TV Shows We Quit in 2018

With approximately 500 scripted series premiering new seasons in 2018, sometimes it feels like the television landscape is like a bubble. If it keeps getting inflated larger and larger, eventually something will have to give and it will pop, right? Well, maybe not for the platforms on which these shows are released — after all, new ones are created there often, as well. However, for the average television viewer — and even members of Variety‘s dedicated, professional staff — the limit has been reached.

Here, Variety staff selects the series they had to leave behind in 2018 — from the longest-running staple of Dick Wolf’s “One Chicago” franchise, to the headline-grabbing “Roseanne,” to Emmy darling “Saturday Night Live.”

“Chicago Fire” (NBC)
File this one under: probably about time. After being invested (enough) for six seasons to want to be a completist, it came time to say goodbye to this first of Dick Wolf’s “One Chicago” franchise series when Gabby Dawson (Monica Raymund) said goodbye to Firehouse 51 at the top of the seventh season. The show is an ensemble and has seen many cast changes before, but it just felt out of character to break up Gabby and Matt (Jesse Spencer) with a throwaway line about them getting a divorce after she had left, but without much long distance turmoil, just so the writers could force new flirting amidst the fires. The addition of the most annoying bureaucrat in the world, Jerry Gorsch (Steven Boyer), sealed it, and “Chicago Fire” was extinguished from my queue. — Danielle Turchiano, senior features editor, TV


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“The Conners”/”Roseanne” (ABC)
Watching “Roseanne’s” return in early 2018 was an unpleasant obligation for anyone wanting to be plugged into the zeitgeist. But the show was an easy one to let go of once Roseanne Barr revealed her true, trollish colors on Twitter and once the show fell from cultural centrality. “The Conners” is a better show than was new-era “Roseanne,” but it’s not a must-watch. — Daniel D’Addario, chief television critic

“The First” (Hulu)
They say it’s unfair to judge books by their covers, so it’s probably equally unfair — or at least unwise — to judge a television show by its marketing. But the posters for Beau Willimon’s mission to Mars drama featured a rocket ship blasting off, which implied at some point in the storytelling the challenge for some of the characters would be to actually colonize the fourth planet from the sun while missing their loved ones back home. Unfortunately, that seemed to be a long, long-term plan for a show that was never guaranteed more than its original eight-episode run, so the entire first season was spent watching characters just struggle with whether or not they wanted to go on the mission at all. It would have been compelling, especially as they set up tough topics such as sexism and racism in the workplace and addiction at home, if it wasn’t so laboriously drawn out. The show started with a literal explosion that set up an expectation of excitement in its storytelling that just simply never paid off. And admittedly, it also suffered greatly from its leading man Sean Penn, who when he wasn’t scowling, was stone-faced on screen, and whose mere presence with the backdrop of #MeToo brought up some uncomfortable memories. — Danielle Turchiano, senior features editor, TV

“House of Cards” (Netflix)
While it may seem like a cop out to quit a show that just aired its last season, there is a method to my madness. First, let’s be honest: The past few seasons of “House of Cards” have not had the same magic that catapulted the show into the popular culture back in 2013, a time when the idea of a Netflix drama series was a novelty unto itself. After the first two seasons, the show almost became a parody of itself, like the scene where Jimmi Simpson’s character barked like a dog on his knees after an FBI agent threatened to squish his guinea pig. Yes, that happened. Add to that the dismal fact that neither Robin Wright nor Michael Kelly have won an Emmy for their stellar work on the series. But of course, it comes down to Kevin Spacey. The legendary actor who won all manner of acclaim for the show found his legacy destroyed after multiple people accused him of sexual assault. What should have been the show’s triumphant swan song in Season 6 became a grim reminder of what had been. With that, it seems almost impossible to ever look back with any fondness on the show’s glory days, leading this TV viewer to conclude the only solution is to quit the show entirely. — Joe Otterson, TV reporter

