Top 10 Most Embarrassing TV Moments of 2014
If there were no embarrassing moments on TV, Happy Nice Time People would have no reason to exist and you’d be very sad. Fortunately, people humiliate themselves on the bewb tube every day. Here are the 10 best from 2014.
10. And the Award for Least Watched Awards Show Goes To…
Around 1997, some dude named Carlos de Abreu decided to start his own awards show, a la the Oscars, in the same way your fantasy football team is a la the Minnesota Vikings. Best of all, awards go out in early November, when most studios haven’t even released their Oscar-bait productions yet. In recent years, awards have gone to Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow for movies that not only hadn’t been released, but were still being edited. So, yeah, it’s a joke. At best, it’s an award for how award-worthy a movie is able to pretend to be.
But this year, Carlos sold the event—generically dubbed the Hollywood Film Awards—to Dick Clark Productions, which had the clout to get it aired on CBS. Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, and more all showed up to accept their awards, knowing in advance that they’d won. But absolutely no one showed up at their TVs to watch the damn thing. CBS tied for dead last in the ratings that Friday night with The CW. NBC’s Shark Tank was the night’s most watched show, so it’s not like competition was particularly fierce. In fact, CBS could have expected nearly 3 times as many viewers with its usual Friday fare Blue Bloods, which always wins the night, even in reruns.
– Rick Lewis
9. Introducing Adele Dazeem
I don’t know much about public speaking, but I do know that when it’s your job to introduce someone, it helps immensely to know their name. John Travolta’s turn as presenter at the 2014 Academy Awards lasted on about 30 seconds, but will live on forever in Oscars telecast infamy. Travolta had one job: introduce Idina Menzel to sing her hit song “Let It Go” from Frozen (which went on to win the Oscar for best song). But when Travolta said Menzel’s name, it came out more like “Adele Dazeem.” Honestly, it would have been better if he had just said, “And now to sing that song from that movie, here’s… um, this nice lady here.”
– Cindi Brown
The creators of FOX’s Utopia promised to make history and succeeded. They created arguably the biggest flop in TV history—and almost certainly the most expensive one. It cost $50 million just to get this show’s pilot episode on the air, and not even 15 minutes into it, everyone knew it was a monumental disaster. Move over, Cop Rock. Lower your head in shame, Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Weep bitter tears of regret, My Mother the Car. You have all been bested… or more accurately, worsted.
The concept was to toss 14 radically different strangers onto a farm and watch them develop and evolve into a working society. It’s a social experiment, not some dumb reality show, we were told. Oddly, a smaller budget and lower expectations would have served the show better. With FOX demanding $50 million’s worth of entertainment, the producers gathered up 14 lunatics who couldn’t work together with their own shadows. The resulting drama between cast mates was so infuriatingly juvenile and nonsensical that the show wasn’t even watchable in a “can you believe how stupid these people are” kind of way.
– Claire Abraham and Rick Lewis
7. I Wanna Bury My Head in Shame
How could FOX embarrass itself with a reality show even more than it did with Utopia? What would it possibly take to do that, the lowest rated show in the history of America’s big four networks?? Yes. Exactly. No original program has ever scored lower in the ratings than I Wanna Marry Harry, a reality show about 12 American morons who think they’re competing for the affections of the Britain’s Prince Harry on a The Bachelor rip-off. Much like Utopia would prove, stupid people in stupid situations does not equal entertaining television or ratings gold. FOX was so convinced it had a hit that it scheduled the premiere right after an American Idol season finale.
– Rick Lewis
6. Deathtime Original Movies
Let’s say you’d like to know more about Brittany Murphy, but not any more than, say, her Wikipedia page could tell you. But you can’t read, so you need someone to act it out, preferably in a bad wig. Well, Lifetime has an original movie that’s perfect for you! It’s called The Brittany Murphy Story, and judging by the finished product, more thought was put into that title than any other part of the movie.
Entirely shot in 16 days, really, and cast entirely with actors working the restaurant where the casting director ate lunch that day, probably, The Brittany Murphy Story was an exercise in marketing, not movie-making. Piss off the family, capitalize on the bad press, pray people tune in to see what the fuss was all about.
