Okay, time for part two of our semi-annual feature, “Dogs Not Barking of the Year” (or “DNB”).
If you thought yesterday was juicy, there’s over 140 TV flops, bombs and misses in today’s article.
You can find our “DNBs” for the first half of 2022 here and here. If you missed yesterday’s article on the film flops, misses and bombs of the second half of 2022, head here. I’ll be covering the winners and losers on Friday, in lieu of a traditional streaming ratings report (we’ll do a double issue the week after, plus it’s really light) then sharing strategic takeaways on Tuesday.
(Yesterday’s article also has a very detailed explainer of both why I write this column and my methodology. If you’re a PR exec or a creative who’s upset at what I wrote, please take the time to read yesterday’s post before you email me. Seriously, if you can take the time to write five hundred words on why I’m wrong, take the time to read my explainer, which is free before-my-paywall.)
Unlike past eras in entertainment, we don’t get ratings for every TV show that comes out these days—just top ten lists. To be clear, we have streaming ratings now, and it’s not all lies or too confusing to figure out—which means a lot of notable flops, bombs and misses get totally ignored by the press. (To all reporters and critics, if you want to call a show hit, feel free to check this list to see if it actually was; if it’s on here, it wasn’t.) Or, worse, people just assume that some flops are hits! Which happened again and again this year. My mission is to correct this imbalance by calling out the misses.
Here’s some quick notes on how my TV series methodology differs from film:
– Today, I’m discussing each streamer individually, not just including a “Top 35” list like I did yesterday. (Way more than 35 TV shows bombed…)
– If I got anything wrong, please let me know! (There’s on correction below.) I live in fear that I get anything wrong, lest one mistake invalidates this whole exercise, but tracking hundreds of TV shows and films is really tough and time-consuming. (Which is why I need your support! Believe me, reporters at the trades, which rely on click-based advertising, don’t have the time to put in this amount of research into a comprehensive, non-timely article like this.) So tweet at or email me!
– We’re ordering the streamers from least “DNBs” to most. So scroll down to the end to see who performed the worst. (Hint: It’s a tech company.)
– If a show or film failed to make any of the charts I track, it’s a “Dog Not Barking”. (Since we have weekly top ten lists from a bunch of different sources, by process of elimination: if a show doesn’t make the charts, ipso facto, it flopped.)
Here’s an analogy. Everyone in town knows that Wednesday was a giant hit, because it topped the Nielsen charts for weeks, so Variety and The Hollywood Reporter could write article after article (deservedly) about how well it did. (Same goes for Night Court, since we get its broadcast ratings. Night Court is also the exact sort of show people in Hollywood don’t want to believe that the rest of American actually wants to watch.) Few people know that Reboot, for example, failed to make the charts.
For this reason, there won’t be many visuals this week. There’s nothing to show. Like this visual from my streaming ratings report a few weeks back:
– We’re focusing on “Dogs Not Barking” that failed to make any ratings chart, but, if a show was notable enough and got bad ratings or limited ratings, especially compared to how important that show was to a streamer, I marked it as a “Flop” or a “Miss”.
– My focus is mostly on scripted content, so a lot of documentary series and news programs got cut. Same goes for reality shows, unless they had big name talent attached, and kids shows (unless they’re based on high-profile or expensive IP). And my focus is on English-language programming, unless the show is particularly notable.
– This report is written using US, not global, data.
– My focus is on first-run, exclusive TV shows and films, not re-runs, second run, or syndicated TV shows. I don’t care about the show’s branding.
The Biggest TV Show “Dogs Not Barking”, Flops, Misses and Bombs By Streamers:
- FBoy Island
- Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler
- Rap Sh!t
- South Side
- Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace
Honorable Mentions: Wahl Street, The Bridge, Sort Of
Flop and Misses: Gossip Girl, Titans, Doom Patrol
Unlike the first half of 2022, when HBO Max released a ton of big shows with big name talent attached, HBO Max just didn’t release much in the second half of the year, seemingly leaning on HBO Originals to carry them. (More on whether this strategy worked next week.)