Marvel on Netflix (“Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Iron Fist,” “Luke Cage,” “The Punisher”)
Last year I publicly announced I had stopped watching the CW DC shows, with the exception of “Black Lightning,” so it’s just on-brand to continue down this road with Marvel. What initially intrigued me about these shows — that they were grounded and more realistic than your average cape-wearing superhero romps — still proved to be true as time went on: deep, emotional character moments took precedence over stunts at seemingly every turn. However, the more time went on, the more it began to feel like very little was actually happening and, what’s worse, what little did happen didn’t stay in my memory for long. In a landscape of 500 television shows, there simply wasn’t enough room for that. Apparently not even for Netflix, which canceled the majority of these shows this year (“Jessica Jones” and “The Punisher” are the only ones left standing). — Danielle Turchiano, senior features editor, TV

“The Romanoffs” (Amazon)
From the second “The Romanoffs” was announced, it felt like Amazon was playing Prestige TV bingo. Lauded creator (Matthew Weiner)? Check. Star-studded cast (including Isabelle Huppert, Aaron Eckhart, Christina Hendricks, Kathryn Hahn, John Slattery)? Check. Astronomical budget and lush locations? Check and checkBut when it finally came out, the self-important series quickly collapsed under the weight of great expectations. — Caroline Framke, television critic

“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
This marked the first year since high school that I didn’t rush to catch “Saturday Night Live” sketches on Hulu when I woke up Sunday morning, or watch them live if I were home Saturday night. The show’s much-vaunted “take on politics” was more often hopelessly muddled than clarifying and, worse, it came to feel inessential. — Daniel D’Addario, chief television critic

“Sesame Street” (PBS/HBO)
In a house with small kids, not a lot of linear viewing happens. Netflix and Amazon have beefed up their children’s programming options with acquisitions and impressive originals like the former’s “Storybots” and the latter’s “Tumble Leaf.” Disney Channel’s authenticated Disney Now service is a digital treasure trove, as is the PBS Kids app. But in the digital space, “Sesame Street” sits alone at HBO. The granddaddy of quality kiddie shows still airs in linear fashion on PBS stations, but thanks the producers’ big-money deal with the erstwhile Home Box Office, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Mr. Snuffleupagus and company are confined to a digital neighborhood where there are few other children to play with. HBO surprisingly never followed up its headline-making “Sesame” deal with any other children’s programming development. The service’s dearth of additional kids’ options (besides the excellent and underappreciated “Classical Baby” specials and a sprinkling of library content) means that mom or dad has to spend a lot of time moving in and out of apps to watch “Sesame Street” or pivot to another program. So in one house, at least, “Sesame Street” has become a lonesome highway populated not by happy, learning children, but by no one. It is a void, a vast emptiness in which the letter of the day is shouted, but goes unheard. Do not ask how to get there. No one knows. — Daniel Holloway, executive editor, TV

“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson starring in a Southern gothic drama directed by Jean-Marc Vallée for HBO … What could go wrong? The short answer: Everything. I tuned into “Sharp Objects” expecting the love child of “Big Little Lies” and “Gone Girl,” my Superbowl. What I got was a dragged out limited series that should have been condensed into a movie and was literally darker than “Game Of Thrones.” A screen only gets so bright. I fell asleep twice while attempting to forge my way through its premiere episode and gave up after the fourth episode. Read the book instead; Camille Preaker’s internal monologues are much more fit for the page than the screen. — Meg Zukin, social media editor

“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
I still love Chief Hopper. Eleven still breaks my heart, and Dustin and Lucas still make me laugh. But I didn’t stick with “Stranger Things” in its second season, even after going back to my Netflix queue for it twice. As much as my heart swooned to see Hopper do a little do-se-do around his cabin, I couldn’t get into the mystery this time around. After three episodes, it just didn’t feel as urgent. Plus Netflix’s abundance of riches made it easy for my series-browsing finger to stray over to “GLOW,” “Wild Wild Country,” “BoJack Horseman,” “Peaky Blinders” or any number of intriguing options.  — Cynthia Littleton, business editor

“Westworld” (HBO)
Maybe it’s not “Westworld’s” fault. Ask its spiritual predecessor, “Lost” — it’s incredibly difficult to follow up on a first season that delivers such deep lore and drums up that much hype, even if the next installment is well done. But when I excitedly sat down to watch Season 2 of “Westworld,” I found myself lost, so to speak, and even a little bored. There’s something to be said about a slow burn, but when it can’t make me care about the new questions it raised in the first few episodes, who has time to wait around for the answers? — Alex Stedman, news editor

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