Two months later, Lifetime tried the exact same strategy all over again. With Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B, once again the family (and everyone else the singer ever knew) was loudly denouncing the movie and everyone involved in it. And once again, the finished product was a boring, clichéd waste of time. Her entire life was treated with the depth of a Hallmark card; even Aaliyah’s secret marriage at age 15 to her 27-year-old producer (R. Kelly) is portrayed in purely romantic terms. (Ick.)
Both times, the movie itself was an afterthought: a barebones story without insight or controversy. Despite all the hype, in the end, the only thing salacious about either movie was its existence.
– Sara Hope
5. The Fartknocker Report
The Sarah Palin Channel is now a thing that exists, although not actually on TV. Nope, it’s only online, but that doesn’t mean it’s not legitimate—haven’t you ever heard of Netflix? In fact, the Sarah Palin Channel is 25% better than Netflix, because it costs 25% more per month. (That’s how the American free market system works, right?)
And like Netflix, the Sarah Palin Channel offers more than eight full hours of TV programming for you to enjoy any time you want, because freedom. Don’t let Obama’s thugs at the FCC tell you when the start time of your favorite show is!
And your favorite TV show is Sarah Palin’s YouTube promo for her War on Christmas book, right? Or maybe her YouTube promo for her Amazing America reality TV show on actual TV? Of course it is, because that’s the type of thing you’ll find among the eight hours of TV you get for your monthly subscription. There’s also a seven-minute video of Palin reading to her son Trig and then feeding him dinner while he watches Dancing With the Stars on an iPad. Order now!
– Rick Lewis
4. Wet, Naked, Muscular Gay Dudes
This year, former Missouri defensive end (that’s football, nerds) Michael Sam made sports history by managing to be both gay and drafted by an NFL team. While Sam is far from the first gay NFLer, he’s definitely the first one to be open about his sexuality while in college and then get drafted. For sports reporting giant ESPN, you have to figure there were lots of ways to cover the story; being drafted is by no means the same thing as making an NFL roster, and the unique spotlight on Sam likely made things even harder for him. ESPN certainly could have covered that, or maybe the impact Sam’s story may have had on young gay athletes (high school sports are not a bastion of acceptance), or, I don’t know, just his football skills (or lack thereof; Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams and later cut again from the Cowboys’ practice squad). But ESPN decided instead to focus on the primary question on everyone’s mind: DOES MICHAEL SAM SHOWER WITH DUDES?
ESPN defended reporter Josina Anderson’s decision to spend a full minute of the report discussing whether or not Michael Sam waited for his teammates to thin out before showering by saying she didn’t bring it up, an anonymous Rams player did. In Anderson’s defense, Sam himself was “unavailable for comment” and all the Rams players who weren’t anonymous probably thought all rookies looked alike anyway, even the gay ones, so she likely didn’t have a lot to work with. I look forward to ESPN’s next groundbreaking expose on whether the NFL is considering dropping those tight-ass pants they all wear in favor of basketball shorts in case Michael Sam is looking at their defensive ends.
– Cy Chase
3. Don’t tell the Babysitter, Mom is Dead
After nine seasons—and 207 episodes spaced out over an awe-inspiring nine years (2005 through 2014)—How I Met Your Mother finally delivered on its title and wrapped up the LONGEST, LEAST LINEAR BEDTIME STORY A FATHER EVER TOLD TWO CHILDREN. (Talk about child abuse. I hope for their sake, they at least got to take the occasional potty break.) At the same time, fans got an hour-long finale to bid a fond farewell to their longtime TV friends: schmoopy romantic Ted, womanizing Barney, commitment-phobic Robin, and the loveably goofy Marshall and Lily.
Only one problem. The ending to this particular bedtime story was massively, slit-your-wrist, depressing. (Think the second act of Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” with a nice side of terminal illness.) After nine years of suspense, speculation, and build-up, Ted just kind of stumbles upon the Mom while waiting for a train. Oh, and then she unceremoniously DIES. Off-camera. And as for Barney and Robin, the will they/won’t they couple that captured fans hearts for most of the series’ run, whose wedding took no less than the ENTIRE FINAL SEASON? Oh yeah, they got divorced. Off-camera. Then, Robin (whose wedding dress must have smelled horrible after wearing it nonstop for an entire year) stopped hanging out with the gang entirely. Because 20 years of unhappiness is exactly the ending we wanted for her. But wait, then she’s brought back into the fold in the final scene, in an ending that seemed hastily tacked-on despite the fact that the two children filmed their part NINE YEARS AGO back during the first season because this is the ending planned all along! Ted shows up at Robin’s doorstep with a blue French horn and blue hair, to re-ignite their romance that failed for good and obvious reasons and was abandoned around Season 2.