I will highlight the DC shows (Titans, Doom Patrol), which had extended runs on TV Time. These shows tend to over-index on social/buzz metrics, but they never charted on Nielsen, which means their overall viewership was likely small. Rap Sh!t doesn’t seem expensive, but with only 1.3K reviews on IMDb, I don’t know how this, of all the HBO Max shows, got renewed.
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler
Come on, a Batman show can’t make Nielsen? Then again, this premise makes zero sense, so maybe that explains the lack of interest. Still, this is HBO Max’s biggest miss of the quarter. (And it got cancelled, along with Titans and Doom Patrol, so WBD really is cleaning DC house.)
- Big Shot
- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
- Limitless with Chris Hemsworth
- The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers
- The Mysterious Benedict Society
- Save Our Squad With David Beckham
Flops and Misses: Willow, National Treasure: Edge of History, Ms. Marvel
Disney+ Honorable Mentions: America the Beautiful, America’s National Parks, Super/Natural, Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi
Big Shot, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series all feel like the same sort of show: a reboot of an old Disney franchise or a new show based off pre-existing IP, usually starring a B or C list actor. (Even Disney+’s other two bombs, Limitless with Chris Hemsworth and Save Our Squad With David Beckham feature big name stars.) I’d just love to know the ratings for all six shows. I think people might be shocked at how poorly they performed.
But none of these shows broke the bank and none will be our “Bomb of the Year”.
I’m more concerned about their big budget, high profile flops and misses, which were much, much bigger swings (and more important to Disney+). Though both Willow and National Treasure: Edge of History made TV Time for multiple weeks, they clearly weren’t hit shows and Disney can’t be happy with their viewership.
DNB of Second Half of 2022: National Treasure: Edge of History
Honestly, it’s a bit hard to pick a winner for Disney+. All of their “true” DNBs feel small and virtually identical, basically slightly higher budget Disney Channel shows. Ms Marvel is the MCU’s biggest miss, so far, but it still made the Nielsen charts for numerous weeks. And Willow appears to be picking up steam.
Despite National Treasure: Edge of History having an eight-week run on TV Time, it gets the nod as biggest “flop”, even though it’s not technically a “Dog Not Barking”. Using IMDb scores as the tie breaker, with only 7.7K reviews—compared to Willow’s 28K+ IMDb reviews—it’s clear that National Treasure: Edge of History is not resonating with audiences.
- Blood & Treasure
- The Game
- Ink Master
- Inside Amy Schumer
- Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head
Honorable Mentions: All Star Shore, Behind the Music, Never Seen Again, Returning: Star Trek: Prodigy
Unlike Hulu, Peacock, Netflix and Apple TV+, Paramount+ doesn’t have a lot of DNBs on this list; they don’t release as many shows. And many of the Tyler Sheridan/Star Trek shows they did release made some of the charts. Since they’re the only major streamer that doesn’t let Nielsen release their ratings, it’s hard to say how their shows did, leaving us to rely on TV Time and a handful of other popularity metrics.
(A bunch of their shows like 1923, Tulsa King, etc, did very well on TV Time and IMDb. Still, Paramount+, let Nielsen release your data!)
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Inside Amy Schumer
It came down to two reboots, Inside Amy Schumer versus Beavis and Butthead. In the end, I heard more buzz about Beavis and Butt-Head, so it just gets the edge. (And as I wrote last time, I love Amy Schumer, so it bums me out to write this. Amy Schumer Learns to Cook makes up for it in my book. )
- The Devil’s Hour
- The English
- Making the Cut
- Paper Girls
- Three Pines
Honorable Mentions: James May: Our Man in Italy, Dr. Seuss Baking Challenge, Cosmic Love, The NFL Pile On,
Flops and Misses: The Peripheral, The Outlaws
Prime Video quietly had a very good year—instead of aiming at TV critics, they aimed for middle-aged dads, with shows like Reacher, The Terminal List, The Boys, and others—but their misses were the usual sort of streaming miss: high-profile actors in buzzy, prestige projects. Luckily for Prime Video, most of their biggest misses were co-productions, like Mammals (starring James Corden), The English (starring Emily Blunt), and The Outlaws (starring Stephen Marchant). Or shows from the UK and Canada, like Riches, Three Pines and Jungle.
