a great idea to take a beloved iconic movie and try to make it into a pat network procedural. And this “Silence of the Lambs” prequel spinoff show demonstrates exactly why. It pales in comparison to the movie, and watching it just reminds you that there’s a much better version of this story out there. Taking an acclaimed horror film that’s notoriously wild and weird — one of its most recognizable quotes is about eating human body parts for dinner, followed by a nice chianti! — and spinning it into a bland procedural is a baffling choice. 

“Jupiter’s Legacy” (Netflix)

Superhero shows are a dime a dozen these days, so new entries in the genre should at least try to be distinctive. This one felt like a patchwork rip-off of most of the series currently airing, such as “The Boys” and “Superman & Lois.” To add insult to injury, the show must have had a large budget, since it’s got splashy special effects and a reasonably star-studded cast, between Josh Duhamel and Leslie Bibb. So why did they slap a white wig and beard on Duhamel that looks like it costs ten bucks at Party City? 

Josh Duhamel as Sheldon Sampson in "Jupiter's Legacy."
Josh Duhamel in “Jupiter’s Legacy.” Yes, really that’s him behind that awful wig and beard.
Adam Rose

“The Lost Symbol,” (Peacock)

Stories based on Dan Brown novels are always going to be filled with pompous professors, mysterious cloaked figures, and conspiracies tracing back hundreds of years that only the professors and historians can solve. However, “The Lost Symbol” felt almost like a parody of “The Da Vinci Code” author’s infamous style, layering one preposterous mystery after another, while hardly bothering to make it feel remotely plausible.   

Ashley Zuckerman holds a tape recorder and looks solemn.
Ashley Zukerman as Robert Langdon in “The Lost Symbol.”

“Tiger King 2,” (Netflix) 

The first incarnation of the “Tiger King” docuseries took the world by storm in 2020 because this bizarre story of gay polygamist zookeeper Joe Exotic, and his plot against his rival, Carole Baskin, dropped at a time when everyone was feeling cabin fever from the lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s follow up docuseries, “Tiger King 2,” does not contain any real new information — and it’s hard to, since Joe Exotic is currently incarcerated. More than anything else, it just feels like a cynical attempt to ride the wave of this story’s 15 minutes in the spotlight, as they assume that viewers will watch anything, no matter how hollow.

Joe Exotic in "Tiger King" Season 2.
Joe Exotic is incarcerated in Season 2 of “Tiger King.”
©Netflix/Courtesy Everett Colle