If HIMYM had been cancelled after a couple of years, this would have been a meaningful and clever ending. But the show had moved on. The audience had moved on. Keeping the original ending was a disastrous, embarrassing mistake. In the end, for all the fun, romance and intrigue of their auspicious beginnings, the How I Met Your Mother gang’s lives in the future ended up being just like ours… random, non-cinematic, and a bit sad. And who the heck wants to see that?
– Julie Kushner
2. If Laughter Is the Best Medicine, We’re All Gonna Die
Imagine if you bought nine new cars, then four of them quickly burst into flames and four more were only still moving because a bunch of network executives decided to get out and push. That’s what happened to this year’s new crop of sitcoms. Nine were launched in the Fall 2014 season, and only one is still running strong under its own power. Congratulations, black·ish! Take a bow, and join us in laughing at (not with) your would-be competition.
It was an especially bad year for attractive white Manhattanites, normally the safest bet in Sitcomland. ABC’s Manhattan Love Story and NBC’s A to Z were virtually the same series—the same milquetoasty guy, the same “cute quirky” female with perpetual deer-in-headlights eyes, the same ridiculously annoying and unlikeable friends, the same obviously fake jobs, the same bad 90s’ romantic comedy clichéd storylines, the same awkward random narration segments. Hey, networks can’t win with every show they produce, but this was probably the first time that two networks plagiarized one another’s WORST idea and paid the price for it in a majorly embarrassing way.
Bad titles also spelled doom this season. Being on NBC, Bad Judge was too tepid to live up to is Bad Santa, Bad Teacher, and Bad Grandpa forerunners, all of which were very R-rated movies. (And all of which have no sequels because the premise gets spent pretty quickly and doesn’t lend itself to being a series.) Meanwhile, Selfie did everything it could to earn the bad will prior to airing its first episode: the groan-worthy title, making Karen Gillian adopt a Valley Girl-esque accent instead using her adorable Scottish speech, leaning too heavily on its My Fair Lady underpinnings. But with two bankable and charming leads beginning a will-they-or-won’t-they dance, the show could have been a success with time. ABC didn’t give it any. Equally embarrassing for the creators and network.
And then there are the survivors, living on a prayer because some network executive somewhere has declared “faith” in the show despite the ratings. 1) John Mulaney is a brilliant standup comedian, so we wanted to believe Mulaney would be brilliant as well, especially with comedy icons Elliot Gould and Martin Short in the supporting cast. We noted but excused how obviously the concept was a Seinfeld rip-off. So did FOX. Big mistake. 2) Over on CBS, Irish family sitcom The McCarthys proved we can still stereotype white people but that doesn’t make it funny. 3) NBC is still married to Marry Me, even though it clearly belongs in paragraph #2. 4) And that leaves Cristela. It seems like every critic wanted this show to succeed (us included) based on the strength of its concept and lead. Too bad it wasn’t any good.
– Susan Velazquez, Julie Kushner, and Rick Lewis
1. When Life Gives You Lemon
When Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in March, CNN took a hard, sober look at this senseless tragedy and decided it’d rather focus on the “senseless” than the “tragedy.” What followed was two months of endless, pointless, over-the-top speculation. The Most Trusted Name in News gleefully turned itself into a national laughingstock.
And in those dark days, one voice rose above the rest… one man dared to ask the most inept questions and utter the most inane musings. He made himself the poster child for everything wrong with CNN—nay, everything wrong with the American news media as a whole! His name… Don Lemon.
Specifically, it was the whole “black hole” thing that catapulted Lemon into spotlight as the worst of the worst. Which is entirely unfair, because he’d previously asked if something “supernatural” might have happened to the plane. Asking about black holes is preposterous stupid, of course, but at least they’re in the realm of science rather than outright magic. If we’re going to mock him—and of course we’re going to mock him—then the supernatural stuff should really be at the top of the list.
There you have it—TV’s single most embarrassing moment of 2014!