Before we get to the winner/loser of the year, I’d also highlight Paper Girls. Though it doesn’t have big stars (Nate Corddry and Ali Wong are the biggest names in it), it was based on Brian K. Vaughn’s buzzy comic book. I’d point out that it suffers from a problem many YA shows have: they don’t feel adult, limiting the size of the potential audience. (Unlike Wednesday, which featured teens, but appealed to adults.)
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Making the Cut
Making the Cut is on its third season, and Prime Video spent big money courting the stars of Project Runway (Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn) to their streamer, but it still hasn’t made the Nielsen charts. Once. And based on the look of it, it doesn’t feel cheap, like most other reality shows. This is a huge bomb, no matter how many clothes they sell based off this show. (Which due to the low ratings probably isn’t a lot.)
- The Amber Ruffin Show
- Baking It
- The Calling
- The Capture
- Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies
- A Friend of the Family
- Last Light
- Leopard Skin
- One of Us is Lying
- Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin
- The Resort
- The Undeclared War
- Vampire Academy
Honorable Mentions: Days of Our Lives: Beyond Salem, Love for the Ages, Irreverent, I Love You, You Hate Me, The End is Nye
Unlike other streamers, Peacock’s talent and actors are a lot less expensive and high profile. For example, Amber Ruffin doesn’t cost nearly as much as Jon Stewart (but I’ve heard her viewership is equally low, if not lower).
That said, Peacock certainly had some big swings, especially The Resort, from Sam Esmail and starring Cristin Miloti and William Jackson Harper. I’d pick this show as Peacock’s DNB of the year, except when it aired on NBC, 2.3 million people tuned in to watch the pilot episode. (And we don’t know if this translated to actually viewership, since Nielsen wasn’t releasing Peacock data yet.)
But if that strategy worked…why wasn’t Baking It also airing on NBC?
Some other high profile bombs include Last Light (featuring Matthew Fox’s return to TV) and The Calling (from David E. Kelley). I’d also highlight Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies, since people really, really hated that NBC-Universal gave Casey Anthony her first on camera interview.
All that said, Nielsen wasn’t providing ratings for Peacock until the last two months of the year, so it’s hard to declare a proper winner for them.
(Update: A reader emailed asking us to include Vampire Academy and made a really, really good case: Universal spent a lot to get Julia Plec from Warner Bros. TV, who made a successful vampire show before. This is based on a very popular book series (that also had a film). It was very expensive. Peacock was constantly touting this show…until it came out and flopped, now they’re shifting focus away from YA! So yeah, updated! It’s even a nominee for flop of the year now.)
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin
Why Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin? Three reasons:
- This is valuable IP for NBCUniversal, and a franchise that they want/need to make work.
- It has notable actors in it.
- It has less than a thousand reviews on IMDb— the only data we have available for this show— which is atrocious.
- The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself
- Chad & JT Go Deep
- Derry Girls
- Floor is Lava
- Lost Ollie
- The Mole (2022)
- Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area
- Nailed It!
- Oni: Thunder God’s Tale
- Paradise PD
- Single’s Inferno
- Waffle and Mochi’s Restaurant
Flops and Misses: The Witcher: Blood Origin, Resident Evil, Uncoupled, Partner Track, Extraordinary Attorney Woo,
Netflix Honorable Mentions: Wild Croc Territory, Partner Track, Boo, Bitch, Buying Beverly Hills, Down to Earth With Zac Efron, Rebel Cheer Squad: A Get Even Series, Glow Up: Britain’s Next Make-Up Star, Drive Hard: The Maloof Way, Selling the OC, Fakes, Heartbreak High, Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance!, Designing Miami, Phantom Pups, Human Playground, Bling Empire, Teletubbies (2022), Story Bots: Answer Time, Our Universe, Somebody Feed Phil, Last Chance U: Basketball
Compared to everyone else, Netflix is a bit of a pickle to figure out how they did in terms of flops, bombs and misses for the year. Outside of Blockbuster, there’s not a ton of flat-out bombs. If Netflix takes a big, Apple-TV+-or-Hulu-sized swing, based off popular IP or starring big name actors, it usually makes the charts.
Then again, they have over a third more U.S. subscribers as everyone else. (Or three times as many as some.) And since they binge-release all of their shows, they usually pop onto the Nielsen charts in their first week.
But it’s a double-edged sword, because they release so, so many titles, of course they’re going to have a lot of DNBs. Believe me, if you added up all the true crime docs, foreign-language titles, and other sorts of low budget fare that I cut, this list would be way, way longer. When Jon Landgraf was Nostradamus-ing the coming peak TV apocalypse, this is what he foresaw.
As for notable Dogs Not Barking, I think Netflix is probably more disappointed by their flops and misses of the year, especially Resident Evil (already cancelled) and The Witcher: Blood Origin, since those are big franchises with a ton of upside. Similarly, Uncoupled (starring the beloved/God Damn American Treasure Neil Patrick Harris) felt like a rare miss. But the winner is…
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Blockbuster
Honestly, I’m more surprised than anything else. Based on the cast, I expected more from this show. (Then again, I’d also probably release sitcoms weekly on a linear feed. I mean, again, Night Court.)
(Including Sub-Branding like FX on Hulu, ABC News, The Onyx Collective…)
- The D’Amelio Show
- Fleishman Is in Trouble
- Reasonable Doubt
- Reservation Dogs
- Tell Me Lies
- This Fool
- Wedding Season (Hulu TV; Netflix, somehow, had a movie with this exact same title. We’re running out of titles! Also this show made TV Time for two weeks.)
- Welcome to Chippendales
Honorable Mentions: Ladhood, Chefs vs. Wild, The Orville: New Horizons, The Hair Tales, Bloods
Flops and Misses: Kindred, The Orville, American Horror Stories, Solar Opposites, Reboot, The Kardashians, Solar Opposites
Before we get into all of Hulu’s misses for the year, I need to provide an awkward caveat. You see, as I wrote in the introduction yesterday, my focus is on first-run, exclusive streaming titles (not reruns, second run, or syndicated shows). I don’t really care about how the show is branded; I care if it’s a show a streamer spent good money buying exclusive rights for it. (And then usually sells that show to the customer as an “Original” for obvious reasons.)
But Hulu does care. They want you to know that “FX on Hulu” shows are not Hulu Originals. They’ve told me this multiple times. But if I wrote that, without an explanation, I’d seem clueless, and folks would write me emails saying, “Why did you say this isn’t a Hulu Original?”
Why? Well, I don’t know, take a look at these images:
If you advertise, in four different places, that a show is a “Hulu Original” and it satisfies my criteria for an “original title” meaning that it’s a first run, exclusive title on a streamer, well, I don’t really care who made it, John Landgraf, Jordan Helman, Dana Walden, or Phil Esposito. (I’m also not sure why Hulu would try to distance itself from creatives of color, like the Onyx collective.)
So for this exercise, all of these DNBs belong to Hulu.
Hulu releases so many bombs/flops/misses, I actually forgot to include Mike on my initial list. This is why we do this! How do you release a show about one of the most infamous, charismatic athletes of all time and not get viewership? Solar Opposites underwhelmed, only getting one week on TV Time, which is not great for a show on its third season, from a very high-profile co-creator, with big name stars, and Hulu binge-released all of season three on one day. Also, Ramy and Reservoir Dogs resonate with critics (and NPR producers and New Yorker writers) but that hasn’t translated into actual viewership, unfortunately.
DNB of Second Half of 2022: Reboot
Second Place: Fleishman Is in Trouble, The Kardashians and Welcome to Chippendales (Tie)
Honestly, I can barely pick a winner/loser for Hulu. I just assumed that Reboot, from Steve Levitan of Modern Family fame, with a ton of big stars, would be a hit. My researcher pushed back, saying that it was too “inside baseball”. Turns out, he was right; it never made Nielsen. Though it made TV Time for five weeks, it only has 7.2K reviews on IMDb, which is really low. And it’s already been cancelled.
Then again, Welcome to Chippendales only has 5.1K reviews on IMDb. Fleishman is in Trouble has 5.5K. The Kardashians has 3k and reportedly cost over a hundred million dollars to steal the family from E!. (It also made the DNB list in the first half of the year. It did make TV Time in the second half of the year, though.)
But our winner/loser is Reboot.
Why? Because it represents what’s actually going wrong in Hollywood today. Not only did this show get cancelled, it led to almost all of the actors wondering why it got cancelled (the ratings were horrible?), yet Steve Levitan is now shopping the series to other streamers. (Believe me, if Hulu had data showing that people loved the series, they would have shared that data like HBO does whenever they have a hit show.)
Message to other streamers, before the buy season two: this wasn’t a hit show.
(That said, Netflix could, with its massive subscriber base, probably give this a lift a la Cobra Kai. And Lord knows Apple doesn’t care about burning money.)
- Bad Sisters
- Black Bird
- Central Park
- Echo 3
- Five Days at Memorial
- Little America
- The Mosquito Coast
- The Problem With Jon Stewart
- Slow Horses
Flops and Misses: See
Honorable Mentions: Carpool Karaoke: The Series, Best Foot Forward, The Snoopy Show, Surfside Girls, Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show, Ghostwriter, Circuit Breakers
Apple TV+ took so, so many big, née huge swings, and so many of those huge swings whiffed. They have more high-profile TV shows—i.e. big name talent, notable IP, and expensive showrunners—than anyone else. And none of these shows made the weekly Nielsen ratings, which was easy to figure out, since Apple only had one title (Spirited) make Nielsen charts all year.
For any other streamer, Surface, Trying and The Mosquito Coast (I did just come across a headline calling this a “hit show” somehow.) would be candidates for DNB/bomb of the year, but these shows’ big name talent wasn’t quite as big as other shows like Shantaram (Charlie Hunnam, Steve Lightfoot, Eric Warner Singer), Loot (Alan Yang, Maya Rudolph), Echo 3 (Mark Boal, Luke Evans), Central Park (from the Bob’s Burgers creator), and Black Bird (Richard Plepler, Dennis Lehane, Taron Egerton, Greg Kinnear, Ray Liotta).
Slow Horses (Gary Oldman) would be a DNB of the year, but it was saved by terrific IMDb scores and “buzz”. (It’s buzzy enough to not be one of Apple’s biggest flops of the year, but it’s still a huge flop in America.) Blackbird was saved by its award nominations, but it’s still unclear if anyone watched this show. (Which is almost worse.)
But the winner goes to the most expensive name of them all…
DNB of Second Half of 2022: The Problem with Jon Stewart
If you were at a studio in the mid-2010s, you know three things: Jon Stewart was available to make a TV show, he was very expensive, and didn’t really want to work very hard. (Which is fair, since he’d worked so hard for years. But I have a brutal anecdote, that I can’t share, from my time at a streamer about his tour around town.) Earlier this year, it was reported that The Problem with Jon Stewart had an episode get 40,000 or so views. Which is horrible. For a yearly salary that’s in the tens of millions, this might be Apple TV+’s biggest miss of the year. And for how much they spent to get this show, that’s saying something.